It’s car show season here in the Midwest and I’m off to my first one of the season this weekend. It’s been a while since I’ve wandered around and taken images at a car show, so I went back to look over this article and expand on it a bit.
Talk to the car owners
This is the number one thing to do to get more information about the car you are shooting. Get the back story, help tell that story with your images and include photos of the owner. They are proud of their cars and will talk your ear off about them. They love when you are interested and will offer to open up the hood, lower the hood and do what you may want or need to get a better image.
During this time take a photo of the sign if there is one. Most car shows issue a sign with the year, make and model written on it. Shoot this first, shoot the car and shoot the sign again, it will make it so much easier to identify the car once you get back to editing. It’s also good to offer them your information, let them know where you might be posting the images later so they can see what you’ve done.
Watch your backgrounds and reflections
Car shows come with a lot of people wandering around. Be patient when you’re shooting, wait for someone to finish looking and walk by so they’re not in your shot. Move around to get the background that works best for the area of the car you are shooting. Watch the reflections. All that chrome means tons of reflections, watch what you’re seeing in the hubcaps and bumpers and move, wait or use the reflections as part of the art.
An easy way to eliminate the people and other distractions in your car show images is to get close. Shoot the details. Awesome cars have equally awesome details. Think of the gear shifters, analog radio buttons, hood ornaments, car lock buttons, emblems and logos. Take images of the lines of the fenders, hood and along the side of the car. Get creative, make abstract car art from your shots.
One thing to keep in mind as you’re getting close though is to make sure your gear, bag, camera straps and tripods are not bumping up against the car. Do not ever set your camera on a car and always be aware of your proximity to the car. The last thing you want to do is make the car owner mad.
Don’t forget to put the camera down and wander, relax and enjoy yourself. How you’re feeling is reflected in your images. If it’s crazy hot and I’m not enjoying wandering around in the heat, I take crap images because I just don’t want to be there. As with any photography you’re doing, take care of yourself first, hydrate, eat, and get a sense of the overall atmosphere.
Take some wide shots of the rows of cars, the food vendors and the other people who are attending the show. Think about what images you can create that will convey how you felt at that moment. Most of all, have fun. Always have fun.