Car Photography Tips


"The term composition means 'putting together,' and can apply to any work of art, from music to writing to photography, that is arranged or put together using conscious thought."

The key words here are "arranged" and "conscious thought." Quite different from "point" (no arrangement) and shoot (no thought).

Artists think about what they want to paint. It starts as an idea.

Then they arrange what they see in their mind on a canvas.

If an artist paints a car, I doubt he envisions a port-a-toilet in the background.

Similarly, you're not just taking a photo of a car. You're painting a picture, so to speak.

The first step is to look through the viewfinder, or LED screen, and examine the whole scene.

Look at the objects in the background. Should they be in the photo? Move the viewfinder around to see if you can create a better scene.

For example, are there big puffy clouds in the sky that would really enhance the photo? Is there a particular tree that is more appealing than another? Is there a sign in the background that you should include or exclude from the shot?

Here's a concrete example. One time I took a photo of a Porsche in front of a dealership. I played around with the right angle for the shot and got the lighting I wanted. However, after viewing the photo I realized the Porsche dealership sign was quite attractive, but I cut it off. I was looking at the car and the lighting but I failed to incorporate that Porsche sign in the background.

Here's another example. Many times at car shows or outdoor public events you have all sorts of clutter in the environment. There have been times where I've taken a shot that I really liked except for the port-a-toilet in the background.

Another thing to be aware of is your shadow. If you want to improve your photography you want to be aware of your shadow. Unless you are doing something very artistic by incorporating your shadow, it's best to make sure your shadow is out of the photo.

This also applies to reflective surfaces such as store windows or cars that are very polished. When you look through the viewfinder make sure you're not creating a selfie, unless of course you want to do something artistic like that. Just be aware.

Check the background before you shoot. Dumpsters are not too appealing. Neither are power poles, tents, port a potties, etc. rearrange your shot to include or exclude the objects in the background.

Key Points

  • Abandon thy point-n-shoot ways!
  • Examine the background first.
  • Don't include the port-o-potty!
  • Incorporate background objects that can compliment your photo.

Most people don't even think about the background when they take a photo. They just see an object and snap a photo or two. They have accomplished their goal, to capture the activities of the day.

Just by following the simple tips you will be amazed and excited about the photos you take. This is the beginning of developing your awareness. Congratulations, you have advanced into the world of creative car photography.

Stay tuned for the next chapter...

Car Photography Tips - Introduction

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