Automotive Photography: Shooting Custom Cars
Custom cars, or more accurately vehicles that have had custom modifications, are becoming more and more popular. People are wanting cars with specific styles, features, and modifications that don’t usually come standard. This can include custom sound systems, custom rims, or even custom bodies for a vehicle. Owners of the custom vehicles are starting to come on par with sports car owners in regards of pride in their vehicle. This opens up opportunities to photographers similar to that of sports car owners as well.
Custom car photography share many aspects with sports car photography, but also has a higher range of versatility. This is because of the shear range of modifications that can be done to a car and the degree into which the modifications have been done. You may encounter a vehicle that only has minor modifications such as sound systems, rims, or engine, or one that is fully modified such as a vehicle with a custom body kit. It is good to understand what the client values the most in their custom vehicle as that will be one of the primary focuses of your photo shoot. Simultaneously, it is good to know what they would like you to avoid.
Focus on the unique aspects of the vehicle
What make custom vehicles interesting is not simply the type of vehicle they are but rather the unique modifications done to it. Identify and focus on these modifications, while still capturing the majority of the vehicle. For example if a car has its main interest in special rims, bring your main focus on the rims, letting the car blur out as it fades to the back. Make sure you don’t put focus on only a single aspect of the vehicle, however.
Determine what is the best angle to shoot from
Unlike sports cars there are many ideas that can be the central theme when dealing with custom vehicles. Typically the theme you should shoot for will be relative to the custom modifications of the car your shooting. Cars that are mostly custom engines will typically follow the same theme and shooting style of sports cars. Vehicles that have an emphasis on the body of the vehicle typically benefit from mid-range high and low angles in a circle around the vehicle to ensure that the entirety is captured.
Capture individual and overall elements
You should focus on individual custom elements when shooting custom vehicles, but you should make sure you don’t neglect the entire vehicle in the process. This means you should divide your shoot into two sections, one focusing on custom elements and one focusing on how the elements are integrated into the entire vehicle. For example, if you are shooting a car with a custom carbon fiber hood you should make sure to take shots that emphasize the hood, such as head on at near hood level, but also shots that encompass how the car’s hood fits into the entirety of the vehicle, such as a high angle downward shot capturing the entire car.