- If you’re both a digital photography and automobile enthusiast (or a pro looking for business), then an outdoor car show may a good place for you to spend some time. You’re virtually guaranteed to see cars that aren’t typically found amongst the daily commuter traffic. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with owners of these unique rides and ask them to permit you to shoot images of their cars. You can show them your “raw” shots, before any software editing, and quite possibly find a new client or two that want to buy what you’ve photographed or to schedule a private photo shoot.
Attending an outdoor car show is not just a matter of snapping pictures right and left. You’ll find it very helpful to read this two-part PhotographyTalk.com article first, which has 11 tips that will make your experience more interesting and fun, improve the photos that you shoot and be recognized by the owners as a digital photographer they might want to hire.
Be the Early Bird and Late Bird.
Arrive early, even before the official opening time of the show because there will be very few display cars on the grounds early in the morning. Most owners don’t leave their cars on the lot overnight; and many don’t arrive until 10 a.m. This gives you plenty of room to shoot these “early-bird” cars without other cars and guests blocking the best views and angles. Plus, early morning sun is one of the best times of the day to photograph cars outdoors.
The same opportunity will present itself at the end of the daily schedule of the show. Some cars will leave early, or you can ask to remain on the grounds after the “official” close, so, once again, you have all that room to capture the best shots of the show. The other best time of the day to photograph cars is during sunset, and even twilight.
Put the Sun in Its Place.
Virtually all excellent automobile photos are shot with the sun behind the photographer. Another advantage of arriving early and staying late is that the early morning sun will give you the best sun direction for some cars and the late afternoon sun for others. Owners are unlikely to move their cars just so you can photograph them in the proper relationship with the sun.
Use Your Flash to Balance the Midday Light.
The worst time of the day to photograph cars is midday, from approximately 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The overhead light will usually cast deep, dark shadows. Use your flash to create balance lighting with the ambient light (sun). You’ll light the shadows and give the car a more dynamic look. (Read Photography Tip—How To Mix Flash and Ambient Light for Better Photos, for more information.)
Start a Dialogue.
Before you start shooting photos of owners’ cars indiscriminately, first act more like a car enthusiast than a photographer and start a conversation. Show interest in their cars and ask them to show you the highlights. After a few minutes of them bragging on their cars, they’ll be much more receptive to allowing you, and even helping you, photograph them. If the doors and hood are open, then, after you’ve talked for a while, you are more likely to convince them to close them, so you can shoot the car. You can also arrange to return at the end of the day and shoot the owner’s car, asking him or her to stay after the close of the show for a few minutes.
Once you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time talking with and, most importantly, listening to car owners, take the opportunity to give them your business card; especially, if one of the reasons you’re attending the show is to find new clients. Let them know you are available for a photo shoot while they’re in town. Another option is to show them the photos you’ve shot in the camera and offer to show them edited images the next day.
Turn Yourself into a Billboard.
One of the best and lowest-cost marketing methods to use at an outdoor car show is to have a T-shirt, or other shirt, printed or silk-screened with your name, photo business name and Web site URL. Although you can iron the graphic onto a shirt yourself, it’s better to have it professionally created.
Read Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com for 5 more tips about how to photograph cars at an outdoor car show.