Want to take your car photography to the next level? Follow this advice.

Taking photos of cars is easy – just point and shoot. However, if you want to take really good photos of cars, there are some tips, tricks and techniques that can really elevate your shots to the next level.

This is particularly true when shooting cars, with so many different types of shot and considerations to take. Here, we’ve outlined the basics every aspiring car photographer needs to know.

Know your angles

There are a few basic angles that work for every car. You might need to walk around the car to find each model’s most flattering angle, but generally speaking you can use the front three-quarter and rear three-quarter as a starting point.

This involves shooting the front or rear corner of a car so you can see the front or rear as well as one side, showing as much of the car as possible in one shot. Turn the front wheels slightly too, so the face of the wheel is angled towards the camera.

How low can you go?

Anyone can take a ¾ front/rear shot but we view cars like this every day when walking down the high street… Why not get low, flat to the floor. Let the car do the talking, often going lower will put emphasis on the subject (car in this case) and will take your photos to another level – especially if there is water on the ground causing a reflection.

Range Rover with underneath puddle

Buy a polariser

If your camera has a removable lens you can buy a polariser, which sits on the end and redirects the angle of the light entering the camera. This is important with cars because they act like giant mirrors. By turning the polariser you can remove the glare and get a much crisper image.

If you’re using your phone and you have polarised sunglasses, you can achieve the same effect by holding them in front of the lens.


If you’re happy with your photos but what to create a clean and professional look, try investing in some editing software. The Adobe Creative Cloud Suite offers a range of applications where you can clean up your images, enhance colours and ultimately achieve the perfect photo.

Volkswagen Arteon

Work around the sun

Even if you have a polariser, working around the sun is often the best way to get a good shot. You want to avoid direct sunlight, so shooting when it’s overcast or in the shadows is your best bet.

However, if you can’t avoid the sun, plan to shoot in the hours just after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun is lowest in the sky. It’s at this time you get the softest light, and your photos will have a great atmosphere too.

Sun glare

Yes, the sun can be your worst enemy at times but instead of working against it, work with it.

Shoot into the sun, capture the harsh lighting and dramatic shadows that it produces. Experiment


Learn tracking and panning

These techniques involve keeping the car sharp in the image while the background blurs. It’s a cool effect, but it’s a bit more advanced.

To do tracking, you will need to be in a car that’s travelling the same speed as the car you’re shooting, usually about 30mph. You want to use a longer shutter speed – usually match the number to the car speed, in this case 1/30 – and hold the camera steady to make it work. Also use continuous autofocus and burst mode because it’s so hard to get this right.

Panning involves having a car pass you on the road while you’re standing beside it. Again, match your shutter speed to that of the car – between 30 and 40mph – and follow the car with your camera. Try to keep the car in the same spot in the frame as you shoot to make it work.

Light Painting/trails

So if you’ve mastered tracking and panning, try branching out into light paintings. Find a location with low light pollution and rope in a friend to help you… Using a tripod, set a long shutter speed, prepare your ISO and start painting with a torch or anything that gives off light (eg. Sparklers). After a few attempts you can usually capture something ‘other worldly’, give it a go as the possibilities are endless.

Image representing the content

Capture the moment

Type in “cars” to Google and you’ll get just that. Be different, think about what you want your images to portray. Capture the atmosphere, capture how the subject makes you and others feel – be different and tell a story.

Use your surroundings/objects

Shooting out in the open is nice but try to vary your shots. For example, why not use a tree as the foreground, throw a smoke bomb into the mix or put a model in the car to demonstrate the features. Be creative, the sky is the limit.

Share and grow

Once you’re happy with your work, it’s time to share it with the world. There are a range of sites in which you can do this but the best part is the feedback. The photography community is a lovely place and wealth of knowledge that people have is unmatched, so listen to them. Take everything on board and apply it into your next shoot.

Audi q8 with orange smoke

Did you find this blog helpful? If so, we’d love to see what you create so make sure to tag us @swanswaygroup in your social media posts!



Share this article

You May Also Like...