When we have a car on review, we love to make the most of the opportunity and that generally means taking it out of its ‘comfort zone’. This week, I look at one of the most important factors in getting some great shots of car, and how going the extra mile (to some dodgy places!) can really pay off.
The key ingredient
Good photography is a lot like cooking, to get the tastiest of results you need all of the right ingredients. I’ve talked before about how, just like in cooking, planning and preparation are crucial. Understanding the art of photography takes a lifetime to learn, chefs don’t get Michelin Stars for knocking together beans on toast and photographers don’t get work by simply snapping whatever is in front of them. It takes effort to get the really special shots, the car has to be prepped, the lighting must be just right and the icing on the cake for a perfect shot? You guessed it…
Motoring Photography Locations
This isn’t as simple as it sounds. You can’t simply drive up a street, snap away and expect to get the kind of shot that should adorn glossy car-mags the world over. The first thing that I do, is ignore the location (yes, you read right!) and just look at the car. I don’t mean spend hours studying every detail, I mean look at what the car is about. Is it a hot-hatch, a family saloon, a sleek GT, a bulky 4×4? What is the cars deal? In the case of the Volvo XC60 – we knew it would proudly sit in the driveways of the cool modern-dad. So we took a different approach.
Sometimes, choosing the opposite location to where you would expect to find a car works wonders. How many Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s do you really see driving around deserted warehouses or in front of sprawling industrial landscapes? Though this kind of juxtaposition really grabs our attention. This was certainly the case with the XC60 – a grimy, urban location surrounded by graffiti, barbed wire fences and the faint whiff of crime was probably not where Volvo envisaged the XC60s would make their homes (though it would make a good get-away car!).
Freezing the action
Heading out at 6.00am on a frozen Saturday morning to take pictures of a car isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but I must admit, I like it. We decided to show the XC60 some familiar territory and took advantage of the frosty road, heading out into the countryside in search of fun roads. We generally like to have an idea of where we are heading but the crucial thing to do is ‘always keep your eyes open’ – if you see a great location, use it! We stumbled across a motorway bridge that was suitably quiet, and set about taking advantage of the early morning light and set up for some long-exposures.
The location was perfect, either side of the bridge was beautiful winding roads to take advantage of and the early morning frost made it feel (if you really use your imagination!) a little bit Scandinavian. All-in-all, the location was great for the XC60.
Ask and you shall receive
Later that morning, the sun started to show it’s face. The changing light always has an affect on the location, finding contrasting light and shadows can create great effects. We drove for 15 minutes or so before finding a Church that looked stunning in the low winter sun. It’s a spot that Paul was aware of, and it really suited the car. The frost on the roof of the Church and the frozen ground worked fantastically well with the big white Volvo, and the hazy sun lit the car perfectly.
Moving on, we found a more rural environment, the kind of place that the Volvo really looked at home. Using the straight lines of the building accented the shape and its high profile. After grabbing all the shots we needed, it was time to head home, not before using the soft morning light and the outstretched road to show what the car is all about, getting out on the road and exploring!
Look on the bright side
To round up. If you want to get great shots of a car, think about the location, does the car fit in? We had a great time shooting the Volvo and feel the locations worked fantastically with the car. From an Urban explorer, to a sub-zero suburban cruiser, the car fitted right in. Lighting, composition, technical skill, these are all worthless without a great location!
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions. Don’t forget to check out my and follow me on for more of my adventures.