Eight Tips for Better Car Show Photography

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Here are some answers to questions that came up during the last car show PhotoWalk that I wanted to share with those who couldn’t make it to the event.

  • Tip #1: To make interesting photographs at a car show, you gotta love cars. A passion for the subject you’re photographing is always a plus and enables you to look beyond the surface of a car to see its essence, its soul.
  • Tip #2: Before making any pictures try to talk to the car’s owner. Most owners can talk for hours about their cars because there never was a project that didn’t have interesting twists and turns.
  • Tip #3: Do not make photographs with the hood of the car raised. Many owners like to display the cleanliness underneath the hood but that’s not always the best way to photography a vehicle because it breaks up the vehicle’s lines. If the owner is nearby, ask them if they would please close the hood so you can make a photograph of the car. In exchange, offer to e-mail them a JPEG.
  • Tip #4: It’s also a good idea to remove show placards such as the identification cards placed on the dash or under the windshield wiper. Again, ask the owner before touching any part of his or her car! It’s always best to have them do it, so ask politely.

  • Tip #5: Be sure to make images of parts of cars. Don’t be frustrated by the lack of space and crowded conditions found at many shows. Use that to your advantage by finding small details and capture them in sharp focus.
  • Tip #6: Get close to the car. Start by working in close and gradually back off until extraneous non-car details or people start appearing in the frame. That’s how I made the above image. Wide-angle lenses or wide angle zooms help you fill up the frame with part or even the entire car while making sure distractions are eliminated.
  • Tip #7: Explore unconventional views of the car. Tilt the camera to provide a dynamic image or shoot a Hail Mary image. The crowds at most car shows—although some of the most polite  you’ill find anywhere—make it almost impossible to use a tripod so I seldom bring one.
  • Tip#8: Dress for success. Dress comfortably and wear the kind of clothing you won’t be afraid to get dirty by kneeling on the ground when trying to get an interesting camera angle.