Automotive Photography: Learn to Photograph Cars | James Morelan | Skillshare

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Automotive Photography: Learn to Photograph Cars

teacher avatar James Morelan, Hello, I'm James.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Equipment Used

    • 3. Finding a Location

    • 4. Taking Exterior Photos

    • 5. Taking Interior Photos

    • 6. Tips for Photography

    • 7. The End

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About This Class


In this class, I will teach you the basics of automotive photography. After two years of photography cars, I have had experience in many different environments. Not only did I work at a dealership taking standard inventory photos but I also worked as a freelancer photographing cars. 

Meet Your Teacher

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James Morelan

Hello, I'm James.


Hello, I'm James! I'm a photographer and a seller on multiple platforms! Check out my Instagram @jamesmorelan

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1. Intro: Hi, I'm James Morelan. Welcome to my skill Skillshare class about automotive photography. If you own or work in dealership, you probably understand the importance of having a good car photo. Nowadays, more customers are going online instead of in-person to find their new car. And having a high quality car photo can make the difference between a customer and some of that decides to shop somewhere else. Over the past two years, I've been working with cars, both freelancing as well as working at a dealership, taking inventory photos. I've learned a lot of techniques that I'll be sharing with you in this class. During this class, I will go through the basics of taking amazing card photos, showing you all the angles that you need to take car photos thinks to focus on, and a lot of basic tips that I've picked up throughout the years. If you've ever taken any my previous sculpture classes, you know that I tend to put a lot of high-quality information in a relatively short lesson. Feel free to pause, rewind, or restart any of the lessons. And I really encourage taking notes. If you go into our class discussion page, you'll be able to find a downloadable PDF and you can follow on with during the course. And I'll give you even more helpful information. And it's a great thing to fall along with. I hope you guys enjoy the next couple of lessons and I can't wait to be your teacher. Have a good one. 2. Equipment Used: Hi, welcome back to our class. Thank you so much for choosing this and I can't wait to teach you everything you need to know about car photography. In this lesson, we'll be talking about the equipment that you need to get started with. They can car photos, one of the biggest mistakes a lot of photographers tend to make when they're getting started is by buying too much equipment that they won't end up using. Personally, I made this mistake in the past and I've definitely learned from it. It is not economical and not practical to get started with too much equipment, then you won't end up using. I'll be sharing with you a generalist of equipment that I use almost every single time I take car photos. I understand that there are a lot of different people watching this lesson. Whether you are already working in a dealership, in an already photos. If you want to become a freelancer or you want to start this as a new gig, or to step up your photography game in general, I know that a lot of people are starting at different places. So take my list is a grain of salt and chai, adapting it to your own life. And once you get started with taking car photos that you'll learn so much into get better and learn your own technique. So starting off the list and the first thing that you will need is a camera. I mostly shoe with my Sony a 73. And this camera is amazing and I've taken so many great high-quality photos, but I actually started with my Sony 85 thousand, and that is the camera we will be using for this course. If you do not have access to a camera, feel free to use your smart phone. Any smartphone made in the past three years, most likely has up-to-date cameras and great software for editing photos. You do not need to go out to the store and buy a camera. Just to do this, you can honestly just start with your cell phone and get good at using that. My second recommendation is buying a detailing brush. Most of the time we were shooting cars a should already be cleaned and spotless, although that's not always the case. When you're taking photos, you'll most likely noticed dust on the steering wheel, on the grills or any other small part. And this can be very annoying and very tedious when you're working in Photoshop. I always prefer to make sure that the subject looks good before having to do post-processing. Not only does it save a lot of time, but also makes the image look our original next piece of equipment that I recommend is using a wide lens where you're doing interior shots of cars is very important that you capture the entire vehicle and the entire surroundings. Wide lenses are very great, but can't be costly depending on the type of camera you have. If you do not have an interchangeable lens, feel free to just use your regular camera. Just make sure you backup enough while you're taking the photos. So then you cover the interior. We'll be talking about this in a future lesson. Another necessary thing is having an open space or garage that you can take your photos. And I personally like to go out to parking lots in my area and take photos there. But when you have access to a garage like this one, you can definitely make this work with taking car photos. One of the most important thing with taking car photos is consistency. If you choose a location, makes sure that you only shoot at that location or else if you go to your dealership website, the photos can look weird if they're shot in different locations. The next thing to have as a tripod, some photographers prefer to only use a tripod while others decide to go handheld. Personally, I go handheld because I'm used to it, but if you want to get super stable and super consistent shots, feel free to use a tripod. Another important thing to have is Adobe Lightroom. It helps you to edit your photos and make half decent looking photos into amazing, beautiful photos. You not only can't erase or spot punish any of the images, but if you're also changing the color and the look of the photos, I highly recommend this app and after a couple of months you use, you can get really good at it and almost mastery. The last thing I'd also recommend using a polarizing filter. What that does is help block out some of the light while you're taking photos and is very important on having colored cars when you're shooting white or silver cars. It is not as important, but it does help. And we'll talk about this in a future lesson. And the next lesson we will be talking about location to shoot at. 3. Finding a Location: Hi, welcome back. In this lesson, we will be talking about finding the right location to shoot your photos that I personally had a lot of experience with this because the dealership I worked at had a very small lot and we ended up having to find a separate location to shoot photos at. I wouldn't be teaching you the important things to focus on taking these photos. Now first thing you decide if you're shooting in a garage which is an enclosed location, or shooting outside or there had been a parking lot or your car dealership lot? Most of my photos were taken outside. But if you have access to a garage and you have controlled lighting, that might be better for you. Not only do you not have to worry about the weather, you can also control the lighting and other aspects of the photos early and we're shooting in a garage, but later on in this course, we'll be shooting out in the parking lot. If you choose to shooting a parking lot, there's a couple of things that you need to focus on. The first is your accessibility. If the lies on by someone else, you probably should get permission from them. But if it's a public parking lot, that can be a great location to shoot at. You wanna make sure that there are no major shadows. They get casted onto the car. So if a building is in front of the Sun and cast onto the car, says something you want to avoid. Another thing you should focus on is the time of day that you're shooting. Many photographers like to shoot at 234. That is a good time because the sun is starting to come down and it's not directly above, like it usually is at noon. Personally, I prefer to shoot on his slightly overcast day when they're clouds in the sky. That helps diffuse the light and also helps make the car look good. Just make sure you watch out and you're shooting into direct light because it can overexposed the car and that's something hard to work with, enlightenment. And one key thing that you always want to focus on while you're taking these photos is consistency. Making sure that all the photos on your page or the exact same in the exact same location is vital to having a good website and a good impression on your customer. What I was working on that they always wanted the first color photo to be taken in front of the dealership. So you'd take that photo, move the CARTO separate lot, take the remaining photos, and then also take the interior photos. This was something we did with all the cars. So when the customer is scrolling on the website, they'd see the dealership in the background on every single photon. This can be different depending on your situation, but overall, you should always focus on consistency. Location mostly matters when you're taking your exterior photos. Your interior photos do not matter as much because the customer has mainly focusing on the inside of your car. And the next lesson we will actually begin to shoot and I'll share with you the angles that you need to take for the car photo, as well as some other tips. I'll see you in the next one. 4. Taking Exterior Photos: Hi, welcome back. In this lesson, we will finally go out and start taking photos. For our example, we'll be shooting with this Volkswagen beside. This is a mid-sized Sedan and great starting vehicle for taking photos. There are many features in this car that would be able to sharing and take photos of. And currently it is overall clean. Before you take photos, you should get them washed or detail the dealership I worked out how to process the first day after they require the car, it would get service the next day it would be detailed and then I would finally take photos of it. Depending on your dealership, this can change, but your car should be clean. I also do not recommend ever taking photos of a car after it's rained because not only is the ground wet, which most likely won't be in your other photos. But the car balls have droplets and those are super hard to get rid of in Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom for the camera, I'm using the Sony a 5 thousand. Not only am I using a relatively basic camera on, also using the kit lens that comes with the camera. This entire package can be bought for about $300. And his super economical integrate starting setup, all the photos I'll be taking r from this camera. Alright, so now that that's all done, let's finally go out and start shooting on location. I'm currently filming in a parking lot that is pretty secluded and I won't be interrupted by anyone or any other car. One thing I always do before I take any photo is walk around the car to make sure that the card is clean and there are no new scratches or any other defects on the car that might show up in camera. This is also very important if you're responsible for the car, is to make sure that there is no damage to the car. The first photo I always like to take is the head on photo and that's where I tried to get eye level with the car to get a good profile of it and make sure I get a good angle. You want to make sure your camera is in focus and the lighting is perfect. Personally, as a photographer, I like to take multiple photos instead of just taking one or two shots. This mixture backups just in case anything goes wrong. So after I get the front profile, I like to get a side angle from the right and left side. This is great at showing depth of the car, especially if it's longer sized car. And right after I get the right side, I make sure to get the left and the exact same angle. Then I walk around to the rear of the car and this way I get the tail lights as well as the back lights. I also tried to make sure that the customer can see the reverse camera as another feature. I also like to get the backside angles from the right and left side as well. Once I get that, I also like to take a full side portrait of the car. Suddenly customer can see what that looks like. I didn't like to take some detailed shots of the headlights, the grill, the employment things on a car. Some Bueller ships might not want to use these photos, but I'd like to have them as backups just because some cars have beautiful details that need to be shared once that is done. And I also like to go around and pick all the doors on the car, whether it's a coupe of Sudan, an SUV or truck. Just to take a front portrait photo of the car with all the doors open. This helps the customer know what the car looks like and what they can expect. Once you get all those photos, you also need to take a photo of the rims of the car. Some cars have fancier rooms, some have other ones. And I tried to take the photos. Wheels, they tend to look the best and tend to have less GFS or marks. After that, I make sure to turn my wheel so that I can take a photo of the grip on the type. This is good at showing the customer how much and where is on the tires and if they should expect to have to buy new tires. Once I get those all outside photos, I like to reposition the car and take my front on photo. This is one of the most important photos and the photos that we like to use as the cover photo on the dealerships website. One thing I always like to do is cock the tire status angles so that it adds more depth to the car photo. It's also a good idea to make sure the headlights are off just in case there's flashing while you're taking the photos and that is it for the exterior photos. So to go over that again, head on photo that covers the front of the car. You want to get this from two angles. One low, eye level 11 higher up one side of the profile the car is taken. You'll also want to take a photo of the right and left side, front on photos so that you show what the car looks like from the side when you're looking forward. You'll also want to take a photo of the back of the car so that you showed the tail lights and all the other details. Once you're done with that, you'll take to side photos from the back. And once you're done with that, you'll also want to take a side profile photos so that you show what the entire body of the car looks like. You'll also want to take your tire photos and the rim photos and then the main angle photo. And those are the main ones that you need to focus on. Again, there are specialty ones then you can take like the emblem or in the headlights. And those things I appreciate in some dealerships will appreciate that, but other people might not want to use those and their listings. Now that we're done with that, let's go on to our anterior photos. 6. Tips for Photography: Hi, welcome back. In this lesson, we'll be going through some of the basic tips that you should probably learn if you're gonna be taking photos of cars. My first piece of advice is using a polarizing filter. This is probably one of the greatest things when you're taking photos of colored cars, what it does is it helps blackout reflecting light and a lot of light gets reflected off of different colored cars as well as the windshield and also the headlights. And using this helps so much. I'm gonna show you a quick example of what it does and how you should use it. Okay, so this is a quick example of what a polarizing filter dies. This is the polarizing filter. And once we put it on, you can kind of see if you focus on the windshield and headlights, what it does to the color and when it does for the reflection. So let me zoom in onto the windshield. So as you can see, we are in our garage and it is reflecting light from the ceiling. So once I put the polarizing filter and I twist it, you can see that the reflection is disappeared. This is amazing when you're taking photos of colored cars, but since this is a silver car, it does not help as much. If you're focused on the hood where there is some reflection. You can see it disappear with a filter. So if you think that looks amazing on this car, you have to see what it looks like on a colored car. It can honestly change it so much. And these things are great. This is a relatively big investment depending on the style that you go for it because you want to get quality when it comes to filters. Another thing that I want to tell you is to make sure that you take your time while you're taking photos. I know it seems really easy that you can rush your photo shoots, but when you're getting started, just make sure you take your time and get good at your craft. Eventually you'll be able to take multiple photos and our, But I really recommend for the first couple of weeks that you're taking photos to take your time, make sure you get all the detailed shots, make sure the cameras focus. Your exposure is correct. The car isn't the right angles and in the right lighting, if you take your time and master this craft, you'll be able to speed it up in the future and it's something to work toward and focus on another tip that I would like to give you. And this works for multiple styles on photography, is making sure that you get low to your subject. Many people like to stand up, take photos from a high point, but when you take photos that are eye level or a little lower, it adds so much perspective to your photos and makes the Carlos a lot more luxurious and a lot better. So getting low or to eye level with your car is a great thing. You can use this on multiple different angles and multiple different types. But overall, you should try keeping that in mind. Another tip that I liked photographers is by using a tripod for me and I'm more mobile and I'd like to walk around the car very fast. I don't really need a tripod, but if you want to take your time and get the same angles perfectly, you might want to use a tripod for some higher end cars that I want to make sure that everything is 100%. I might use a tripod, but overall my hand-held shots tend to be very good. Some cameras have a gyro sensor built-in That shows you if your camera is level or not. C should use that. You can also edit it a post-production to make your angles perfect and the photo lineup, another tip that I've mentioned is using in detail brush. Mostly cars have already been detailed. But when you're working there and there's a couple of spots, it is so much easier to just wipe them away very quickly then having to edit it out in Photoshop, I've spent hours before I had this having to remove the little dust spots that I miss when I was taking photos. So having a dust brush is amazing. My last tip is for you to make your own style of photography. I've showed you the basic setups that you need to take for your car photos and the basic angles. But over time, you may develop your own characteristics like your own style photo, whether it be like the doors open on one side, the windows down, a higher point of view, a lower point of view. Photography is very creative. And if you try finding your own style of photos that can be very rewarding for you in a dealership will definitely appreciate it. I hope these tips helped you. 7. The End: Hi, welcome back. This is the last lesson of the course, and I just want to thank you so much for participating and joining the class. I hope you learn a lot of information and if you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to send me a message either out here or on my Instagram at James Marlin. If you wanna check out my photography Instagram where I post a lot of my photos. Follow me on at change dot Borland on Instagram and I'll be sharing with you some of my example work. I know this class went over dealership photography, but there's other types of photos that you can take of cars. Here are some photos I took on location with different types of cars. I hope you enjoyed those. If you want to see more of those, checkout Instagram and also send me a message and I can check your own work. I hope this helped you feel free to read a review of this class. I love to hear your feedback. Haven't Good one.