Car photography
5 Min Read

Car Photography – The Ultimate Guide to Impactful Vehicle Photoshoots

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From the sleek chassis lines to the power of the engine, cars represent freedom, power, and style. And what better way to capture that essence than through car photography? Automotive photography needs to capture the ergonomics of the vehicle through a camera. It is a unique genre of photography that helps showcase the beauty and personality of cars. As such, creative car photography that highlights its various features is an essential requirement for every car retailer these days.

But, achieving high-impact vehicle visuals won’t be possible without setting up a proper auto photoshoot. Unfortunately, hiring seasoned car photographers and using a car photography studio costs a fortune. Well, there’s an alternative to that: AI-powered photography solutions.

Sounds complicated? Well, allow us to simplify it! No matter your skill level, if you want to learn to click car photographs like a professional, you are in the right place. Let’s dive into it!


What is Car Photography?

Car photography essentially is capturing what car enthusiasts really love — the car styling, luxurious looks, modifications made, and aerodynamic builds. It is not just capturing the machine, but also shooting its dynamic shots when possible. The images must make the car shine and highlight the best features. There are two main types of car photography – commercial and aesthetic (glamor shots). The former is for commercial purposes (merchandising, advertisements, etc.), while the latter is purely for capturing and showcasing automotive beauty.


What is Car Photography


Types of automotive photography

  • Commercial photography: This type of photography is rather formulaic, with a focus on details instead of aesthetics. The visuals are intended to provide information to potential buyers so as to help with their purchasing decision.
  • Glamor photo shoots: They, on the other hand, focus only on showing a car in the most appealing way. This includes capturing the body curves, modifications (if any), beauty in motion through moving shots, etc., all designed to make automotive enthusiasts drool all over their screens. E.g., for photographing cars on race tracks, focus on motion shots over anything else.
  • Used car photography for dealerships: This type of photography involves taking car pictures that can be used on social media posts and Vehicle Display Pages to promote car sales. These include photographing cars on turntables, from all angles such that car features are in focus. Dealerships may also want to produce 360 car view videos for customer engagement and increased sales. You can hire a photography crew and build a studio for that, or use AI-based solutions like Spyne.


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  • Vintage car photography: For photographing vintage cars, attention should be given to the location, lighting, camera settings, car details, and angles. A common problem faced for classic car photography is finding such vehicles. For this, you can research about and go to auto shows near you. Once you find a vintage or classic car, make use of motion and blur to photograph them and add dimension to your images.


Types of car photoshoots


The key to great photography is to capture the viewer’s attention and talk to their emotions. It is necessary to understand the purpose of your photoshoot- is it commercial photography? Is it stock photography? Is your target consumer a car buyer, or are you producing cinematic shots for wallpapers or ad campaigns?

Once you know the purpose, the process can be streamlined. Now, let’s take a look at how you can produce the perfect car photographs.


A Complete Guide For The Perfect Car Photoshoot

Unless you know the tricks to it, car photography can be intimidating. We have gathered essential tips and tricks used for professional car photography to help you get stunning vehicle images.

1. Shooting at the right time of day

Amateurs begin worrying about lighting and reflections right away, but professionals know that the first step is to select the right time of the day. One of the simplest pieces of advice you will get for car photography that immediately improves your photo quality is to avoid shooting at noon. The light is harsh and can give too bright and dark spots, making the image look bad and unappealing.


Guide For The Perfect Car Photoshoot


The best time you can choose is just after sunset or just before sunrise. The light is soft since there is no direct sunlight, helping you capture beautiful shots with exquisite visuals. A tripod can help you use a remote release, to get a soft light paint effect. A reflector can be used when taking close-up shots.

2. Being on the lookout for reflections

Car photography requires you to put a lot of emphasis on details. Be in control of what is reflected on the car. It is important to capture the design lines of the car, and reflections can hinder that. The tree or buildings in the surrounding area will be reflected on the car surface and captured in your photos.

You can either shoot in an open space or in a car photography studio. If the busy surroundings cannot be helped, try taking the shot from a lower angle. Be mindful of your own reflection on the car as well. To avoid your reflection getting captured in the image, use a tripod and set a self-timer.

3. Selecting the correct angles

Before you start shooting, you must plan which angles you need. Are you going to shoot from a low angle or a high one? What perspective do you want to add to your pictures? And so on. The standard method is to click the picture from eye level, capture the side views, and capture 45-degree angle shots from each of the four corners.

Different angles and “poses” serve different messages. If you take a low-angle car shot or a high angle, it gives out a more cinematic output. For commercial photoshoots, you must click pictures from all angles around a vehicle, preferably from eye level. This would allow potential buyers an immersive experience while researching their next car purchase.

4. Choosing your background

Here is another tip to capture car photos in a way that speaks to the viewer. The background in your picture affects how professional your vehicle photography looks. And while one might have a lot of likes and dislikes when it comes to car background, there are still some rules to follow. Your car is the hero of the photoshoot. Make sure you don’t choose a very bright background that takes away the attention from the subject. It might be tempting to shoot a car before an artistic background like graffiti, but it is advised against for the same reason.

The car background should be in contrast to the car for an appealing look. For example, a bright car should have a darker background for highlighting.


Choosing your car background


If you want detailed car pictures, then the backdrop becomes even more important. Avoid cluttered backgrounds. Too much noise in the background makes the car look second-hand. If you are thinking of doing a car photoshoot outside your garage or on a busy street, think again.

You must avoid any distractions like people, trees, other vehicles, buildings, etc., in the frame. Also, take care that you don’t capture any non-partner brand logos around the car. This can call for legal issues other than distracting the viewer.

5. Getting exterior shots of the car

While shooting the exterior of a car, there are multiple types of shots that you must take. Following are some exterior shots that you must not miss out on during auto photography:

  • Full body shots
  • Close-up shots
  • Wheels
  • Trunk
  • Engine
  • Vehicle window sticker


Note: Model car photography is great for practicing vehicle exterior photoshoots. You have much more control over the placement of the car and the way the environment interacts with it.

6. Getting interior shots of the car

Just like the exterior shots, the car interior photography matters too. Focus on interesting patterns and unique features. However, this one is a tricky part. If you park the car at the wrong place, a patchy mix of shadow and light can ruin your auto photography.


car interior photography


Therefore, begin with parking somewhere in the shade and bring compact lighting equipment along. You should:

  • Avoid direct light, whether natural or artificial.
  • Take individual shots of all the features and equipment in a car
  • Take detailed shots of the steering wheel, central console, seats, shifters/cup holders, and any special interior features.


7. Shooting nighttime car portraits

There are many kinds of night car photography, but it is easy if you know some tricks. Professionals know that nocturnal car shots should be captured in the absolute dark; even moonlight or street lamp light can become tricky to handle. Once you have found the right spot, set your camera on a tripod, your shutter speed to 30 seconds, ISO to 100, and aperture to f/9.

When the shutter opens, you need to take a walk around the car with a strong light source, such as a household flashlight. This will paint the car in the light, letting you capture absolutely stunning night shots of the vehicle.

8. Take driving shots

A car is designed for motion, performance, and speed. Taking dynamic shots, where the car is in motion, capture the machine in action. Controlling shutter speed can help display motion in a picture. The slower the shutter speed, the more motion is captured, but the sharpness of the image can be affected in the process. You can begin with a 1/160 shutter speed and review the images. If not enough motion is captured, decrease the shutter speed. If the shots are blurry, increase the shutter speed.


car driving shots


9. Being mindful of road rules

This part of vehicle photography is often missed out on in the excitement of getting work done. It is extremely crucial that you follow the road rules if the shoot is outdoors.

If you are shooting on the road, park your car on the right side of the road. Do not park it in a no-parking region. Also, avoid any depiction that may invite legal trouble both during and after the photography.

If this happens, you won’t be able to use the shots that you take despite putting in immense hard work.

Once the shoot is Done

If you carefully follow the above-mentioned creative car photoshoot tips and tricks, you will surely get excellent shots. But the work is not over yet. The next step is editing and retouching the photos. You can either use manual editing software (like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom) or an automated image editing solution like Spyne Darkroom.


Role of Lighting in Professional Automobile Photography

The lighting used will decide how the car design, lines, and character of the car are perceived in the image. Using good photography and lighting gear, along with good preparation based on the location of the photoshoot, can help you capture beautiful shots. The quality of lighting can affect more than just the brightness or darkness of a subject, it can also shape the tone, mood, and overall atmosphere of the photograph. Therefore, it’s essential to control and manipulate the lighting in order to capture the best texture, color vibrancy, and luminosity of the vehicles.


Car Photography Lightning


When it comes to commercial photography, overhead lights (in a studio) are the best option for shooting. It makes sure that the entire car receives even lighting throughout. If you are planning an outdoor shoot, choose the right time of the day. The best time of the day is noon when the sun is overhead. At night, you can try out long-exposure photography to capture pretty effects.

However, it should be noted that shooting in unique lighting conditions is a big no for commercial photography. However, it is great for aesthetic shoots!


Camera Lenses For Car Photography

While the general tips remain the same, the car photography techniques used will vary depending on the car type and the photographer’s skill level. The ideal lens for car photography will also depend on the type of car being photographed. In general, car photography requires a wide-aperture lens to let more light in. Shutter speed should be increased to reduce motion blur for fast cars and dynamic shots.


Camera Lenses For Car Photography


Listed below are 3 popular lenses used for car photography:

  • 35mm f/1.4 – This lens is suitable for still car photography. It gives a wide angle so the entire car can be captured in a single shot along with the background without having to stand far away. Bokeh effect can also be achieved in the background with this lens by using the wide aperture and low f-stops.
  • 70-200mm f/2.8 – This is ideal to shoot cars from far, like at a race track. This lens can zoom in on the action while you stay at a safe distance. For reduced motion blur, use a fast shutter speed with this lens.
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 – This is an all-around lens for car photography. It can be used for wide and close-up shots. It is ideal for shooting cars in motion since it is a zoom lens and makes adjustments easily.


How To Get Car Photography Clients.

Car photographers may be hesitant to reach out to dealerships and car owners. But arriving at car shows and meetups with a camera in your hand is bound to attract car manufacturers and owners who want automotive photography services.

Car owners are proud of their vehicles, and you can bond with them using your vehicle knowledge. If you are able to showcase their vehicle through beautiful shots, you are bound toke a connection with them. So go to car shows, talk to owners, be friendly, outgoing, and professional, and build your network.


Bonus: Use Spyne AI for Stunning Automobile Photography

The new-age car photo editors run on cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology. Even basic shoots via a smartphone can create the best car photography through Spyne; it’s perfect for car dealership photography, as well as for car resellers, and marketplaces.

Also, traditional photography is quite expensive. AI-led photography is much more affordable in comparison; no need for costly studios and professional photographers. Want to know how to capture professional-level car images in just 2 steps? Use Spyne’s AI-led photography solution.

Step 1: Shoot using Spyne AI smartphone app

Spyne app’s intelligent camera provides a guided shoot so that you don’t end up clicking anything less than perfect. It validates the captured image and warns the photographer to reshoot if any of the following aspects need improvement:

  • Angle
  • Exposure
  • Frame
  • Image clarity


The technology only approves the shot if all the basic elements are approved.

Step 2: Create professional studio-style output

Once you have clicked car images that are validated by Spyne’s AI technology, the next step is to sit back and let the editor do the job. It provides 100+ choices of backgrounds, including studio and outdoor backgrounds. Based on the color, mood, and concept of your inventory photography, you can go ahead with any one of these backgrounds.


Car replacement editing


The editor transforms not only the background but also the floor. Whether you want a car turntable or a finished floor beneath your car, Spyne provides all the options. Apart from the background and floor, the editor also enables a shadow generation effect on the floor and at the backdrop. This adds depth to the car image and makes it look as real as an actual photoshoot.

Wait! This is not all. Spyne’s AI virtual car studio also provides a window tinting option. This means it removes any unwanted shadow or reflections on the car windshield and window pane. You can also add tint to the glass for a realistic and professional touch. These images display your cars professionally to capture customer attention and provide a realistic look to the images.

Traditional photography is great, but Spyne is the ultimate solution

If you still think that traditional vehicle photography is what you would opt for, consider the many advantages of Spyne’s photo editor.

  • It eliminates the hefty cost of the traditional / process. From hiring a professional photographer to renting a studio and spending on production, who wouldn’t want to save thousands of bucks that could be spent elsewhere in the business?
  • Spyne’s editor helps sellers create consistent brand language. A catalog where every car is displayed in a different manner with different editing style exudes unprofessionalism. You can easily edit car images in bulk through Spyne, providing a consistent output throughout the catalog.
  • Scaling a car catalog becomes 10x easier with Spyne. Every time you make new additions to your inventory, you won’t have to go through the humongous task of automobile photoshoots and editing. With your cataloging preferences saved in our AI editor, it takes just a few minutes to scale your catalog at supersonic speed.
  • Did we mention how inexpensive the process becomes then the traditional process? Smart automobile sellers are actually saving 75% of cataloging costs by using Spyne. Here’s your cue to work and earn smarter too.


This is what matters the most. Because, at the end of the day, the purpose of creating a stunning automobile catalog is to sell your inventory online. Spyne’s AI photo editor drastically increases the conversion of your catalog.


High-quality images shot in a professional setup build sellers’ authority and, thus, customer trust. They also make the car look more attractive and elegant, hence, increasing sales. Such well-created catalogs also increase engagement on the VDP, motivating a potential buyer to browse the car completely instead of exiting the page.

Isn’t it truly a holistic solution for every business selling cars online?


Final word

Car photography is a tricky job. It takes creativity, hard work, and a lot of time and preparation. Therefore, the fat cheques that car photographers charge are worth every penny. However, it does not mean that car sellers online should let go of an opportunity to find a more innovative and inexpensive alternative.

If you are looking to run creative campaigns and cinematic ads to promote your car business online, you must opt for professional photographers. However, cataloging is a perennial process. It needs a solution that is scalable, feasible, and generates high-quality output. Spyne is a blessing if you are looking for solutions like these.

Get in touch with us today and ensure that your catalogs are best-sellers.


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  • Q. How do you shoot a luxury car?

    Unlike regular passenger cars, luxury car photoshoot almost always consists of glamor shoots, even when the intent is commercial! High-end cars attract buyers through the following – appealing design, brand image, and premium features – not necessarily in that order.

    To show off a luxury car’s design, you need to plan out your photoshoot session. Select a theme – power, technology, etc. – that suits the vehicle and then proceed accordingly. Experiment with the angles and framing to get the best results. Remember to highlight the best features – design or otherwise – in your car portrait shoots.

  • Q. How do I find good car photography services near me?

    The easiest way to find good-quality photography services near your business is to search for them online. Search “car photography near me” on Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and browse through the different services listed there. You can also search for photographers on platforms like Thumbtack or Yelp. You can even check the reviews and ratings for their services there. Always remember to go through the portfolio of all the potential photographer candidates before hiring them, to see if their style matches your brand aesthetic.

  • Q. Why is automotive photography so expensive?

    Professional automobile photoshoots can be expensive, mainly because it involves a lot of hard work and investment, not to mention top-notch skills! Apart from shoots, you also need to get the images edited for maximum impact.

    If vehicle photography prices are bothering you, you can check out AI-powered, self-serve photography solutions, like Spyne. Not only do you get high-quality images, but you also get them quickly and at extremely affordable prices.

Written by

Team Spyne

Young, enthusiastic, and curious are the three words that describe Spyne’s content team perfectly. We take pride in our work - doing extensive research, engaging with industry experts, burning the midnight oil, etc. Every word we write is aimed at solving our readers’ problems.

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