Uncovering Different Types of Car Photography You Must Know

Michael • February 20, 2023 • 8 min read

Different Types of Car Photography

Car photography is a field that requires an eye for detail, creativity, and technical skill. Whether you’re capturing classic vintage cars, high-speed race cars, or simply showcasing the latest model on the market, each type of car photography presents its own unique challenges and opportunities.

As a car photographer, it’s important to understand the different styles and techniques involved in each type of car photography in order to achieve professional results.

In this article, we’ll dive into the various styles of car photography, including studio photography, on-location photography, action shots, product shots, and more, to give you a comprehensive understanding of this exciting and dynamic field. So buckle up and let’s take a ride through the world of car photography..

Overview of Car Photography

Car photography is a specialized field that needs technical knowledge, creativity, and the right tools. Whether you’re showing off a classic car, a race car, or a family car, your car photography should show what the car is like and what makes it special.

Car photography is a powerful tool for showcasing a vehicle’s unique features and aesthetic appeal. The benefits of car photography include increased visual appeal and interest in the car, improved sales and marketing potential, and the ability to highlight specific details and design elements. Learn more about this genre at what is car photography here.

Importance of Understanding Different Types of Car Photography

Knowing the different types of car photography is crucial to achieving the desired results. It’s important to understand the unique characteristics of each type and choose the best approach for each project. The type of car photography chosen will impact the lighting, equipment, and techniques used.

The goal of this article is to give an in-depth look at the different kinds of car photography and what makes them unique. We’ll explore the equipment, lighting, and techniques used in each type and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur, this article will provide you with the knowledge and information you need to get started in car photography.

Studio car photography

1. Studio Car Photography

Studio car photography is taking pictures of a car in a controlled studio setting. The car is usually placed on a turntable and photographed from different angles, providing a complete 360-degree view of the car. Studio car photography is ideal for showcasing the car’s features and design.

Equipment Used in Studio Car Photography

For studio car photography, you need a turntable, lighting, and camera equipment, among other things. The most important piece of equipment for studio car photography is the lighting, as it provides the necessary illumination for the car’s features to be captured.

Most of the time, a professional photographer will use multiple lights and reflectors to get the lighting effect they want.

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Lighting Techniques for Studio Car Photography

In studio car photography, lighting is used to showcase the car’s features and highlight its design. There are several lighting techniques that can be used, including backlighting, front lighting, and side lighting.

Each technique provides a unique look and feel to the car, and the choice of technique will depend on the desired results.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Studio Car Photography

The best thing about studio car photography is that you can control the lighting and setting. The studio environment provides a controlled environment where the photographer can experiment with different lighting techniques and capture the best images of the car.

On the other hand, studio car photography can be time-consuming and requires a significant amount of equipment.

On-location car photography

2. On-Location Car Photography

On-location car photography is the process of capturing images of a car in its natural environment, such as on the road, at a car show, or in a scenic location.

On-location car photography gives the vehicle a more natural and realistic appearance and highlights its capabilities in action.

Equipment Used in On-Location Car Photography

On-location car photography requires a different set of equipment compared to studio car photography. This is due to the challenges that come with shooting in an outdoor environment, such as changing lighting conditions and the need to be mobile. Here is a list of equipment that is commonly used for on-location car photography:

  • Camera: A professional-level camera with good image quality is essential for capturing high-quality images. Some popular options include the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or the Sony Alpha a7 III.
  • Lenses: Wide-angle lenses are ideal for on-location car photography as they allow you to capture the car and its surroundings in one shot. A 24-70mm or a 16-35mm lens is a good choice.
  • Tripod: A sturdy tripod is necessary to ensure stability and avoid camera shake during long exposures.
  • Reflectors: Reflectors are useful for bouncing light onto the car and filling in any shadows.
  • Portable lighting: On-location car photography often requires additional lighting to control the exposure and add drama to the image. Portable flashes and LED lights can be used to achieve this.

Lighting Techniques for On-Location Car Photography

One of the biggest challenges of on-location car photography is controlling the lighting. Here are a few lighting techniques that you can use to achieve professional results:

  • Natural light: Utilizing natural light, such as the sun or the sky, can add depth and texture to your images. Experiment with different times of day to find the best light for your shoot.
  • Reflection: Using a reflector to bounce light onto the car can help fill in any shadows and give the image a more balanced look.
  • Portable lighting: Portable lightings, such as flashes or LED lights, can be used to add drama to the image and control the exposure. Try using them in combination with natural light to achieve the desired look.

Advantages and Disadvantages of On-Location Car Photography

Just like any other type of photography, on-location car photography has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here is a list of some of the most significant ones:


  • Real-life environment: On-location car photography allows you to capture the car in its natural environment, which can give the images a more authentic feel.
  • Unlimited backdrops: The outdoor environment provides an unlimited number of backdrops that can be used to create visually stunning images.
  • Flexibility: On-location car photography is much more flexible than studio photography as it allows you to change the location and shoot in different weather conditions.


  • Changing lighting conditions: One of the biggest challenges of on-location car photography is controlling the lighting, especially when shooting in different weather conditions.
  • Lack of control: Shooting in an outdoor environment means you have less control over the background and surroundings, which can affect the overall look of the image.
  • Weather conditions: Shooting in inclement weather can be challenging and sometimes impossible.

On-location car photography is a great way to capture the car in its natural environment and create visually stunning images. By understanding the equipment and lighting techniques needed, as well as the advantages and disadvantages, you can achieve professional results in your on-location car photography projects.

Action car photography

3. Action Shot Car Photography

Action shot car photography is when a fast-moving, dynamic moment of a car in motion is caught on film. This type of photography typically involves capturing the car driving at high speeds, performing stunts, or participating in races. It showcases the performance and capabilities of a car in a visually stunning way.

Equipment Used in Action Shot Car Photography

To capture high-speed action shots, photographers need to have the right equipment. Here are some of the essential pieces of equipment for action shot car photography:

  • Camera with fast shutter speed: A camera with a fast shutter speed is essential for action shot car photography, as it helps to freeze motion and prevent blur. A minimum shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second is recommended.
  • Telephoto lens: Telephoto lenses have a longer focal length and help to isolate the car from its surroundings, making it the center of attention. A lens with a focal length of 70-200mm is suitable for action shot car photography.
  • Tripod or monopod: Tripods and monopods are useful for stabilizing the camera and reducing camera shake during high-speed action.
  • Memory card with fast write speed: A memory card with a fast write speed is crucial for action shot car photography, as it helps to store images quickly and minimize the risk of missing a shot.
  • External flash: External flashes can help to freeze motion and add extra light to a scene, making it easier to capture sharp images.

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Techniques for Capturing High-Speed Action Shots

Use a fast shutter speed: The faster the shutter speed, the better, as it helps to freeze motion and prevent blur.

  • Panning: Panning is a technique where the camera is moved in the same direction as the moving car. This helps to capture a sense of motion and speed in the image.
  • Freeze motion with flash: Using an external flash can help to freeze motion and create sharp images. Flash duration is often faster than a camera’s shutter speed, allowing for a motion to be captured with minimal blur.
  • Focus on the subject: When capturing high-speed action shots, it is important to focus on the subject. Use the focus tracking feature on your camera to keep the car in focus as it moves.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Action Shot Car Photography


  • Showcases the performance and capabilities of a car
  • Creates visually stunning images
  • Provides a sense of speed and motion


  • Can be difficult to capture sharp images due to the fast-moving subject
  • Requires specialized equipment and technical knowledge
  • Can be dangerous and requires caution when capturing high-speed action

Product car photography

4. Product Shot Car Photography

Car product shot photography is a type of photography that focuses on capturing high-quality images of a car for marketing and advertising purposes. This type of photography is used to showcase the car’s design, features, and specifications, and to highlight its unique selling points.

Equipment Used in Product Shot Car Photography

Here are some of the essential pieces of equipment for car product photography:

  • Camera with high megapixel count: A camera with a high megapixel count is crucial for product shot car photography, as it helps to capture high-quality images with a lot of detail.
  • Tripod: A tripod is essential for product shot car photography, as it helps to keep the camera steady and eliminate camera shake.
  • Lighting equipment: Proper lighting is crucial for product shots, as it helps to bring out the best features of the car. Continuous lighting or strobe lighting can be used to create the desired look, and softboxes and reflectors can be used to control the direction and intensity of the light.

Techniques for capturing high-quality product shots

  • Angle of view: Experimenting with different angles of view can help to capture the car in the most flattering way. High angles can help to showcase the car’s lines and curves, while low angles can help to emphasize its size and power.
  • Composition: Consider the composition of the shot, paying attention to the background and any elements in the foreground. Try to keep the background simple and uncluttered, as a distracting background can take away from the beauty of the car.
  • Use of reflection: Reflective surfaces such as mirrors or puddles can add an extra dimension to the product shot, highlighting the car’s curves and details.
  • Post-processing: Post-processing techniques such as color correction, exposure adjustments, and sharpening can help to bring out the best in the product shot.

Advantages and disadvantages of product shot car photography

  • Advantages
    Product shot car photography allows for a high level of control over the lighting and composition of the shot, resulting in clean and professional-looking images. The focus is solely on the car, highlighting its features and details.
  • Disadvantages
    Product shot car photography can be time-consuming and require a significant amount of setup and equipment. The shots may also appear staged and lack a sense of excitement or movement.

5. Styles of Car Photography

1. Lifestyle Car Photography

This type of car photography is all about capturing the car in a lifestyle setting, showing it in use in everyday life. This type of photography often involves people and a setting that emphasizes the car’s features, such as a scenic road trip or a cityscape.

This type of photography often requires a more natural and organic feel, with less focus on the technical aspects of photography and more on the overall story being told.

2. Race Car Photography

Race car photography is a unique and challenging field that requires quick reflexes and a keen eye for detail. Capturing the speed and energy of race cars as they hurtle around a track requires specialized equipment and a deep understanding of the sport.

From capturing the drama of the starting grid to the excitement of the finish line, race car photography is an exhilarating form of motorsports photography that offers endless opportunities for creativity and expression.

3. Vintage Car Photography

Vintage car photography is a unique and beautiful way to capture the charm and elegance of classic vehicles. The use of natural lighting and interesting environments can bring these classic cars to life and show off their beauty. 

4. Aerial Car Photography

Aerial / drone car photography involves capturing the car from above, either by using a drone or a helicopter. This type of photography allows you to see the car in a unique and exciting perspective, often highlighting its design, size, and overall aesthetic.

5. Night Car Photography

This type of car photography involves capturing the car at night, often using long exposures to capture the lights and reflections of the city. This type of photography can be challenging but can lead to some truly beautiful and dramatic results.

6. Concept Car Photography

This type of car photography is focused on capturing the design and style of concept cars, showcasing their unique features and futuristic design. This type of photography often requires creative lighting and shooting techniques to bring out the car’s design and highlight its futuristic features.

Tips on How to Get Started with Car Photography

Good planning and knowledge is needed before starting out with a car photography business, make sure you make your research before starting:

  • Choose the Right Camera: Invest in a high-quality camera that is suitable for the type of car photography you plan to do, whether it’s a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
  • Know Your Equipment: Get familiar with your camera and lens, as well as other essential equipment such as tripods, light modifiers, and reflectors.
  • Study Lighting Techniques: Understanding lighting techniques is key to creating visually stunning car images. Study how to use natural light, artificial light, and reflectors to your advantage.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Practice makes perfect, and the same is true for car photography. Take advantage of any opportunity to practice, whether it’s shooting cars at a local car show, or borrowing a friend’s car for a photo shoot.
  • Develop a Style: Find your own style and stick to it. Whether you prefer dramatic lighting, bright and bold colors, or a more minimalist approach, consistency is key to developing a recognizable body of work.
  • Network and Market Yourself: Network with other car photographers, automotive enthusiasts, and potential clients. Share your work on social media and develop a professional website to showcase your portfolio and attract potential clients.


In this article, we looked at the different kinds of car photography, such as studio automotive photography, on-location car photography, action shot car photography, product shot car photography and others. Understanding each type of car photography and what makes it different is important if you want your projects to look professional.

By utilizing the appropriate type for each project, you can showcase your car in the best light possible and create visually stunning images that capture the essence of the car.

Whether you are a professional photographer or simply someone who loves capturing cars, understanding the different types of car photography is key to achieving professional results.

By using the right equipment, lighting techniques, and understanding each type’s unique characteristics, you can create stunning images that showcase the car in its best light.

What are your different types of Car Photography? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.

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