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Automotive Photography

This group is for those companies that photograph vehicles for dealerships to use in their marketing efforts, whether it be online or traditional media. This is also for companies that distribute inventory and photos to 3rd parties for web posting.

Members: 47
Latest ADM Activity: May 20, 2016

Better Web Photos

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Well. Here we are in 2010 already. Happy New Year to all of you. I can feel the positive energy now that the debacle year of 2009 is over. Time to start fresh and show everyone what we are made of.

Today I am going to give away some of my secrets about how to display your vehicles online. OK, maybe they're not secrets, but I really want my dealers to shine when they list their cars on the internet. This is some of my thought process.

When you were a child and your mom told you to pick out a book at the library, what kind of book caught your eye? Did it have a lot of big colorful pictures? If you answered "no" to that, then you have been a geek much longer then you think, not that there's anything wrong with that. I was definitely more interested in the pictures than the words. I didn't really start getting into reading for fun until I was 43. (by the way, I am 42)

We are no different now than we were then, when it comes to shopping. Pictures are paramount to catching our attention. I think you see where I am going with this.

Lets take a few minutes and shop our own website. Better yet, let's shop Auto Trader or or.......[enter your preferred website here]

Customers see the pictures FIRST. They may have some idea of what they are looking for and search for specific vehicles, or they may not have any idea and search for certain types of vehicles. What will make you stand out in the crowd? Your pictures.

Here are a few pointers for your vehicle photos.

When it comes to your website, consistency is important. All your first pics or "main photos" should be the same. A front quarter shot is what I recommend. Some people like to start on the passenger side because the car points to the right, which is where the vehicle info is most of the time. I like to start on the driver's side because that is the first thing the driver sees when he/she walks up to his/her car. Either way, you want the car look inviting. Pull it out of its parking space and point it directly at the sun. This way, this car is the focus of this picture. It is OK to have other cars in the background. You would be surprised how many people see another car in the background and go searching for it specifically. Also, by pointing the car at the sun, you get even lighting down both sides of the car and prevent yourself from casting your shadow on it. You can turn the wheel one rotation away from you for a little extra pizzazz. Make sure your camera is at about the same distance from the ground as the side view mirror. For proportion, if you have room, step back a bit and zoom in on the car. This prevents that "fish eye" effect. Make sure the car is centered in the frame from top to bottom and side to side. Keep the camera level with the ground. Don't tilt it. That effect is great for magazines photo shoots, but customer's don't like to have to tilt their heads to look at their computer screens.

Not like this

Like this!

From there you can be creative or do the same shots for every car with the exception of those couple shots reserved for "unique to that vehicle" equipment. Keep in mind, being creative will cost you more time and can get sloppy if you are not disciplined with your camera. The pressure of someone calling you away will have a definite impact on the quality of work you put out. My advice? Do the same pics for every car. You will get into a rhythm after a few cars and the work will go much faster.

Here are links to a couple of cars we have done for a dealer that I think are pretty good. Are they perfect? Probably not. But are they better than their competitors? I think so.
Lexus Coupe
Lexus Sedan

Feel free to "copy" the way we do pictures for our dealers. That goes for lot service companies as well as the dealership doing it themselves. We can ALL benefit from doing it right.

If you would like more help to get this part of your process right, let me know. I can help you.

Happy New Year!

Automotive Marketing Discussion Forum

OT - Canon NFL photo contest, I have been selected

Started by Robert DeForge. Last reply by Tiny Malone Dec 27, 2008. 1 Reply

How do I take better Car Pictures?

Started by Tiny Malone. Last reply by Chris Hanson Dec 22, 2008. 68 Replies

Vehicle Videos vs. 360 Spins

Started by Michael Benavides. Last reply by Michael S. Seymour Oct 31, 2008. 3 Replies

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Comment by Paul Husing on January 5, 2010 at 4:38pm
Best part of this pic - Taken on a dealership lot!

Comment by Scott Cuzzo on August 7, 2009 at 3:38pm
New to this group, looking to expand my network and share ideas. As a premier visual asset producer, our success is dependent upon driving business for our clients. Would like to get feed back on our new redesigned web site
Comment by John Cisar on January 23, 2009 at 6:33am
Hey folks,
Do manufacturers offer exterior paint color swatches on their vehicles which can be used in Photoshop? If I can get my hands on these swatches, or their RGB color value equivalent, I will create a library of color swatches to be used as filters when optimizing and correcting vehicle images for use on our website. I have defined a process for image color correction and optimization and the vehicle photos are coming out looking good. It does take time (20 minutes per set of eight). Color matching without these is trickier and would take longer however.
I process the images of our pre-owned vehicle inventory. We have a person who takes the pictures of our inventory. Granted, we work to accommodate his schedule as he is very reliable, unlike the college student who used to take our vehicle pictures but never showed up. Given that Vermont has a seasonal New England climate, its 80% cloud coverage makes conditions less-than optimal for photo-taking. And since vehicle color and contrast perceived is completely subject to the amount of light in the environment and the type of light source, many of our pictures tend to come out dull. My cost-effective workaround is applying color filters to the vehicle image using Photoshop CS3. The filters get applied the vehicle in the photo and correct the vehicle’s exterior color back to a color most representative to that of the vehicle under direct sun light conditions. Any suggestions?
Comment by Tiny Malone on December 20, 2008 at 12:29pm
@ Robert ~ We will pray for you! hahahha

Actually I was a Canon guy for a long time and still have a few Canon cameras.
Comment by Robert DeForge on December 20, 2008 at 11:52am
You guys keep talking about that Nikon stuff, is like me understanding Spanish :) Canon guy here :)
Comment by Tiny Malone on December 20, 2008 at 11:33am
@ Andy ~ Thanks for the comments on the Truck pics.

Those where shot with a D300 and a Fuji S5 Pro. Don't worry about haivng $3,000 sunk into equipment. I probably have 35 X's that much in equipment and it does not make me a better photographer.

Speaking to your summation, I would say the D300 is a clearly better camera than the D80/90 just due to it's metering, etc. The main thing I would say is pick a system (Canon, Nikon, etc.) and stick with it. The key is to buy good glass. If you are a Nikon guy, buy the Nikon glass with the gold stripe around the barrel of the lens. Buy Nikon Mound Sigma glass that is of EX grade or buy Tokin glass. If you are a Canon shooter, "L" glass is very good!

As for the truck shots, yes there are a few adjustment layers and some white balance modification. The Alfa is almost all camera except for a slight curves adjustment and the stupid frame.

BTW, it looks like the dash shot you captured is a bit more than 2 feet away. Tell ya a good lens to get for interior work...the Sigma 10-20mm!!
Comment by Andy Shambarger on December 19, 2008 at 1:12pm
Wow, I wish I had paid attention and had seen this blog before. I am by no means a pro but I love taking good shots.

Not considering the point and shoot small cameras, there are really two types (in my experience) to consider. Those that work with your inventory provider homenet for example that upload your vehicle info with photos or big boy cameras.

I may be a little over the top, but I use two cameras, Nikon D50 and D300. I have an everyday comes with the 28:80 lense on the 50 and a wide angle macro 18:24 on the 300. I placed the pic of the dash board because that in with the 18:24 from 2ft away. End to end dash board with excellant clarity. Good Glass Makes the Difference!!!!

I have over 3000 invested in one camera. Like I said. Over the top. Not necessary. I play a lot. If I were to choose again, just for the lot I would look at either a Nikon D80 or D90, or a Canon. There available everywhere. Parts are plenty. Used lenses are less expensive because there are so many and a load of other reasons. The chip is a nice touch but not necessary for the novice and you can buy a D80 or D90 that will do almost as much as the $1700 D300 for less than half the price.

Whom ever shot the Truck. I love you. That's Hot. Photoshop?

I am always looking for ideas. Anyone using a booth?

Hope you get more and ppl start writing.

Comment by Andy Shambarger on December 19, 2008 at 1:01pm

Comment by Andy Shambarger on December 19, 2008 at 12:58pm

Comment by Andy Shambarger on December 19, 2008 at 12:57pm


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