Car Photography Ideas and Tips for Starters (Learn With Expert)

Whether one finds cars fascinating machines or not, one thing has remained constant throughout their invention – they have shown us the adventure and excitement of the open road. It has gotten more interesting over time that they have grown to become people’s identities.

If you’re a car photography enthusiast or already a practicing one, you sure would find many of the suggestions we will be sharing below. It would include how to use your bokeh effect, shoot your interiors, and move vehicles, and other vehicles photography ideas.

Before we delve into that, let’s start with the basics and an inevitable question every car enthusiast has always asked.

What Are The Car Photography Ideas and Tips?

Here are a few tips you can adopt to give you an exceptional image outcome of your car photography while shooting:

01. Chase the light

This is more of a rule than a suggestion. You need to know when best to set up for a car shot. The best light for shooting is often obtained just before sunrise and briefly after sunset.

Low-angle sunlight brings a certain level of warmth and texture to the picture. The dimmer lighting offers you the luxury of balancing the elements of the image more easily.

Also, don’t forget that if you want the background and foreground equally sharp, you need to bump up the f-stop values of the aperture to higher ones.

Between f/14 to f/20 is shut enough for this. At the same time, you need to adjust the exposure to compensate for the increasing dark image.

02. Avoid eye-level shots

It is easy to fall into the trap of shooting at eye level. This is the view you get while standing in front of the car.

Even though it’s a more natural way of starting, you don’t want to stick with the least adventurous angle.

We dissuade starters from angles like this not just due to its familiarity but because it doesn’t offer the best view of cars.

So, what’s the way to go? Well, you can go low or go high. You can use a ladder for the high angles or hold it as high above your head.

03. Don’t take the obvious shots.

One of the best car shots you can get is one in a parking lot. The idea, however, is to take away this simplicity by making it look like you didn’t shoot in one.

To achieve this, you need to get down low or tight. This is to ensure the pictured surface markings do not betray you. This also makes background objects look stronger.

 04. Capture the quirks

There are some unique features in some cars that are worth celebrating. The BMW i8 with scissor doors is a great example.

The Spirit of Ecstasy in the Rolls Royce phantom is another example. Find unexpected and exciting ways to capture these features.

05. Shoot in a vertical manner

Mobile devices represent vertical images better; hence, don’t forget to squeeze some into the shooting. The challenge is to create a satisfying vertical display of overwhelmingly horizontal subjects.

The trick is quite obvious – Don’t take your shot from the side. Another trick is finding well-balanced strategies to enable you to fill the frame.

What Settings Should I Use for Car Photography?

If you’re starting career photographing a car and uncertain about settings you could try out, the first thing you should be aware of is that in photography a car ; different things can collide and work.

The artistic perspective you bring to it is what makes your set stand out. Nonetheless, let’s run you down on camera settings that enable you to shoot cars like a pro.

Overall, here are brief tips you can try out:

  • You need a wide image aperture of between f/2.8 – f/5 to enable you to blur out the background.
  • It would help if you made sure the can and the background you’re shooting on stay focused. To do this, you must streamline the picture aperture to most effectively f/8.
  • Always make use of ISO 100
  • Shutter speeds of 1/60 are preferable. Please don’t fail to set it at that.
  • Set your camera to auto white balance. This can always be changed if the picture was taken in RAW.

To make more technical sense, we can break everything into two modes – driving and parking, or using the terms that are more common in photography, in-motion and static.

01. Static

On a general note, when shooting pictures of a standing car, what you should first of all consider is the field’s depth.

Do you prefer a shallower DoF, which is about f/4 and even lower? Or are you looking at including the parking setting of the vehicle?

If you’re going with the latter, increasing your camera aperture to f/8 or anything higher is the right thing to do.

Due to cars being longer than images like humans, you typically would need a wide-angle lens to get good shots.

Alternatively, you’ll need to stand a considerable distance from the car to get the entire view of the car captured in your camera.

Due to the field’s nature or depth, even when you’re shooting at the prescribed f/2.8, you’ll get a dependent DoF due to your being distant from the object.

This means that unless you’re looking at making a single detail stand out in the shot, the car’s background would be in the picture.

To solve this dilemma, you must be sure of what story you’re telling and if you’d like your setting to be part of it.

A more general setting commonly adopted for static car photography is a faster shutter speed and a low ISO.

The shutter speed makes for detail and sharpness. The loss of shutter speed can be compensated for with a broad aperture.

If your focus is only on a tiny detail of the vehicle,  you may want to use a shallower depth for the field. F/2.8 is a way to go.

Focusing on a short zone will make a rim, decal focus of your picture, providing you with a creamy and optically-satisfying blur you get in portraits.

02. In-motion

Taking an in-motion picture of your car is an entirely different ball game compared to the static one. If you want to take a few shots of your vehicle in its adrenaline mode of action, there are a few things you have to do differently.

First of all, you need a shutter speed faster than that of the static. This should be about 1/12.5 or faster. This, however, depends on the availability of your light.

If you’re shooting in daylight, you need a crank that can double on speed for enhanced detail and lesser motion blur.

In addition, you need to pan the camera in a side-to-side motion to follow the car’s motion. With a fast shutter speed, the vehicle’s movement would be compensated for.

Your instinct and timing would need to be honed for the panning technique, but it’s rewarding in your photography journey.

You may also want to invest in a monopod to support your pan. This way, you can follow motion with much more ease.

Which Camera is Best for Automotive Photography?

Even though this has remained a subjectively debated topic, the ISO range and other important aspects of the Nikon D7500 have won the heart of many car photographers.

Are you wondering why, amongst many other cameras, Nikon D7500 stands out as an almost unanimous preference? Check this out:

01. Resolution

Even if you aren’t yet a professional photographer, you agree that resolution is a top priority if you want to take great pictures with a long-lasting aesthetic relevance.

Put, if you want to show off the fine details of the vehicle, you can rely on Nikon Z7 II for that, especially if you’ll be doing a lot of static car images.

02. Fast frame rates

The bursting excitement of taking car photos is that you can capture a good image of the car when it’s moving, regardless of the speed. To capture split-second moments like this, you need a camera with a fast frame rate.

03. Amazing autofocus

For techniques like panning, you need a camera like this, with an exceptional tracking focus, especially for active modes.

04. Screen

When trying to capture from unusual angles, a screen that tilts or articulates is incredibly useful to show off the different angles your car can be photographed from, which is why you need a camera like this.

Best Camera for Automotive Photography

We picked the Nikon D7500 DX-format DSLR as the best camera for car photography for the following features:

  • 51 megapixel
  • 5568 X 3712 maximum resolution
  • CMOS 23.5 x 15.6 mm sensor
  • ISO sensitivity type is auto, 100 – 51200
  • Features an auto and manual focus
  • Image stabilization is digital


 Exceptional performance

The Nikon D7500 features a 51-point AF system and has a decent performance when it comes to speed and accuracy. Also, its area AF mode offers a user-enhanced detection and tracking of objects.

It also has 5 AF fields necessary for background isolation. The camera is also a top choice for delivering a shooting speed of 8 fps.

Excellent sensor

It has a 1,800-pixel RGB sensor that handles the white balance and metering. The natural warmth and exposure of the camera are notable and credited to the sensors.

Extended battery life

You don’t want a camera whose battery will die on you when shooting for long hours. Nikon comes with an EN-EL15a battery with a battery life that can allow up to 950 shots.

Comparing this to other camera batteries places the Nikon D7500 way up.

Is the Nikon D3500 Good for Car Photography?

The Nikon D3500 is a good entry point camera for aspiring car photographers. It is perfect for those who want to take great car pictures without breaking the bank to own a camera.

This is a good starting point if you desire to learn to shoot manually.

It has many options to choose from, including standard landscape, Vivid, Monochrome, and Portrait. Nonetheless, some features are lacking here, like a dedicated ISO button.

If you want to have your shots configured on the fly, you may not be able to achieve that.

What Size Lens is Best for Car Photographer to Shoot Photo?

The 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens is the recommended standard and, ideally, one of the most versatile camera lenses for car photography.

For outdoor photography and those willing to capture the car’s surrounding environment, the 24-70 affords you the luxury of widening up to enable you to capture the landscape.

It does all of this while not compromising its speed and sharpness. It also limits the broad focal length to 24mm. This takes away image distortions.

How do Photographers Get Clients for Beginners?

So you’re just starting and wondering how you can get clients to patronize the awesome car photographs you’ve taken.

Well, everyone appreciates beauty, regardless of what medium is represented. This isn’t to say you don’t have to work to stay afloat. These are practicable ways you can source for clients.

  1. Create an easily recognizable niche for yourself
  2. Start with a low price as you work your worth up
  3. Build an undeniable reputation for yourself
  4. Place quality above everything else
  5. Ask for feedback

People Also Ask

What do I do with car photographs after I shoot?

Now that you have been able to get some amazing car photographs, if you’re looking for platforms to put your work out, you can try out stock photography sites like iStock, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and so on.

Here, you can sell your car photographs. Alternatively, you can set up your online store and sell directly through that medium.

What are some suggestions for taking nighttime car photos?

While shooting car photographs at night, the first thing you must do is begin with a shutter speed of, say, 14 seconds. You can now try out longer exposures.

Also, don’t overexpose the headlights, as you need to keep your ISO settings low. Then lastly, familiarize yourself with the use of remote triggers.

How expensive are cameras for car photographer?

If you’re looking at purchasing a quality camera for professional car photographer, peak your budget at somewhere around $1800.

Nikon D7500, arguably the best camera for capture car photos, goes for $997 for the body alone.

There are other mid-budget cameras you can find, but we recommend you don’t place price over quality when looking for a photography camera.

My Final Words

Venturing into car photography is one of the great ways of expressing art, particularly in the automobile industry. The basic information you need to start the industry is highlighted here.

We have layered the article so that absorbing the tips and hacks is easy. You can review it again if you seem to be missing a detail.