What is Automotive Photography?
Also known as car photography or vehicle photography, automotive photography is a deceptively challenging field. Photographers in this niche are specialists in capturing the best features of every vehicle they work with and help to build stunning photographs that speak to the emotions of the viewer.
Where is Automotive Photography Used?
Photographers in this field typically work with car, van, truck, and other vehicle manufacturers to create advertising campaigns for their newest models.
Many automotive photographers may also work with used car dealerships to build a gallery of images for websites and social media.
What Photography Skills Does an Automotive Photographer Need?
Understanding Focal Points
A good automotive photographer can bring cars to life through their work by maintaining focus on the car, or a key aspect of the car they want to emphasize. This means that they have to be masters with lighting to ensure that colors are vibrant, reflective surfaces don’t produce too much glare, and any distracting background features are “washed out” or faded.
Customers want to see cars in action, so automotive photographers need to understand the technical skills of capturing objects in motion. Typically, they do this by using driving shots, tracking shots, panning shots, high-shutter speeds, and other techniques to create the specific emotion requested by a client. The goal of shooting cars in motion is to emphasize that they are “alive”.
While every commercial photographer has to be familiar with editing techniques, automotive photographers have to combine their skills with a camera and a computer to create beautiful, evocative images. Many professional photographers will have tricks to cut down on how much editing time they need, such as only photographing under certain weather conditions to get the perfect lighting, but given that this isn’t always possible, mastery over editing skills is a must.
Background and Location
Automotive photographers need to understand which backgrounds and locations showcase the key selling points of a car. This is why small, compact cars tend to be photographed in the city, while large SUVs will be shot on a muddy field or in the middle of the country. By using locations and certain features in the background, photographers can emphasize a car’s sportiness, practicality, size, or handling.
As with any other kind of commercial photography, automotive photographers have to ensure that customers can tell the brand of the car without any need for text or additional graphics. While most car manufacturers tend to have a similar shape and style to their cars, which often helps with brand recognition, they make sure that the car manufacturer’s logo is clear, unobstructed, and easy to find on every shot.
Knowledge of how to compose macro shots is useful for automotive photographers, particularly when it comes to shooting a car’s interior. By ensuring the focal point of the shot is on interesting features like wood paneling, hand-stitched seats, or the dashboard, professional photographers can showcase a car’s luxury, practicality, or any other unique features that are key selling points for a target audience.
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