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Tips On How to Properly Photograph Your Ride

If you want to see your car online or in print then follow these basic guidelines to maximize your chances

Nov 13, 2018
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First off, let me apologize to the owners of the cars I talk about and whose cars I use as examples in this editorial. Your cars are super cool; I know you put a lot of time, money, and work into them; and I’m sure you would love to see them in print, so consider this constructive criticism. First off, if you want your car in the reader’s rides section just know that we don’t expect you to shoot like a professional, but you need to meet us at least halfway.

Every week I get emails from readers who want to show off their pride and joy in the magazine. But I shed a tear whenever I click open a file only to find a picture that I just can’t use. Many of the photographic transgressions are minor, but they are enough to relegate the submission to either the circular file or the “run if desperate” file folder. So, in the interest of seeing more of your sweet Chevys in the magazine and online, let’s delve in the most common mistakes and how to make them right.

You would think posing a car would be easy. It’s not. There are many fine books out there about posing subjects for photography, but if you’re short on time just use the monkey-see-monkey-do art of photography. Look in very pages of the magazine or online and copy how we pose a car. Now, you most likely don’t have fancy lights and reflectors like we do, so cheat and shoot the sunny side of the car. Be careful about light hitting your lens and washing everything out. Typically, a front three-quarter shot works best with the sun behind you (but not so low that your shadow creeps into the photo and onto the car). Turn the wheel so it faces the camera. After all, this isn’t a tire commercial, so we don’t need to see your tread pattern.


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This Chevelle was already dark, so backlighting it made matters even worse. It’s also really close to having part of the front bumper cut off. Lastly, turning the wheel to the right would really help since we would rather see the wheel than tread. On the plus side, the location is nice.


Give the car some space. My rule of thumb is once get your car framed in your viewfinder take a couple of steps back. This will ensure that you don’t cut off part of your car. After all, we can crop in if needed, but we can’t create what isn’t there. Also, turn off the date stamp and set your camera to its highest resolution. When used in print, your 178kb sized image will either look like a postage stamp or a grainy glob if we ran it, which we won’t.

Be sure to check your backgrounds. Nobody wants to see your neighbor’s trash can, Prius, or people walking around in the background. Avoid shooting your car on grass; there was a time when this was fashionable, but it’s not a car’s natural element and makes about as much sense as moving cows to a racetrack for a photo shoot.


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Why is a tiny man standing on the trunk of this Camaro? The location here is good and has real potential, but people randomly roaming around in the background just kills it. Also, in general, grass is for cattle and lawn mowers, so avoid the temptation and shoot your car on pavement.


Don’t take this the wrong way, but this is a car magazine so the only people who’d care to see you or your family in the shot is you or your immediate family, so please focus on the Chevy and stay behind the camera. Lastly, the great thing about digital photography is that you can review your work; so do that. Look at the back of the camera and ask, “Does my car look like something I would see the pros do?” Your car is cool and it deserves a little extra effort. If I had a dollar for every car quickly shot in a driveway by someone most likely wearing PJs I would be retired on a beach someplace. So, put in a bit of effort and we look forward to seeing your super Chevys in the book and online!

Oh, and when you send us that perfect picture make sure to give us some info about you and your car. You would be amazed how many people don’t even give basic info such as their full name. Send off those images and words to me at SRupp@enthusiastnetwork.com and be sure to put Bowtie Keepers in the subject line.

Photography by Steven Rupp

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