Top 10 Tips For Photographing Your Car

09th Jul 2019

By Daniel Hitchman

Top 10 tips for photographing your car


The number of variables that need to be considered when taking a good photograph of your car is surprisingly lengthy. With this list of simple tips, we guarantee you'll be capturing some great images of your vehicle ready for social media.


Preparation is key

Kicking off the list is a cliche saying that applies to all areas of life: be prepared. If you plan on getting the best images of your car, then it's a good idea to make sure your vehicle is clean at the very least; unless you plan on getting action shots of an off-roader.

It's also important to ensure your phone is up to scratch. We recommend giving the camera lens a good clean before getting some images, and making sure you have enough memory to hold all your photos. Whilst we're on the topic, go into your phone's camera settings and ensure it's taking the highest quality image it's capable of.
Washing a car

Understand basic photography

There's a huge number of terms used in photography, ranging from aperture to ISO. You may be asking what the relevance is for a simple smartphone photograph. The point being is that understanding the effect natural light and different camera settings can have on the final product will help you take more professional images. Below is a couple of the essential ones you need to understand.

Saturation: This is how intense and bright a colour in your photo is, and it's something you can alter in editing software. Too much saturation leads to overly bright colours whereas too little makes for a dull image. Find an example of this on the right.

Exposure: Essentially how much light is captured by your camera. Too much exposure will destroy any details, this is usually caused by taking an image on a bright sunny day. Not enough exposure and the image will be dark and lifeless. Although exposure can be altered in editing software, it can't fix a photo that has too much exposure, so it's best to take your time and get a good photo from the offset.
Saturation on car image

Don't over complicate it

Keeping it simple is one of the most beneficial things you can do when it comes to photography. Take the time to look around your surroundings and envisage how you can place your car within the environment to maximise the impact of your photo. For example, the photo on the right utilises a great line-up of cars as its background, while capturing a great angle of the main subject. Simple, yet effective.

Don't try and over complicate the apps you use either, all you need is a simple camera and editing app; nothing more, nothing less. The less time you spend focusing on apps and unnecessary equipment, the more time you can spend focusing on capturing a great photo.
Car Cafe

Location, location, location

Although your car is always going to be the main subject of the photo, a carefully chosen backdrop can take your photograph to a new level. Do some searches on the old internet and use your imagination - you'd be amazed how a layby on a country road in the middle of nowhere can be your next shooting location.

Perhaps you're feeling more adventurous and don't mind a trip that is further afield, we took the photo on the right at Shelsley Walsh, one of the world's most historic motorsport venues. It may have taken an hour or so to get there, but it was worth it. Whether it's a picture in the urban jungle or picturesque countryside, there is a backdrop out there to suit every mood.
Shelsley Walsh

Take a step back

This ties in with the location you choose. Taking a good picture of your car doesn't necessarily mean it's in the middle of the image. Implement the rule of thirds, where you break down an image into three sections and place your subject in one of those sections with a suitable backdrop in the other two.

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture, use the surroundings to create a stage for your car to step into. Look for a strong leading line and backdrop that increases its impact the longer you stare. Correctly executed, your car will take centre stage in a dramatic location without being smack bang in the middle of the image.
Ford Focus Active X

Maximise your subject

Your car has more to offer as the subject than you may think. You don't simply have to take an image of the car with a nice backdrop. You can alter the angle you take a photo from to place emphasis on a feature.

For example, place yourself at the corner of your car at headlight level and ensure the front wheels are facing the opposite way to the corner you are standing in - a simple shot like this shows off the wheels and brakes, it also gives the car a more purposeful stance. Place focus on increasing the presence of your car and you're sure to be onto a winner.
Ford ST

Small details often have the biggest impact

We've spoken about the bigger picture and capturing a full image of the car, yet sometimes focusing on the finer details can be just as effective. For example, apply some automotive sealant or wax to the bonnet of your car and wait for it to rain, this creates a beading effect that makes for a fantastic picture. See example to the right.

If your car has large brakes with colourful calipers, then get a close-up image. Small details like these are the defining features of most cars and help to give them their distinctive character, something car enthusiasts are guaranteed to appreciate.

Perfect weather isn't always perfect

One of the big mistakes we see is people taking a photograph on a really bright sunny day because they believe the good weather must equal a good photograph. The reality is, unless you're wanting to shoot your car at the beach on a summer holiday using a DSLR that's been correctly setup, your photos are going to suffer from high exposure.

Utilise and manipulate other weather conditions to maximise the drama in your photograph. A misty and overcast day can provide a sense of atmosphere, while shooting in the rain can bring an extra degree of life to your car in an otherwise dull scene.
Ford Kuga

Don't use zoom

This point doesn't need a lot of expanding on, but the simple message is that zoom can seriously hamper the quality of a photo. It's not to say a close up of your subject is a bad thing, but physically position yourself to get that desired close up without using zoom.

The issue with zoom is it can make an image grainy, meaning the picture loses sharpness and detail, which is a big no-no for any aspiring photographer wanting to get the best image of their car.
Ford Mustang

Simplify the post production process

Capturing the perfect image of your car can be difficult, and that's where a decent photo editing app comes into play. However, it can be easy to get caught up playing with various filters and settings that you can soon take away the elements of an image that made it great in the first place. Editing software should never be used to fix your image, it should be used to enhance it. Play with a few simple settings such as saturation and ambience to add mood and vibrance to your image.

On a final note, we appreciate it can be difficult to get the perfect image from the offset due to variables such as weather and light, but the closer you can get, the easier it becomes afterwards.
Mobile Phone


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