Seven Tips For Better Car Photographs

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

The following tips are offered in hopes of giving you a creative kick and help you get out of a rut to not only make some great car photographs but have fun while doing it.

Don’t be a fair weather photographer. Often the best photographs are made under less than ideal conditions. These kinds of images are made on dark, cloudy, rainy or snowy days, at the crack of dawn, at sunset or in the dark of the night. That doesn’t mean you should schlep your equipment around during a tornado but it certainly means shooting at a time of year or time of day when other people are not making photographs.

Make the image bold. Use strong composition with leading lines that say speed and power or use a formal, symmetrical organization to create a Zen-like quiet mood. Use colors that by themselves could be the subject of the photograph or use little or no color.

How I made this shot: The above image was made while I was in a suite at Indianapolis Speedway that overlooked pit lane and had sloping glass windows. I held an Olympus E-1 with 50-300mm (at 50mm) lens above my head and tired to aim it directly down onto this practice pit stop. Exposure was 1/640 sec at f/4.5 at ISO 400.

That’s why you should avoid eye-level camera placement. Climb a ladder, lamppost or a hill to provide your entry with a dramatic camera angle. Lie on your stomach, use wide-angle lenses and shoot up against the sky to simplify the background. When shooting like this wear your grungies not your Gucci and don’t be afraid to get to yourself and your clothes dirty in pursuit of the ultimate image.

Don’t be passive. Have your photograph make a statement. Photograph subjects you are passionate about, not ones you think contest judges, friends or Instagram followers will like. What the people really want to see is that the shooter cares about the subject being photographed.

Get close to your subject. Use a macro lens, close-up filters or extension tubes to show a simple everyday object in a way that has not been depicted before or at least not lately.

Carry your cameras with you wherever you go. You never know when a great photo opportunity will pop up right in front of you. That’s one of the main reason I like mirrorless cameras. I currently enamored with Canon’s EOS M6 Mark II; you can read my detailed review of this particular camera here.

Analyze images from your shoots to see the entire take at one time. Whatever you do, don’t ask friends and family what they think. They like you and will say how great your work is even if it may not be true. Seek out other opinions but be prepared to hear that you may not be the photographic genius your sister Kate thinks you are.

Look at automotive and motorsports whose work is innovative. My top two shooters these days are John Jackson and Regis Lefebure who are constantly evolving their styles refusing to be pigeonholed while producing images that are both technically and aesthetically inspiring. Follow them on Instagram for a daily dose of inspiration.

Finally, even Seven-time Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax practices four hours a day. The simplest and best advice I can give you about creating prize- or even praise-winning photographs is the same as the answer to that classic question: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Practice, practice, practice.


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