The Ultimate Guide to Photographing Cars

Picture of a car

Photographing cars or any automobile for that matter requires a unique set of skills that can be gained through years of experience as a car photographer. However, if you are just a beginner who wants to know some tips and tricks, then this is the perfect article for you. We will be giving you the lowdown of the perfect guide to photographing cars and other automobiles. But before we’ll dish out our secrets, let’s increase our knowledge about car photography.

Automobile Photography

Automobile photography is a type of photography where a car or any type of automotive is the central focus of the shoot. No need to have people as cars and other automobiles make a great subject. This is definitely true if the car is unique, vintage, pimped-up or recently restored. They make a perfect photo statement and just fill the photograph with their strong character and presence. Automobile photography techniques are often used in the big-budget car company advertisements and billboards that we see. The aim of this shoot is to make the car look beautiful while showcasing its awesome features.

Secret Tips for Beginners Photographers

If you have photographed and familiar with a camera you are half way there. There are a couple of small things that you need to consider to get the best possible photo. These are the same techniques I personally use when following my passion of shooting newborns while working as a professional family photographer.

Time of Shoot Matters

You’ve heard that right. The time of your car photography session really matters. Just like any type of photography, the light is indeed any subject’s best friend and the car is definitely not an exemption. Experienced car photographers recommend shooting just a few minutes before sunrise or a few minutes after sunset. The light during this time of day is usually the best light that will complement the vehicle.

Check Out Reflections

A shiny car with a reflective bumper

Cars, especially brand new ones, can be pretty shiny and reflect almost everything. You should be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for possible things in the location that can be reflected on the car. Reflection of buildings, electric posts, trees and people can ruin the look of the vehicle and can fail to showcase the design lines of the car. Often, photographers will fail to notice that they themselves are also reflected on the car. A simple trick for this is to use a tripod, put the camera on timer mode and move out of the picture.

Get Moving

One of the best photos of a car is the one where you see it in motion. Automobiles are built to move and car photographers always take pride in capturing the perfect motion photo of these vehicles. So how do you achieve that? An easy way to do this is if you would shoot the moving subject from another car. Doing this will allow you to catch awesome movements from the road and the wheels. The technique to this is to decrease the shutter speed. However, you have to be careful as low shutter speed might also result in you getting blurry images.


The background of your shot usually depends on the automobile that you are shooting or the goal of your shoot. If you are shooting a car fit for adventure, then a good background location for that is somewhere in the woods or near a forest. If it is a luxury car, then the horizon is the perfect background for it. You have to make sure that your car does not look displaced with the background or location.

Panning Technique

To get some awesome motion blur effect, panning technique is often used by professionals. You can achieve this by standing beside a road as the car passes by, set your shutter speed to 125th of a second and smoothly follow the car with your lens. The results will surely blow you away.

Interact with Nature

To add more character and power to the photo, let the vehicle interact with nature. An example of this is a 4×4 climbing a hill or a car spinning around and making some dust. This way, you will be able to showcase the supremacy and the strength of the vehicle.

Don’t Forget the Interior

As much as we fall in love with the curves of the exterior of the car, photographing the interior is as equally as important. Capture some details of the inside and highlight some interior features. Make sure that it is well-lit as to properly showcase them.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Any experienced photographer won’t be where he is today if he didn’t shoot photographs at any chance that he gets. Although the quote “Practice makes perfect” may sound cliché, in this case, it is still definitely true. Through practicing, you will not just be able to familiarise your camera even more but you will also discover some techniques that you can later share with others. You will also be able to gain more confidence to shoot and try new things.

There are loads of opportunities in Perth to take pictures of some cool vintage cars when the vintage cruises are held at Scarborough and neighbouring beaches.