Car Photography: 5 Tips all Car Dealers need to know

Published on
Oct 2, 2023
Written by
Lara-Alina Plieschnig

Taking a photo of your car seems easy, yet if you want to photograph cars in order to put them up for sale, the pictures should meet certain standards to appeal to customers. Besides, due to various websites promoting private online car sales and an infinite number of images of vehicles online, competition is high. Standing out among all the other photos requires a certain know-how concerning photography. Therefore, it is important to keep the following aspects in mind when depicturing your cars:

- Put your car into focus

- Consider the lighting conditions

- Avoid reflections

- Capture different angles

- Think of shooting locations

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01 | Put your car into focus

Disturbing Background vs. Focus on the Car

Naturally, the first thing to consider when photographing is your point of interest: the car. It should be in optimal condition. Before taking pictures, a thorough cleansing from the inside and the outside is essential. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you can always take up the offer of car detailers to perform this service for you.

If, however, you clean the car yourself, there are a few things bear in mind. Firstly, the car should be as polished and spotless as possible. For this purpose, you can use certain products such as a special car shampoo in order to clean the car thoroughly. To enhance the shiny effect after rinsing the car with water, a microfiber cloth can be put to use to polish it. It is important to not forget any parts of the car when cleaning it- so make sure to also consider spots such as the wheel rims. Furthermore, you should also determine whether new tires should be installed. Here, summer/aluminum rims (if available) are usually less susceptible to rust.

Also, personal items and stickers should be removed from the inside and outside of the vehicle. Make sure that no adhesive traces of stickers remain, so that they do not disrupt the overall appearance of the car.

02 | Consider the Lighting Conditions


After optimizing the appearance of your vehicle, the second step is to choose the best time in the day to photograph a car. Most people tend to take photos in the middle of the day, thinking that lots of light automatically adds to good pictures. While the concept seems reasonable, the middle of the day is– apart from the middle of the night– the worst moment to take photos of cars, especially for advertising. This is mainly because midday lighting can be very harsh and unfavorable. In addition, direct sunlight can further lead to irritating sun reflections.

The best chance you have at getting a good picture is a few minutes to two hours before or after sunrise or sunset. With a cloudless sky as a prerequisite, the light should then be soft and flattering. Also, unfortunate shadows caused by direct sunlight can be prevented.



03 | Avoid Reflections

Following up our prior tip, it is of great importance to avoid reflections and mirroring. As already mentioned, sun reflections can be prevented by choosing the appropriate time to take a picture. However, not only the sunlight can influence the car’s reflection, but also its surroundings. Due to its shiny surface, a vehicle reflects its environment like a mirror, especially when it is freshly cleaned.

Be careful that as little as possible of the surrounding area is visible in the reflection of the car. Firstly, the positioning of the photographer is important. They should position themselves in such a way that they cannot be seen in any part of the car body or side window.

Secondly, it helps to park the car in a rather calm environment with little disturbing factors in the background. The quieter the environment, the fewer reflections occur, and you are also more unrestricted to choose the camera angle. If you don't have the opportunity to pick a peaceful environment, you can take pictures from a low angle. By doing so, instead of mirroring its surroundings, the sky is reflected in the car’s body and mirrors.



04 | Capture Different Angles

Speaking of angles, let’s talk about the importance of taking multiple photos from different perspectives. The most important view when photographing a car for advertising purposes is an overview shot showing the entire car. This works best if you take a photo from the front left of the car. To ensure that the most important angles are visible on the pictures, take photos from the following perspectives:

- Three-quarter view from the front

- Side view
- Rear view
- Three-quarter view from behind

- Front view
- Rim view

- Interior view

If you want to facilitate this time-consuming process – booking additional facilities, reparking the car, editing the pictures– check out the CarCutter App!

05 | Think of Shooting Locations

Shooting Locations by Use Case

Lastly, you should think about your shooting location. It is beneficial to have some kind of background, so it can interact with the car when taking photographs for advertising purposes. This allows potential customers to visualize the vehicle better. However, since there are various types of cars– some suited for the city, others for off-road routes– you should think about the background that compliments the car best. Nevertheless, keep in mind that none of these backgrounds should draw too much focus. After all, it's about the car.

So, if there is the possibility to choose from a variety of locations, it should be chosen considering the function and the terrain for which the car was built. For instance, an expensive car can be photographed well in front of a castle, a jeep in a forest and an SUV off-road.

However, if you don’t have the opportunity to choose between different locations, just download the CarCutter App and pick out your favorite scene and receive your finished images within seconds!