Six tricks to capturing exceptional car photos

Automotive photography is a lot more involved than just point and shoot. Whether you need photos of your car to attract attention to your vehicle listing on DriveShare.com, for an online sale ad, or to show off your ride or photo skills, here are six pro tips for capturing an image that will draw the viewer’s eye. 

Make it shine

First thing’s first: make sure your car is clean before the photoshoot. A camera can pick up more details than what is visible to the naked eye. A wash, hand dry and applying some detailing spray goes a long way to remove the tiniest particles of dust and debris. Don’t forget to remove any window streaks and wipe down the interior and engine compartment. 

Dodge Charger Parked Photo

Plan ahead

The background of an image will make or break a photograph, so it’s best to plan ahead and have a photo location in mind. The chosen surroundings should line up with the car and the theme or feel that you are trying to portray. Avoid having things in the background that will distract the eye, such as dustbins, bits of trash, power lines and other vehicles. Bring a broom with you if you might have to sweep debris away from your shot. Too busy of a background can distract from a vehicle’s curvaceous lines. Simple backgrounds, such as a sunset, winding backroad, or an old barn or brick building help call attention to the car in your photo. 

Chevrolet Belair Scenic Photo

Time is of the essence

All types of paint react differently depending on the time of day with varying light, but most colors don’t capture well in direct sunlight. Full sun can cast distracting shadows, cause blinding reflections, lens flare, and wipe out or even oversaturate a car’s color. Sometimes shooting in direct sunlight is inevitable, but there are ways to make a great photo under the beating sun, aside from simply moving the car into a shady location. If the shadows are too harsh in your image, try stepping back and shooting a wider photograph. If you have a flash, use it to lighten the shadows and heavy contrast that the sunlight causes. Take advantage of the digital age and try photos with and without the flash, and from different angles, to see which turns out best. 

As another alternative, photographers use reflectors to splash more light on a subject’s shadows. Using neutral density or circular polarizing filters will also limit the amount of light getting into your camera, which reduces reflections and helps you gain control over the colors in your photo. Such lens filters are typically seen on DSLR cameras; however, several options are also available for iPhone users.

The best time for photos is at sunrise or just before sunset. The light becomes golden or orange, which encourages a warm and inviting feel. To get the best light on the car, shoot with the sun at your back, and stay far enough away to keep your shadow out of the picture. 

Take a moment for reflections

Capturing that perfect photo to later realize you can see yourself (or others) in the car’s reflection is frustrating. As you are taking the photo, be mindful of what reflections you see.  Exceptionally shiny paint and chrome finishes act as a mirror and will reflect anything, and any reflections that do not belong can interrupt the car’s lines and shapes. Wearing dark clothing will help prevent awkward reflections. Performing complex yoga moves to keep your reflection out of the shot might look ridiculous to outsiders but giving up a little dignity for that perfect photo is a small price to pay. 

VW Beetle parked Photo

The rule of thirds

Speaking of looking goofy when taking photos, don’t be afraid to move around with the car in the camera’s frame to see what angle and position makes the car look its best. Generally, photos captured from a low angle makes the image look more dramatic, and most cars look good from a knee-height or lower angle. If you can, bring a ladder to capture a whole new view from above the car. 

The rule of thirds is a visual guide that both novices and professional photographers swear by. It’s a quick was to ensure your shot’s composition is pleasing to the eye, and is applied by aligning the subject with the guide lines and the intersection points, placing the horizon in the top or bottom line, or allowing the image to flow from section to section. Most digital cameras have an option that will activate these guides in the viewfinder. For those who are just working from their phone, there’s an app for that: Search for “rule of thirds”.

Porsche 911 driving Photo

Panning for motion blur

Some of the most eye-catching photos come from motion photography. The easiest way to capture motion in your picture is to stand next to the road while another person drives the car past you. For a DSLR camera, start by setting your shutter speed to 125th of a second, and then follow the car with your lens in one smooth motion while you snap the photos. Phone cameras do not have as much setting adjustability, but you can still get a similar effect by panning with the car in motion.  

Once you captured all the eye-catching photos that your DriveShare vehicle listing can handle, upload them onto your listing and choose your favorite to be the title photo. The title photo is the first photo that interested renters will see, so it should be the one that’s most likely to draw people in to click on your listing.

If you’re looking for some of the best-looking photo subjects around, check out the cool cars offered for rent on DriveShare.com.

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