How to Guide

How to Take the Perfect Car Photo

4 min read

Knowing how to take great photos of your car can be an excellent skill to have. Not only will it vastly improve your chances of selling your car when you need to, but a car can be an excellent prop when taking holiday snaps. It can be the focal point or just off-centre, but either way it will give your photos something more interesting than the standard selfie or landscape shot.

The first thing to remember is that taking a high-quality car photo is not as simple as point and click. It takes some planning and understanding of basic composition. Cars have a lot of angles and these reflect light in different ways, if you get the wrong angle you could end up with excessive light or shading. You also need to take note of other subjects in the shot and set everything up, so the balance is perfect, but also to appear natural.

Start with a Clean Vehicle

Regardless of what the photo is for, having a good clean car is the best way to start, unless of course having the car dirty is the point of the photo – such as when the car is specifically used for off road adventures.

Source a Good Location

Find a good and empty area to serve as the background for your photo. If you need inspiration, have a look through some car magazines. Avoid areas that will have a lot of other cars or people. Some examples of great locations are:

  1. Drive to Lookouts
  2. Beach Scenes
  3. Abandoned Building Lots
  4. Large Empty Car Parks

Try to find an area that is interesting but where your car is the absolute star.


Experiment with taking photos from a variety of angle. You may find that a close up along the car gives the photos depth and makes it more interesting. Having the car parked in different positions while at the location can alter the composition. Move the car around to see which way looks best.

For the best photos you may need to return to the spot multiple times, depending on the light you want and the availability of the location.

Mind the Lights!

Even the best camera in the world can’t make a dull photo brighter. It needs help, and this is usually in the form of a light source. For car photos specifically, the sun is your enemy. It reflects off the metal surface and creates glare.

The best time to take a photo of your car is early morning or near dusk. Try to shoot the car with the sun behind you, as this will light the car instead of making it appear in the shadow. Light from this angle with make the colours pop!

Be Familiar with Your Camera Settings

Most digital cameras and phones are capable of taking good photos. However, when you understand the settings and how to apply them to your situation, you can take these good photos and make them excellent.

Have the camera set to take the highest resolution possible. This is especially if you are going to print the photos, as it is much easier to reduce a large file than it is to increase a smaller one.

Another perfect time for photos is cloudy overcast day, even light rain can be okay, as long as the sky is not too dark. A cloudy sky will bring out the colours of the car and can give the finish a mirror like appearance.

If you have no other option than to shoot your car in full sun, force your camera to use the flash. This will help in balancing the light source for the photo and can reduces glare.

Taking Photos to Sell a Car

If the photo is for a vehicle you are selling, then there are a few other requirements you should stick to. Remove any stickers and give the inside a good and thorough clean out. Replace any missing lights, as it can be good to have a near night shot in the mix, so people get a good sense of what they are buying.

Mix it Up – Glamour and Real

People like to be able to trust you, and if your listing a car you need to show the real thing and not appear to be hiding flaws. Shoot the car from every angle – for example if you show, front, back, and driver’s side, people assume the car has damage down the passenger’s side.

Include some shots of the car at its absolute best but mix these in with a few regular shots. People will appreciate seeing what the car looks like on its best day and its ‘worst’.

Take Heaps of Photos

Even though you may be limited to how many photos you can include on an add, you still want to take as many photos as you can, and this is for two main reasons:

  1. It gives you the option to choose the best from a batch rather than settling on something that is acceptable. Giving yourself choice is key to getting the most out of your photos and the best price for your car.
  2. People will often contact you and ask for more photos. Having these on hand will make you seem like a good person that has nothing to hide and in turn will make you appear more trustworthy.

Just remember a good photo takes a second, but a great photo takes time planning and patience.

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