Automotive Photography: Shooting Cars and Their Owners
Automotive photography is not a particularly hard branch of photography, when you are dealing solely with the vehicles that is. I have covered quite a bit on how to shoot various vehicles and different ways to shoot them, but virtually all of those tricks and techniques become irrelevant once you add a person to the shot. Shooting a vehicle and the owner is not a new concept, nor is it a bad one, but it does require a new set of guidelines. A set of guidelines and techniques that allow you to emphasize the vehicle and the person’s best traits and qualities simultaneously. I doubt I will be able to fully cover this in a single post, so for this post I will focus more on preemptive setup.
When shooting vehicles and owners together you can run into quite a few problems. I will honestly say the people I have dealt with who wanted this type of photography done are some of the most confusing clients I’ve ever had. I nearly lost an entire shoot once because I had too much of the owner and not enough of the vehicle. This is the reason why there are a few things you should do before you even start shooting.
Know what your client wants
In many of my articles I have emphasized this point, that you should know what they want you to do. When dealing with this type of photography however, it is probably more imperative than ever to ensure you know what your client expects. For example, I was hired onto do a shoot of a man and his vehicle. The vehicle had a special paint job that made the car change colors depending on the amount of light on it. They wanted me to capture all three hues in the vehicles. If I had not asked them exactly what they wanted the shoot would have been a disaster, because of the vehicles paint job.
Learn what your client wants and does not want
Another point I have said a lot, this too applies to this form of photography even more than before. Like I have covered previously you should always learn of areas of the car that are “damaged” that you may not see yourself, but the owner notices. Additionally though you should learn of any particular way, style, or poses they want done. In my experience I have found that when shooting this photography the owner will usually have something specific they like. As the photographer you need to find out what that is and work with it. Sometimes it is specific places they like or poses.
Know the extent of what you can ask your model to do
This is a statement I usually only use when dealing with nude photography, but again when dealing with this type of photography it is imperative. As a photographer you are most likely going to be more interested in getting amazing photographs, so it is unlikely you would see any problem with placing your model on a vehicle. Some owners though will literally have a small heart attack at this idea. You need to learn the extent of what you can have the model do with the vehicle. Typically I have found, that if the model is a female placing them on the hood of the vehicle is usually ok, and makes for some great shots, but if the model is male you usually want to avoid anything more than a lean on the vehicle.