What is Automotive Photography: Shooting Fast and Furious

Michael • January 19, 2023 • 4 min read

What is automotive photography

In the world of automobiles, there’s nothing quite as alluring as a stunning car photograph.

Whether it’s a sleek sports car cutting through the winding roads of the Italian Alps or a classic muscle car parked on a sunny California street, automotive photography has the power to transport us to another time and place.

But what goes into capturing these iconic images? I set out to find out by looking at some of the top automotive photographers in the game.


 

The Gearheads

When it comes to automotive photography, the gear you use can make or break the shot. And these photographers take their gear very seriously. “It’s all about the lens,” says Joe Polimeni, a New York-based photographer who has shot for some of the biggest car brands in the world. “You want something that’s fast and sharp, with minimal distortion.” Polimeni swears by his Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, which he says is his “go-to” lens for most of his shoots.

But it’s not just about the lens. These photographers also have a lot of different cameras, tripods, and lighting gear. “I always bring a minimum of three cameras with me on a shoot,” says John Lamm, a veteran photographer who has been shooting cars for over 30 years. “You never know when something might break or malfunction, so it’s always good to have a backup.”

Example photo Sedan photographer in Studio
Studio

The Speed Demons

While some car photographers prefer to shoot in the studio, others live for the thrill of capturing cars in motion. “There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting the perfect shot of a car speeding down the road,” says Michael Furman, a renowned photographer who has shot for some of the most prestigious car brands in the world.

But capturing these high-speed shots can be incredibly challenging. “It’s all about timing and anticipation,” Furman explains. “You have to know exactly when the car is going to be in the perfect spot, and you have to be ready to press the shutter button at just the right moment.”

Composition outdoor SUV photo example
Composition

The Composition Kings

When it comes to capturing the perfect shot, the composition is key. “It’s all about finding the right angles and lines to make the car look as sleek and powerful as possible,” says Peter Harholdt, a photographer who has shot for brands like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

But finding the right composition can be a tricky process. “Sometimes it takes hours of scouting and experimenting to find the perfect spot,” Harholdt says. “But when you finally nail it, it’s all worth it.”

Post processing - a car photo example in Lightroom
Post processing

The Post-Processing Pros

Once the shoot is over, the work is far from finished. “Post-processing is just as important as the shoot itself,” says Polimeni. “It’s where you can really fine-tune the image and make it look its best.”

These photographers spend hours in front of the computer, tweaking everything from the color balance to the contrast. “It’s all about making the car look as good as it possibly can,” says Harholdt. “And sometimes that means pushing the limits of what’s possible with the software.”

Final product, car example image
Final car photo

The Final Product

When all is said and done, the end result is a photograph that’s not just a pretty picture, but a work of art. “There’s something special about seeing a car come to life in a photograph,” says Furman. “It’s all about capturing the essence of the car and making people fall in love with it all over again.”


Frequently Asked Questions

What equipment is typically used in automotive photography?

When it comes to gear, these shutterbugs take their equipment very seriously. A fast and sharp lens with minimal distortion is a must-have; many photographers swear by the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8.

In addition to the lens, a wide array of cameras, tripods, and lighting equipment is also a part of their arsenal. Always bring at least three cameras to a shoot; you never know when something will break or malfunction.

How do photographers capture high-speed car action shots?

Capturing high-speed action shots can be incredibly challenging, it’s all about timing and anticipation. These speed demons have to know exactly when the car is going to be in the perfect spot, and they have to be ready to press the shutter button at just the right moment.

It’s a combination of skill, experience, and a bit of luck that goes into capturing the perfect high-speed shot.

How do you scout and find the perfect location for a car shoot?

Finding the perfect location for a shoot can be a tricky process, it’s all about finding the right angles and lines to make the car look as sleek and powerful as possible.

It takes hours of scouting and experimenting to find the perfect spot, but when you finally nail it, it’s all worth it. A good photographer knows how to make the car and the location work together to create a visually stunning image.

Can you explain the post-processing process in car photography?

Post-processing is just as important as the shoot itself, it’s where you can really fine-tune the image and make it look its best. These pros spend hours in front of the computer, tweaking everything from the color balance to the contrast.

It’s all about making the car look as good as it possibly can, and sometimes that means pushing the limits of what’s possible with the software.

Do you need an understanding of the automotive industry to work as a car photographer?

A good automotive photographer has to understand more than just the technical aspects of photography, they also have to understand the industry they are working in. They need to understand the history, design, and engineering of the cars they are shooting.

This understanding allows them to create images that not only look great but also accurately represent the car and the brand.

Conclusion

In conclusion, automotive photography is not just about taking a picture of a car, it’s a complex process that involves a combination of technical skill, creativity, and understanding of the automotive industry.

From selecting the right gear and capturing the perfect composition to fine-tuning the image in post-processing, these photographers put in countless hours to create visually stunning images that transport us to another time and place.

It’s an art form that requires patience, dedication, and a true passion for automobiles. And it’s a world that I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of, and it’s one that I can say, I have a newfound appreciation for.

These photographers, the gearheads, speed demons, composition kings, and post-processing pros, are true masters of their craft, capturing the beauty and power of automobiles in a way that words simply cannot.

Further readings:
Intelligent Cars: AI and the automotive industry
Autonomous Vehicles are going to require a new Brain
The car that cleans the air while driving

What is Automotive 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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