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How to Take Pictures of the Cars at Auto Shows

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2015 Cadillac CTS Sedan - Chicago Auto Show

Every year, a handful of our automotive writing staff makes a trip to the Windy City for the Chicago Auto Show. But along the way, we’ve noticed one thing in particular: taking photos of cars at auto shows is a pain in the butt.

Staff members at auto shows are constantly running around buffing the cars, making sure they are as reflective and shiny as possible. That, plus the terrible fluorescent lighting, and you’ll find that your photographs don’t always come out the way you’d expect. To help you combat the odds stacked against you, we’ve put together a few key tips to help you take great photos at the next auto show.

Frame your shots

Auto shows are hectic; there are people running around left and right, and everyone will crowd around the vehicle you’re trying to take pictures of. While it’s easy to crop photos later, and perfectly acceptable, it can often cut down on the quality of your photo. Take your time with each picture to frame it properly from the get-go.


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Pay attention to your settings

Fluorescent lights are a pain to shoot under, so shoot on manual and adjust your settings accordingly. A polarizer can help with the excess reflection on the vehicle’s paint, as well.

Wear dark clothes

Of course, with extremely shiny and reflective vehicles, the last thing you want is your own reflection in the photo. Try to wear darker tones to reduce your appearance in the reflections.

Utilize Photoshop

Don’t be afraid to Photoshop other attendees out of the background. While it’s better to get the original photo without people standing in the background, it’s sometimes necessary to touch up the photo with some editing.

Be mindful of your lenses

There’s no such thing as a universal camera lens. Each lens is crafted for a different purpose, so keep those in mind when you’re shooting. Fish-eye lenses are great for full-vehicle shots, but you mind want to switch to a standard wide angle lens for interior pictures.

Find new angles

Everyone is going to take the same full-vehicle shot of every car at the show. Use your imagination and find a unique angle. Don’t be afraid to take close-ups, interior shots, and use some of the vehicle’s features to your advantage. Get creative.


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Sources: Photofocus, PictureCorrect, Speedhunters