A Guide to Photographing Cars!

*all Automotive Photography Images courtesy of Greg Castell of Flat 6 Photowerks

Cars make for great photography subjects and whether you're a professional or beginner, there’s something for everyone to capture when it comes to automotive photography. From leading lines, glossy paint jobs, emblems, and design details, cars are full of photographic opportunities. Explore the gear you’ll need to capture cars and techniques you can use to elevate your automotive photography! 

As always a high-quality camera is a great place to start! Excellent image quality is the foundation of great photos! While most cameras can get the job done, including your smartphone camera, we recommend cameras with top of the line sensors and excellent low-light capabilities. 

Check out our favorite cameras for automotive photography:

When it comes to capturing cars, the best lens for the job can depend on what you are trying to photograph. Wide-Angle Lens are ideal for capturing images of the entire car and its surroundings which is great for landscape shots with interesting backgrounds that can really enhance or composition and add some context to your image. These lenses are also useful for photographing cars in busy or tight spaces and give you a wider field of view when space is tight. 

Great wide angle lenses include: 

Keeping these basic, standard zoom and primes lenses are also great to have on hand. Zoom lenses offer a ton of versatility and allow you to capture different types of photos, such as detail shots and landscape shots, all with one lens. Zoom lenses also bring a more natural perspective to your images, replicating what the human eye sees, compared to wide angle lenses. Prime Lens with wide apertures offer similar advantages in terms of natural perspective while having excellent low-light and bokeh capabilities. Prime lenses are great for capturing details or portraits of cars with a shallow depth of field.  

Shop our Zoom + Primes lens recommendations: 

Zoom Lenses

Prime Lenses


If you’re looking to capture small details of the car’s emblems, interior, or design features you may want to consider adding a macro lens to your kit! These lenses are built for capturing close-up shots of intricate details and are perfect for highlighting stitching, textures, or designs that other lenses might miss. Macro lenses provide high magnification and sharpness, allowing you to explore the small details that can make cars such beautiful subjects.

Shop Macro Lenses

If you’re photographing cars on the move,  telephoto lenses are perfect for isolated distant subjects. These lenses are perfect for action and candid shots you may want to capture during events or races.

There are plenty of accessories that can help you take your automotive photography to the next level but our favorite choices for car photography are a good, sturdy tripod, polarizing filters, and remote shutter releases. 

Tripods will help you keep your camera steady and are especially useful in lowlight conditions where camera shake can really impact the quality of  your images. A remote shutter release button works hand in hand with tripods in lowlight conditions to further eliminate shake and keep your photos sharp

Polarizing filters are especially useful when capturing cars. These filters reduce glare and reflections on the car's surface resulting in enhanced colors and contrast in your photos. 

Now that you’ve got the gear, it’s time to explore the techniques to take your automotive photography to the next level. 

Location Scouting: For landscape and wide angle shots, a background that complements the aesthetics of your subject is essential. Depending on the vehicle an urban setting, scenic countryside, or an empty parking lot might be best depending on the look you are going for. Environment can significantly impact the mood and narrative of your photos so make sure to put some thought into this!

Lighting: As with all photography genres, lighting plays a crucial role in car photography. Soft, diffused natural light is best as it lights the vehicle with a warm, flattering glow. Shooting shortly after sunrise or before sunset will help you achieve this soft lighting. You’ll want to avoid shooting cars in harsh midday sun, which can create unflattering shadows and highlights.

Experiment with Angles: Find the leading lines, details, and features of the car and experiment with angles that highlight them! Cars often have distinctive features that can really bring a whole other artistic layer to your images. Capture the car from several different angles and see which works best compositionally!

Showcase Details: Cars are full of intricate machines with plenty of  details waiting to be captured. Emblem badges, exhaust pipes, wheel rims, and other unique features define the car's character and can be a calling card when it comes to the many different brands of vehicles. Use these details to set your subject and your images apart from the others. Using shallow depth of field is a great way to draw attention to these details! 

Capture Motion: While stationary cards can be a blast to capture, you may want to try to bring a sense of movement to your images by capturing it in motion. Panning is great technique for conveying speed and excitement and long exposures are perfect for capturing light trails as the car moves through the frame.

Post-production: Editing your photos is important but it’s important to make sure your car maintains a natural look. Adjust exposure, contrast, and color balance to refine your images, but avoid over-editing which can impact the authenticity of  your image and subject. .

Photographing cars blends great gear, technical skill, and creativity. Grab your camera and try your hand at transforming ordinary cars into exciting subjects! Whether you're capturing classics, exotic supercars, or rugged off-roaders, experiment and let your creativity flourish! 

If you’re still looking for some guidance, join us in Cleveland for an Automotive Photography Workshop with Cleveland Automotive Photographer, Greg Castell. Photograph a car in an on-site shoot with guidance from Greg and then head back to Pixel Connection for an editing session! 

Check out this workshop and sign up today

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