How to take the best picture of a car? Follow a pro’s advice

How to take the best picture of a car? Follow a pro’s advice

LIFESTYLE

Photography is a fun hobby, and one that can lead to great things in this age of social networks. Amy Shore is a professional car photographer, and she’s been kind enough to share her tips on getting the best shot of your four-wheeled friend.

14. 4. 2022

Having specialised in car photography for several years, Amy Shore is a sought-after pro in the world of motoring. “When I was a child, the idea of becoming a professional photographer seemed as unlikely as my chance of becoming an actress,” Amy says. But talent and hard work can overcome any barriers and make what seems like an impossible dream come true.

ŠKODA ENYAQ iV in the centre of Prague, by photographer Amy Shore:

Amy has now been kind enough to share her car photography tips with ŠKODA Storyboard:

1. Location, location, location

You can’t just take pictures of a car just anywhere. “If you take a picture of a car parked next to other cars, however beautiful it may be, it will never stand out,” says Amy. That’s why you need to take your car out for a photo shoot somewhere where it will actually be the focus of the photo. But the ideal place isn’t a space in front of a white wall, or a boring endless road between fields. “You want places that have dynamism and are visually interesting in their own right,” says Amy. “Back home in England, I already have my own database of places that I’ve put together from travelling across the country. If I pass somewhere interesting, I’ll put down a pin on my phone map and take a quick picture of the place with my phone to remind myself of the scene or the light,” says Amy. Amateur photographers make do with Google Maps and Street View. Amy advises looking on maps for places like rivers, twisty roads, or even historic city centres. “I can usually find a church there, and pubs work well in Britain,” smiles Amy. But it’s important to be respectful – never go and take photos where you’re not allowed to take your car, or where photography is not permitted.

2. A mobile phone will do

You don’t need expensive equipment to take a great picture. Compared to other photographers, Amy doesn’t use much kit: just two SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras and a relatively modest (albeit high-quality and expensive by normal standards) set of lenses. “Some of my colleagues also work with lighting and lots of other details in the field, but I like photos with a natural feel and make do with less equipment,” she says. When starting out, she says, even a mobile phone will do. “Some of my images have been published in various books and one of those books is dedicated to mobile photography. So these are pictures that I took with my iPhone and did some simple editing on right on my phone. Yes, mobile phones have limitations as regards lens quality, and especially the level of detail in the images, but for social networking or normal online use, for example, the quality of the images is sufficient,” says Amy. But that doesn’t mean you can just point your phone at the car and be done with it. “You need to stick to the same principles as when shooting with a conventional camera. And of course I always edit the image afterwards, either directly on the phone or on the computer,” adds Amy.

3. Give the car space

There’s one common mistake lots of people make when taking pictures of cars. “They don’t give the car space. There’s just a little frame around the car in the photo, and then it almost looks like you’re viewing the car through some sort of crack,” says Amy. The car, she says, needs space in the photo, it needs “room to breathe”. “Try different compositions, remember the rules of the golden section (eye-pleasing proportions), and leave space around the car in the picture,” Amy advises. Even in a dramatic scene, the car will stand out much better. “Don’t be afraid to use the scene to your advantage. If you’re shooting a car from a crouching position and there’s a beautiful sky above you with dramatic clouds, don’t be afraid to point the lens a little higher, position the car in the bottom third of the image and give the sky space. You’ll see how great the car will look,” explains Amy. And one more point about space in photos: “Don’t be lazy: keep moving. Instead of zooming in, get closer to the car, or move away from it,” Amy advises.

4. Headlights are eyes

We can take photos of a car from lots of different angles, of course, but Amy’s advice is to always start in line with the headlights. “The lights are like eyes. And just like we focus on a person’s eyes in portrait photography, with cars with focus on the headlights,” Amy says. She usually takes all her photos at the level of the car’s headlights – the traditional side profile, but also the three-quarter front and rear angles. “Among other things, these are the angles that make the rear bumper stand out, and that’s usually one of the most important design features on a car,” Amy explains. Only once she has got all the basic views does she move onto other angles. Shooting the car from above never hurts, for example. “Try to use reflections to your advantage. The glass panorama of the roof can create interesting effects, for example,” she says. And in the car’s interior, focus on the overall atmosphere and interesting details.

 5. Develop your own style but don’t overdo it

Any picture you’ve taken will probably need a bit of editing. “The camera is a tool and in our hands it creates a kind of half-finished product. It’s a basic material that has the same quality regardless of the photographer. It’s the subsequent editing that determines the result,” says Amy. First of all, though, it is important to do a good job when you are shooting, because you can’t correct major mistakes when processing the images. “Editing should be used sparingly. It’s about not overdoing it, making the photos artistic. I adjust the contrast a bit, add some warmer colours, work with the brightness,” says Amy, who goes on to advise that everyone should develop their own editing style. The various preset filters in modern apps may be tempting, but you can’t use them as a photographer to create your own signature look. “Don’t copy other photographers. Learn from them, see what editing they do and why, but go your own way. If you just copy, it’s hard to get to the same level as your role model, let alone rise to a whole new level,” Amy adds.

Amy Shore

How did you become a photographer?
My dad was interested in photography and I started taking photos when I was an adolescent. I had a little camera I took everywhere with me: to school, parties and the like. When I was sixteen my parents got me my first SLR and I became serious about photography. After graduating in a completely unrelated field, I said to myself I could make a bit of extra cash taking photographs, so I invested in a better SLR and became a weekend wedding photographer. By pure chance I also took a photo of an interesting replica and my dad and I went to Goodwood. The organisers noticed the picture and that’s how my career got started.

AMZ_6887-copy

As soon as I got close to cars, I knew I’d stay with them thanks to the unique atmosphere that fills the space around them.

What do you consider your biggest success to date?
I’ve photographed amazing cars and wonderful people, including some Formula 1 drivers. But actually earning enough money from photography to buy my own house is my greatest achievement. And then photography allowed me to invest in my friend’s vintage car repair shop. Those are the two things I never cease to be amazed at: I think, “Wow, my camera earned me the money for this.”

What do you like about cars?
I love classic cars. I myself have two vintage cars, two vintage motorbikes, and two not quite brand new cars. What I love about vintage cars is that amazing atmosphere, their history, how people treat them. They love them, that’s all there is to it. And their owners tend to be incredible: they race them hard at Goodwood and then give them tender loving care in their workshops, which are full of memories. It’s an incredible atmosphere.

Do modern cars mean anything to you?
I find their technology fascinating. I think we’ve abused the Earth long enough and this has to change. Electric cars are a fantastic part of this new world. Also, for me as a photographer electric cars are extremely interesting in design terms. The new drivetrain arrangement means the cars’ proportions and looks are different, which I like a lot.

2022_March_Skoda_Thomas_0058.JPGThomas Schäfer as seen by photographer Amy Shore. 

What impression did the ŠKODA ENYAQ COUPÉ iV make on you during the shoot?
This was my first shoot with a ŠKODA and I was really curious about it – not just for the sake of the car but also because I got to meet Thomas Schäfer. It’s not every day that I work with the CEO of a car company. Generally speaking, every time I’m on a shoot the car steps out of the shadows, as it were. When I shoot the car, I’ve already seen it from so many angles and perspectives, I am so familiar with its details that every time I see it on the road I remember the things that caught my eye. And the ENYAQ COUPÉ iV has lots of details like that, of course.

See how Amy Shore photographed the ENYAQ COUPÉ iV with ŠKODA’s chairman of the board

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