Scrolling through Instagram you’ll come across some creative and unique shoot concepts and locations, but if there is anything 2020 taught us… we’ve got to work with what we’ve got. Instead of heading out to a fancy location to film our YouTube video this week, we opted for something more convenient. This week, we’re going to do a complete portrait session in a car and give you some fun and fancy car photoshoot ideas to try out.

Car Photoshoot Ideas: Video

I’ve been wanting to do a portrait shoot with just a car because of how available of a prop it is to most people (you can even rent vintage or brand new cars for shoots if you choose). We’re not going to move the car,  we’re not going to introduce flashes…we’re just using natural light and some basic lenses (and our lovely model Alyssa) to give you some car photography ideas.

To start, we’re shooting just before sunset and have placed the car so it is completely backlit. I am shooting on the EOS R with a Rokinon 85mm and Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 shooting anywhere between 1.4-2.0. This allows me to maintain a wide aperture and shoot without increasing my ISO and avoiding grain. For most of these shots I am shooting at a shallow depth of field so that I don’t make it too commercialized (which is great for automotive photography) and showcase the branding, but you can definitely make the artistic choice to do the opposite and bump up your aperture accordingly. Let’s dive into some of my favorite car photoshoot ideas!

Car Photoshoot Idea #1: Open the Door

Alyssa opened the door to start modeling inside the car and that’s when the first idea came into play. When you think of using such a big prop like a car you want to split the parts into separate props, that way it seems like you’re making the most out of one prop. Similar to how if you shot in a house, you would move around to make it seem like you’re in multiple locations. There are a couple of ways to use a door for car photoshoots:

  1. Place the model in front of the door and lean up against the car.
  2. Place the model inside the driver’s seat and shoot through the door window.
  3. Place the model inside and open the driver’s side window and use it as a frame.
  4. Open the door halfway and have the model step out of the car.
  5. Open the door fully and have the model sit inside.
  6. Open the door halfway and shoot through the crack of the door and the car.

1 car photoshoot ideasAs you watch the video you’ll notice I move Alyssa from position to position with ease because it’s all revolving around the door and moving the subject around it. Play around and see what poses work with door. You’ll find that action based poses tend to look more natural than catching the gaze of your model so test out a few where you direct your subject to open the door, step in, step out, etc.

Car Photoshoot Idea #2: Find Reflections

car photoshoot ideas photographyThe beautiful thing about cars is the opportunity to see and find unique compositions that we know exist because we happen upon them while driving. For example, we use our rear view and side view mirrors daily while driving (I hope you do). Direct your model to look at the mirror and shoot from the backseat or outside the car to get more of a voyeristic portrait of your subject.

Car Photoshoot Idea #3: Car Exterior

2 car photoshoot ideasOne of the easiest ways to showcase the entire car and the subject is to use a wide lens and get down low. This gives the car more presence in the frame and let’s you see it in its entirety. This is also a great change to highlight some specific features that are unique to the car like rims, any additions to the back, or the logo in the front. This is also a great opportunity to grab portraits of your model where the car is just a backdrop or background prop and not a secondary subject.

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