The best way to learn how to photograph cars is the same as the classic punchline: “Practice, man, practice.” Automobiles make great photographic subjects. Whether listening to the raspy roar of a Ferrari Formula One car blasting off the banking or enjoying the quiet elegance of a vintage Packard Sport Phaeton parked on the manicured grass of the 18th Hole at Pebble Beach, cars and photography are a natural combination. And all the excitement that surrounds digital imaging can be found in the be-winged, be-skirted sport compact cars that use the latest automotive technology to extract 500 horsepower from a four-cylinder Honda engine. Get out your camera and lets make some pictures of these cars!
On any given weekend there’s a car show or Concours d’Elegance happening somewhere. Heck a local auto shop is having a car show this weekend and I plan to take my new Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lens and try it out. You can find information about these shows in newspapers, enthusiast publications, and the Internet. A growing phenomenon within America’s car culture is impromptu shows not associated with a special event or organization but occur on a regular basis at a local donut shop or burger joint. These gatherings are harder to find but make the effort because they are smaller in size and attract a different kind of enthusiast and cars. Visit shops that cater to cool cars, such as tire and wheel stores, upholstery, or paint shops, in short anyplace where you see interesting cars parked outside. Ask about upcoming shows and locations, including those informal gatherings.
Tip: There isn’t always a car show scheduled so why not shoot your own car? The top photo of my Mercedes 320 SLK ( my wife still misses that car) was made in a local park using a Casio EX-F1 with the camera’s 16×9 ratio capture mode. It was temporarily parked between two No Parking signs, so I “temporarily” parked it, jumped out, and made a few exposures before jumping back in and motoring on. You can see more of our old cars in the Fond Memories gallery.
You can learn how I photographs cars in my e-book, “15 Tips for Better Car Photos“ from Flatbooks.