How to prepare for an automobile photoshoot?
Featured image by Philippe Ferrant, Meero
Why is it important to have high-quality car photography in the first place?
“In the United States, Americans buy 39.4 million used cars each year, versus 17.3 million new ones (2018), and that used-vehicle sales will increase faster than new-vehicle sales over the next five years.”
Between the ever-increasing used-car market, the growing availability of shared mobility services like carsharing, and new online car sales marketplaces like CarGurus and AutoTrader, people just aren’t buying vehicles the way they used to. According to a recent McKinsey study, today’s buyers demand the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions. This includes: “the option to test-drive and inspect the vehicle and the ability to obtain multiple clear photos of it, along with detailed, factual data on elements such as service maintenance and accident history.”
So let’s take a look at how to best take pictures of your vehicles in order to sell your cars for as much as possible, and in the shortest time.
Today we’ll be talking about cars, but keep in mind that most everything on this list applies to any type of personal mobility: scooters, motorcycles, personal transportation devices... you name it.
Planning makes perfect
Define your needs
Before booking your photographer, it’s important to step back and really define what you need. Are you trying to sell specific cars on a lot, or are you trying to communicate the freedom that comes along with carsharing? Perhaps it is a combination of the two. It is tempting to try to get the hyper-stylized, motion blur photos that we have come to know and love in car commercials; but your dealership might benefit more from a lifestyle shoot, showing how friends and family use the car as a central piece of their together-time. We’ve broken it down into different shoot styles but we’re going to focus on the first two:
Listing Photos: automotive images where individuals can see the details of individual cars, including any scratches, stains, etc.
Lifestyle: photos you can use for your website or promote your dealership/car-sharing service that show people using the vehicles for their daily routines.
Brand: image the moving car photo where the background is blurry. This type of shot requires more preparation.
By defining your needs before you begin, you can save yourself the headache later on of having taken on too much.
Prepare your list
Once you’ve narrowed down the types of visuals you will need, you can start getting specific. Based on the type of shoot you decide, you’ll need to prepare your list of not-to-miss shots.
For sales, your going to need to make sure you cover the entire car from head to toe so that your potential buyers can get a real picture of the model in question. Have you ever clicked on a great photo of a product, only to find out that there are no other angles or views?
For used cars, you’ll definitely need to have detailed photos to show off every angle of the car. It may seem like overkill before you get started, but with digital cameras, it doesn’t take that much more effort, and it can provide potential customers the information they need to make informed decisions and avoid any surprises when they see the vehicle in real life.
The keywords for these photos are quantity and variety:
Wide Angle Front ¾
Front bumper, Back bumper
Profiles from both sides at eye level
Interior rear, Interior front
Odometer wide (see photo below)
Engine (pop the hood!)
Detail photos (Tires, seats, control panel, etc.)
Anything broken or dented to be sure to disclose any surprises
Evo Carshare in Vancouver is run by the BCAA and their principal competition when they launched was Car2Go. To stand out they provided bike racks on all of their vehicles. So naturally, in their lifestyle photos they took advantage of the bike rakes and shot photos of bikers in mountain biking gear. They took it a step further and took details photos like the one below that highlights the high MPH of the Toyota Prius (and shows a potential Evo user ready to go to the gym in work-out gear).
© Evo Car Share
Location, location, location
Regardless of the type of shoot, you are going to want to have the right backdrop for your photos.
If we look at Evo Car Share, you’ll notice that all of their car photos are shot within the city of Vancouver or in the forests or mountains, to really demonstrate that you can go anywhere and do anything with their cars.
Kia has done the same with their 2019 Forte, showing the vehicle in a city setting:
You’ll notice these photos don’t feature a basic parking lot, but they really set the dream scenario for driving these cars.
Time of day
To get the most out of your photoshoot, make sure you plan your photos during twilight or early morning when the lighting is the softest.
When booking photos with Meero, photographers know exactly how to take advantage of the right lighting to create a stunning image for your certified pre-owned vehicles. Rather than bothering with the complicated details of choosing the best shutter speed and angles, rely on the more than 60 thousand photographers available anywhere in the world. When selling cars at a dealership or marketing them online, you know you’ll get consistent and quality results, every time.
Cars should be detailed
Hiring a professional detailer for the interior and exterior may be expensive, but it has major return-on-investment potential. By getting your vehicles professionally cleaned inside and out is absolutely essential.
The other overlooked aspect of detailing a car is the engine. Imagine that you are buying a car and you pop the hood. Normally a used car will have soot and dust all over the engine, it’s to be expected. Now imagine checking out that same car, but when you pop the hood, the engine is spotless.