Top tips for creative car photography.

Learn how to take creative photos at car shows.

Car shows are some of the best places to learn how to create great images of cars. It gives you a lot of cars to photograph. But, you also have to consider whether you want people in your pictures. I have learned some creative ways to do that; keep reading to learn how I do it.

When to photograph cars.

The best time to photograph cars outdoors is like most times outdoors; it’s called the golden hour. The time is an hour after the sun starts rising and an hour before the sun sets. But, of course, weather plays a significant role also. For example, I recently photographed some cars on their way to a car show held at a cemetery. 

I checked the weather and saw there could be some fog, so I got there early and got some beautiful shots. Light is always the most important thing in photography, so weather changes your light, which sometimes adds to your images. But, on the other hand, it might make it more difficult in low-light situations. So be prepared to use a high ISO, which I will review soon. 

Being early is my best tip on when to go out to photograph cars at car shows. Getting them coming off their trailers can make for some interesting images. You also get to capture them in different locations.

Your background is just as important as the car.

One of the first things I learned with macro flower photography was that the background is just as important as the flower I was photographing. I watched a great photographer named Steven Hunter move some twigs under a flower.

 I asked him why? He said, “You could take a shot of a beautiful flower, but if something is in the background that distracts you from the flower, the person looking at it will be distracted, taking away from the beauty of the flower.”

It’s just as important in car photography. I take a lot of images on the ground, and there is nothing worse than thinking I took a beautiful shot of a car, and when I get home and edit them, someone’s feet or legs are in my image and are distracting from the image. 

So make sure to check all around your composition to see if there might be something; if there is, you could move a little bit, but you won’t be able to see it.

Look for reflections.

Some of my favorite car images are reflection images. You can capture them in hubcaps and windows; the car’s body is my favorite style. When I first get to a car to photograph it, I walk all around the car, looking for different types of reflections and angles. 

Most of the time, it’s cars with hub caps, but cars with large finders or bodies are an excellent place to start. I put my F-Stop at around F-12 or F-14. It would be best if you had that much depth to get the car’s or cars’ reflection in focus. 

Take a look around the cars depending on where there parked. For example, I would look at the windows if there parked close to buildings. Also, see what reflection you can get in the car’s mirrors. Then, have fun and look around to see what you can find to photograph. 

Pan for a blurred effect. 

This takes a lot of practice to get great blurred images. The settings you will need to use depends on how much light there is and how close you are to your subject. It would be best to have your shutter speed slow enough but not too slow. 

The image above settings I used are as follows F-Stop was set an F-22, and the ISO was 160 using aperture priority. The shutter speed was 1/20th of a second.

The lens I used was a Sigma 55mm to 200mm. It takes a lot of experimenting but keep trying until you get the desired results. 

Composition is always important.

We all know that composition is probably one of the most important parts of creating a beautiful and interesting image in any photograph you take. They are all kinds of rules for that to happen.

But I break all the rules they say not to break, so I won’t go into depth about them. The best advice I can give you is some advice my aunt Kathey gave me was to look at the world from a baby’s point of view.

I’m on the ground looking up a lot when I’m taking photos in the field. Try all types of ways to compose your shots. The rule of thirds is a good rule, but I like creative images, and sometimes I have to break that rule because following that rule to me stops me from being creative.

Night shot techniques.

You have to use a high ISO to get good results with taken shots in low light. Most of mine are shot at 3200 ISO. If you have a fixed focal length lens that lets in a lot of light is best. Also, using a tripod helps. 

You can use flash to add some fill light, but I try to find other types of light that come from the surroundings or cars I photograph. Make sure you have an ISO that allows you to get sharp images; if not, they probably won’t look that great. 

Camera Settings. 

I use aperture priority most of the time or manual mode. When it’s bright out, I like to use an F-Stop like F-12 to capture reflection shots because the sun reflections look like stars. I use automatic ISO because I go back and forth with changing the F-Stop. The range is between F 5.6 to F 22. 


Get to your car’s location early because morning light can be some of the best light you might get. Make sure to bring extra batteries and memory cards. Take a lot of images and, most of all, have fun and enjoy seeing the cars and talking to the owners. 

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