We live in a time where anyone can look like a professional… as long as they have the right tools. The regular Joe next door just got his first Instagram sponsorship and your coworker’s small business looks about as polished as a Fortune 500. So why can’t you join in on the action with your brand new Porsche Mission E? After all, you didn’t get this car to hide it from the world. You want to show it off in all its glory.
Well, just like your Insta-celeb neighbor and budding entrepreneur neighbor, you can project any image you want.
Here are 5 automotive photography tips to shoot like the luxury brands.
1. Get the right gear
You can certainly shoot some amazing share-worthy shots on your camera’s phone, but they’re not going to have that professional look. If you really want to shoot like a pro, you’ll need professional tools.
Yes, that means you’ll need a dSLR. If you only need it for this shot, maybe rent or borrow one instead of making this major purchase.
Don’t let the camera intimidate you, though. There are some high-tech models that you might find difficult to operate, but there are also entry-level models that will still capture amazing images.
One more thing you’ll need is a wide lens. Look for one that’s around 24mm to help you capture the car and its environment. If you want closeup shots on your car’s finer details, like rims or interior trim, you’ll also need a macro lens.
2. Choose an epic location
Can you imagine a professional auto image without an epic background? Cars are shot in deserts, mountainsides and among skyscrapers. It’s virtually impossible to create a professional-looking image without the right background.
If your car is on the smaller side (think Fiat or Miata), consider a simple background that won’t dwarf the car. Consider shooting at the beach or amongst rolling plains.
If you own a luxury vehicle like a Mercedes Benz CLA, you may want to choose a sleek city backdrop. Or you may choose an action shot in an unexpected location. This shot by Porsche Atlanta Perimeter is a great example. Here, they feature the Mission E Cross Turismo in an angled action shot along a dirt road with limited light. As you can see, this puts more emphasis on the car’s design.
Wherever you land, just be sure you can spend some time shooting at your location. If you aren’t actually a professional, it may take longer to get that perfect shot.
3. Play around with angles
The only time you should shoot at a straight front, rear or side angle is when you’re submitting an insurance claim. For any other auto shots, try to get an interesting angle.
Try placing your camera at a low level, so you can shoot upwards and get a dramatic effect.
One of the most commonly used angles in automotive photography is called the three-quarter view. To get this shot, angle your camera towards the front corner of your car. This way, you’ll see what’s going on in the front and side of your car, all in one shot.
Just one word of caution: If you aren’t a photoshop pro, make sure your reflection isn’t showing up in the car’s side panel or any windows. That’s about the quickest way to ruin an otherwise professional-looking image.
4. Practice makes perfect
If you’ve never so much as dabbled in photography, don’t expect too much from your first shots. You may spend the day perfecting the angle, and then lose the perfect natural lighting. The point is that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself. If this shot is important to you, spend the time to get it right. It may take a day or two of trying, but you’re sure to get something Insta-worthy at the end. Hang in there.
5. Add drama with editing
Even the best automotive photos may not look like much until after they’ve been through editing. Adobe Lightroom is a great program for image editing, but you can use Photoshop if you’re more comfortable with that. In editing, you can tone down some highlights, if the natural lighting was too intense. Or you can punch up shadows for a more dramatic look. Here is where you can really have fun because there’s no wrong way to edit a photo. As long as you’re loving the effect, it’s perfect.
Make sure you shoot your images in RAW format for editing purposes. This will give you a greater scope to tone those highlights and lift shadows.
When it’s time to share your masterpiece, remember to practice good social media etiquette. This car may be like your baby, but no one wants their newsfeed flooded with multiple images that are nearly identical. Choose the best of the best, edit to perfection, and post away.