How to shoot cars; 5 tips for better automotive pictures!

If you've ever tried photographing a vehicle, you'll know that it's not as easy as it seems. Yes, it's simple to capture a clear shot of the car, but it's far more challenging to find the right composition, the perfect light and lens position. To help, we listed a few simple steps which will hopefully lead you towards an automotive masterpiece! 

Even when you follow these tips and you manage to get all these details right during the shoot, unedited car pictures often lack color and emotion. That’s why a lot of these improvements are made during the post-production process. We decided to share some of our favorite automotive lightroom presets with you, to help you through the sharp learning curve happening in the post-production process.

5 tips for better automotive pictures

What do you need in order to get a perfect automotive picture? You might want to answer that you need a supercar, but in reality you just have to follow the next 7 tips!

Prepare yourself.

When you are about to do a photoshoot, there will be nothing more important than translating the setting and the vibe that you’ve got in mind towards the final picture. To help you achieve this goal, we suggest you to create a “Mood Board”. Simply put, mood boards are a collection of images that convey the theme, style, direction and inspiration for your shoot. It wouldn't make sense to photograph an oldtimer in a farm, when you’re trying to create a luxury vibe. 

While building your mood board, you’ll probably stumble upon some photography concepts from strangers on pinterest and instagram. Make sure to take a look at what they have done, and note what they did to improve their shots.

Utilize your surroundings to highlight the car

Another critical point that will help you get your perfect shot, is your location. We advise you to put some thoughts in your location, since the context location mather and might make - or break - your shot. 

While you can do a regular google maps-scout, we advise you to do an actual technical visit so you don’t stumble upon (fysical or virtual) roadblocks. You’d like to bring your gear already, so you can test the background and find your perfect angles. While you’re there, make sure to look at the details. (When is the perfect lighting? Is it a high traffic location? …)

Not sure how to find your location? Be creative! Do some research and talk to other auto enthusiasts. 

Know your angles!

The trick to making the best automotive images is shooting the car from the best angle. Knowing the angles you’d like to avoid is at least as important, for example: If you shoot straight towards the side of a car, you’ll likely see your own reflection in your pictures. 

That’s why we suggest shooting at a three-quarter angle (front and back, left and right). At these angles, you can capture an attractive view of the car while ensuring you aren’t reflected in the shot. If you add in pictures from the front and back (straight line), you’ll already have 6 different shots. You can multiply these by shooting them from a low or a high level, and avoiding the shots at eye-level.

Bonus: When taking car pictures, don’t just focus on shots of the entire car body. Instead, show the character of the car by taking close-ups of interesting details. We also advise you to take vertical photos as well, these are perfect for social media and mobile phones. 

Always shoot RAW!

You’ve probably heard it before, but you should always shoot in RAW. This because this file format captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo, while a JPEG images are compressed and are losing a lot of data. 

No information is compressed with RAW, so your photo contains more details and you’ll be able to edit them preciser into higher quality images with our automotive lightroom presets.

Stay consistent

Whatever kinds of Lightroom preset you use, select no more than three to bounce back and forth with when editing a series of photographs. It’s not that you want every image to be a direct clone of one another, there should undoubtedly be an underlying look or feel to the full gallery.

We suggest sticking to your preset and just adjusting the brightness, HSL, saturation, and contrast according to each picture’s composition and lighting.Once you discovered your favorite presets that actually work, stick with it!

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