10 Car Show Photography Tips

The weather is starting to get warmer and you know what that means? Car shows!. The first thing you need to make interesting photographs at a car show is that you gotta love cars. A passion for your subject is a plus and enables you to look beyond the surface of a car to see its essence, its soul.


  • Tip #1: Before taking pictures try to talk to the owner. You don’t need to be an expert; just be curious and polite. Most owners can talk for hours about their cars because there never was a restoration project that didn’t have some interesting twists and turns.
  • Tip #2: Try not to make photographs with the hoods raised. Many owners like to display the cleanliness or sparkling chrome underneath but that’s not the best way to photography a vehicle because it breaks up the car’s lines. Ask the owner if they would close the hood so you can make a photograph. In exchange, offer to send them a file for their Facebook page.
  • Tip #3: It’s a good idea to remove show placards placed on the dash or under the windshield wiper. Politely ask the owner before touching any part of his or her car!
  • Tip #4: Don’t be frustrated by the lack of space and crowded conditions found at shows, make a few images of parts of cars.
  • Tip #5: Get close to the car. Begin by working in close and gradually back off until extraneous non-car details or people start to appear in the frame.


  • Tip #6: Tilt the camera to provide a dynamic image. The crowds at most car shows are some of the most polite people you will find anywhere but make it almost impossible to use a tripod.
  • Tips #7: Dress comfortably and wear the kind of clothing you won’t be afraid to get dirty when trying to get an interesting camera angle. For outdoor shows, be sure to wear a hat to keep the sun off your head and be sure to wear sunscreen.
  • Tip #8: Take advantage of the best light get to the show early and stay late. As cars began to leave, space opens up allowing you to photograph entire cars as well as some of the environment.
  • Tip #9: When photographing cars late in the day, ask the owner to turn on the parking lights to add a subtle glow to the side marker, taillights, and turn signals.
  • Tip #10: Next to a camera and a good wide-angle zoom lens, the most important thing to bring to a car show is lots of memory cards. You never know when you’ll get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to photograph a rare or exotic automobile.

Meet me at Cars & Coffee at the Vehicle Vault on April 11. See their website for details.If you get a chance, please visit my automobile photography website www.JoeFaraceShootsCars.com.

Author: Joe Farace

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