6 Tips To Get You Started In Car Photography

Car photography requires decent amount of knowledge about cars and great attention to details. Photographing cars means that you need to present the vehicle in the best way possible.

That would mean emphasizing the unique parts, having all the legacy details present, and making the viewer want the car (check Creative Ways on How to Photograph Cars).

It is very important t understand the design of the car and the photography scene in order to know how you will take the shot and the photography angle. Each car design has a perfect angle to display the lines and curves in a beautiful way.

While there are general shooting guidelines, it can vary from one car design to another based on different factors including the scene and light conditions (check 5 Effective Ways to Jumpstart Your Car Photography Skills).

What does one need to know in order to get started with car photography?

Know Cars

You need to be a bit of a petrolhead to deliver good car images since you need to know what the viewers want to view. Additionally you need to be aware of the prominent parts of the given car model and to be able to recognise the best part about the particular model you are photographing.

jaguar car photos
Photo by Jaguarmena on Flickr

Choose the Right Lens

You need a lens that creates small or no amount of distortion in order to avoid curving the straight lines in the car design. After all, car design is pretty much all in the lines. For instance, if you get an 8mm fisheye lens to photograph a Rolls Royce you will pretty much do a bad job. Therefore lens in the area of 35 to 80mm will usually do since you need to avoid unnecessary zoom compression as well.

Proper Light

Any car body is a complex piece of art and machinery, and in order to be successful in car photography you need to be able to light the car up properly. It is all about the light and the lens, so if you use nicely lit background and use the proper light on the car itself, you will have no problem. Keep in mind that you need to have the car lights on if the scenery is a bit darker (in order to keep it looking natural), and if it is shot during the daytime, at least the position lights must be on.

automotive photography
Nissan GTR, photo by Concavo Wheels on Flickr


One of the most important part of car photography would be bringing the attention to the right details. You need to be able to recognise the important details, or iconic ones and you need to capture and emphasize them. For example the GT-R logo on any Nissan Skyline model is the most iconic part of the car, and if you miss that one the photo loses much of the value.



This is the most tricky part of the car photography business. Interiors are tight and small (when compared to buildings) and usually they are hard to get in single frame. Well of course you can use a fisheye lens, but that does all sorts of bad as mentioned before. Often when small cars have their interiors photographed, it is either a panorama shot (meaning more images stitched together) and then artificially straightened, or the car is photographed via removed windshield or back window. Another important aspect of photographing the car interior is having everything that produces light to be turned on.

automotive photography
Car interior by Paul Howard on Flickr

Right Scene

Lastly, you need to put the car in the right scenery according to the model. A 4×4 needs to be in its “natural habitat”, which is off the road, while photographing a supercar per se should be on the race track since the maximum potential can be unleashed just there (well at least legally).

All that said, I hope this guide will make for a decent improvement in your car photography. You can also check the following related articles:

About Dzvonko Petrovski

Photographer who loves challenging and experimental photography and is not afraid to share the knowledge about it.

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