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How To Take Great Pictures At Your Next Car Show

blue car

You know that moment when you step out into your backyard and spot a full moon? It’s beautiful, it’s awesome, it’s fantastic. So much so that you just have to take out your smartphone and snap a picture...

And then the rush falls away into a damp squib. You’ve got a dot. A very white dot. But still a dot. You might as well have taken a picture of a mothball at the back of your closet. 

This kind of disappointment isn’t exclusive to the moon, either. We as photographers have lots of moments where the world in front of us is far more beautiful to the eye than it is to the lens. We don’t quite know why, it just is. 

Now, if you’re a car lover, you’re probably reading this article thinking: yup, welcome to the club. And it’s true. Photographing cars is way harder than it should be, which is a shame because cars make great subjects for a photographer. 

During car shows, for instance, there are so many different varieties to capture and show off. Each one deserves to be snapped, to be Instagrammed, to be given a home in a beautiful, square photo book. But they can’t, because the photos just aren’t good enough.

But another thing that we photographers have in common is perseverance. We never give up. And here at MySocialBook, that’s a sentiment that we stick to. 

So, in the name of never giving up, we’ve concocted a list of all the things you can do to make your car photos better, ensuring your next car show is captured in the way it should be captured. Starting with the golden rule…

Shoot In The Golden Hour

Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard of the golden hour loads of times. But the thing about car shows is that they take a while. Most car shows in the US will either start at 10 AM and go until 4 PM, or they’ll start at 2 PM and go until 9 PM. The problem with this is that you get too excited and start snapping as soon as you get there. 

Then, by the time the golden hour strikes, you’ve already taken pictures of all the best-looking cars. Make sure you wait for the right time and capture the car in the best light. For another tip, try to find a car that has parked in the shade. If you capture it in the shadowline, you can avoid harsh light and get some beautiful reflections in the process.

Forget What We’ve Told You

We wrote a blog recently about how to take good pictures of the stars, discussing all the various apps that can help you in the process. 

Well, when it comes to capturing cars, we’re going to politely request you disregard those tips. This isn’t about fiddling around with apps and trying to find things to help you. The car is the car. It’s not changing. The only app you need is a photo editing app to touch it up after the fact. In the meantime, just stay lively, capture the moment, and don’t overcomplicate things.

Allow The Car To Eat Everything

We read a blog recently where the writer advised us to capture the entire landscape around the car, but once again, we’re going to politely refute that claim. If you capture the entire landscape, the car is going to become less of a subject and look smaller and less significant as a result. 

This is not the time to be subtle, so we recommend you fill the frame with the car and capture all of the intricate details. By doing this, you’ll really show off the character of the car and the majesty of the design.

Get Low, Low, Low, Low…

Another thing that people get wrong when shooting cars? Taking the shot at their level. It’s the same with kids, if you get down to their level, then they’re going to be amplified as a subject and the picture will tell the story of the world as they see it. Getting down low will show off the car better, and the sky above will give it more of a substantial backdrop.

For an added edge, you can tilt the phone a bit too. Tilting the horizon can offer a new, almost kinetic perspective to the car, and it will make the composition look better too. It also looks more professional and it will make people think you know what you’re doing, which is good if you're uploading these pictures to a photo book maker!

Get It Moving – WIthout Getting It Moving

Speaking of kinetic perspectives, the best way to shoot a good car picture is by giving it a bit of movement and life. We don’t mean getting in the car and speeding off – it’s hard to take a picture from the inside, and besides, the car’s not actually yours. We mean carrying out some clever trickery with your phone. 

With an ND filter, you can drag and slow down the shutter speed, panning quickly while snapping. This will make the surroundings look blurred, while the subject itself remains clean and crisp – giving the illusion of movement. Trust us, if you try this one out during your next car show, everyone’s going to be wondering why their pictures aren’t as good as yours. Just tell them you came here. Or don't and keep the secret for yourself. It's up to you!


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