Creative Ways on How to Photograph Cars

Most people think car photography is easy but there’s more to it than capturing the whole body and presenting it visually.

The challenge is to properly capture the car detail, design and its quintessence spirit in a photograph. Successful professional photographers has these all figured out already, question is do you?

If not then here’s a helpful guide for you to discover the creative ways on how to photograph cars.


With a tight budget it is obvious you can’t afford to shoot a car against the backdrop of some exotic location.

Still, an abundance of location options still remains only if you know what to consider. First, you need to present the car to be the center of attention; you would not want the car to play second fiddle to the location. Decide if you want to photograph the car in a more natural setting, somewhere less crowded and less typical or whether you would want to have the good ole studio feel.

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A Natural Setting

A natural setting should show the car parked on the side of the road, a car park or on a driveway of a house. This represents the usual setting of a car and projects a natural look but won’t really add much to your image. Use your imagination to add some mood to the natural setting like shooting the car in an industrial part of the city where a gritty atmosphere can prevail in the background. A run-down row of old warehouses and factories in the background will give the image a rugged character. For the squeaky clean image consider shooting at the business district and positioning the car with amongst the towering and reflective gleams of the post-modern office buildings seen on the background. Otherwise, you could opt for a more creative shot, at the top of a hill with an open area overseeing a landscape scene, if possible against a backdrop of a setting sun.

An Unnatural Setting

Do not overdo your natural settings and make the car looks sorely out of place with its surroundings like for example, when you shoot a car surrounded by tall bushes and grass. There is no need to be over the top adventurous with location selection. Avoid cliché settings but do not veer far out into the exaggerated territory.


Now that you have decided between natural and unnatural setting, regardless of your choice you still need to do your shoot under a great lighting condition to make the car stands out. It is highly recommended to shoot under the golden hours, which is before and during the time of sunrise in the morning and happening again in the sunset. Shooting under these natural lighting condition gives your subject, the car a charming warm wash of sunlight and avoid the over brightness of the mid-morning sunlight.

photograph cars

Artificial Lighting

Setting up flashguns is a good way to use artificial lighting whenever you find your location as lacking in natural light. Take a few test shots to ensure if you already achieved the right amount of artificial light. Remember not to generate too much light over the car and avoid letting the artificial light from doubling up some areas of the car. The final lighting depends on the mood of the photographer, so study it by carefully relating the overall mood to the car’s personality you wanted to convey.


Try to shoot the car in various angles as possible. The favorite among photographers is from above the ground. This projects the car with a menacing and overbearing character, still it is recommended to pursue other angles and discover more angles which the car can freely expresses its real character and form. Move your car to a myriad of positions and stay away from other visual distractions such as phone, electricity cables and trees. Use a tripod for extra smooth and sharpness results. For other angles you might want to shoot with a firm hand as handheld shooting is more mobile.

photograph cars

Exterior and Interior Details

After shooting the full images of your car you can now proceed to the exterior and interior shots. These are the money shots of car photography, it is important to know the car’s foremost design features. Study the car and bear in mind the striking details in its shape, bodywork and lines, wheel structures, grills and manufacturers badges. Angles and proper lighting provides a huge help in achieving great shots of the exterior. For interior shots, make sure to cover as much space inside to convey the spaciousness of the automobile. Take advantage of the sleek design inside and focus a few shots on it with the manufacturer’s logo visible.


Of course car photography is not complete without an image of it in action. The technique of panning captures the automobile in motion as it speeds of the road. Learn the proper motion and timing of panning your camera to follow the movement of the car so it will produce a stunning image of the car in focus with an artistic blurred background. The best method of panning is used from a handheld stand-up point and entails you, the photographer, to turn and follow in line with the moving car whilst shooting. It’s imperative to distinguish the movement of the car before you start clicking and as you move in line with the car.

Here you go a simple guideline on how to creatively shoot car photography. Cars are very popular photography subjects and when you end up as an expert in shooting cars, it will be a great addition to your photography portfolio.

About Kristine Buenavista

Tin oftentimes takes her folding bike and old camera along country roads. Sometimes, she forgets to take pictures (though she never forgets when she finds great photos elsewhere). She narrates through words and images here. Travel, creativity, laughter, cerveza negra, scavenge hunt for beauty, starry-windy nights are among the things that make her feel weightless.

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