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DIY Car Photoshoot: How to Get the Best Shots of Your Ride

Closeup of a car door lock

Whether you’re starting an Instagram account or just sharing photos with friends, capturing your car in an image as you see it is important. Luckily, today’s smartphones have technology that takes impressive high-quality photos, so all you really need is a phone and an understanding of how to make a vehicle look its best to do your own car photoshoot.

A Trick of the Light

The first major thing to think about is lighting. And assuming your car is parked outside, this means time of day. Dawn and dusk are best, when the sun’s angle is at its lowest, and the light is the most dim. This makes colors stand out better, and makes shadows easier to manage. Take the time to scout the area ahead of time, so you don’t find yourself driving around at sunset looking for the perfect spot before nightfall.

If parked indoors, make sure the lighting is illuminating the car uniformly, as opposed to shining bright on one spot. Either way, watch out for shadows and reflections that distract from the vehicle’s curves.

When choosing a background, opt for something that compliments the car’s color and isn’t too distracting. If you want to showcase the car, you’ll want something that makes it stand out. If you’re going for more of an artsy shot or have a different vision in mind, experiment with different backgrounds with city lights or graffiti. However, these can go awry quickly, so maybe keep those for your personal collection until you get some more practice in.

What’s Your Angle Here? DIY Car Photoshoot

It’s important to have an overall idea of the photo’s “feel” you want to create. It’s a lot to keep in mind, but it helps inform quick decisions in composition. One helpful photography trick is the rule of thirds, and it’s pretty easy: In your mind, divide the whole picture’s frame into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Now, adjust the frame so the intended subject is placed at one of those third point marks (as opposed to the exact middle).

Other tips? Avoid obvious shots, such as those at eye level — the view someone walking by would see. Shoot for the ones that are more interesting: close up, low down, interior details, etc.

Quality AND Quantity

Make sure your ride is ready. Get it nice and clean, paying special attention to anything you want to highlight in your pictures.

And don’t be afraid to take a lot of pictures. You’ve got nothing to lose but time, and you can always delete what you don’t like later. Plus, the more practice you get, the better. It allows you to go back and look at what works and what doesn’t.

Lastly, make sure you’re familiar with your phone and the app you intend to use to edit and publish your photos. Setting up and taking good pictures is important, but the editing process can really push you into professional territory.

Check out all the cleaning products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on a DIY car photoshoot, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.

Blair Lampe View All

Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter.  In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.

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