In the world of car sales, the key to success is commercial automotive photography. Why? Because brand representation is where the idea of purchasing a car begins. With proper marketing, you can encourage potential customers to engage with you and plant the seed of interest to purchase your product and services.
One of the most important elements in automotive marketing is to sell a certain lifestyle through your vehicles. You have to tell a story through your images and set the scene for your consumers so that they can dream of a life with your brand.
In this article, we’re going to be talking all about commercial car photography and how we at Stellar Studios successfully executed Toyota’s vision for their ads. But before we go into all of that, why don’t we first discuss what car photography is?
What is Commercial Car Photography?
Automotive photography is a genre of commercial product photography that’s specific to capturing the beauty of vehicles. It’s a specialized field that typically requires you to have knowledge of both photography and automotive design. The photography principles will let you carry out the theme of the shoot, while the knowledge of automotive design will give you an idea of which features to highlight in your images.
So, Why Are Commercial Car Photography Shoots Important?
As mentioned earlier, the primary objective of commercial car photography is to take pictures that can be used to advertise your brand. The photographs you take can solely showcase the features of your vehicle and highlight its unique selling points, or you can also add models using your vehicles so that potential buyers can see how they’re used.
In the case of our shoot with Toyota, they wanted to showcase which cars are perfect for different types of lifestyles. Whether you’re a young adult buying your first car, a young business professional, or a small family, we wanted our images to show that Toyota has a variety of cars perfect for you.
Essential Elements to Keep in Mind During Commercial Car Photoshoots
Now that you know what commercial automotive photoshoots are and why they’re important, let’s talk about the different elements in car photoshoots that you should always keep in mind:
Like most photography projects, one of the most crucial elements is the lighting, as its interaction with the vehicle you’re using can drastically affect the final image.
Professionals usually spend a great amount of time and effort considering the time of day, the location of the shoot, and the weather conditions to create the perfect lighting setup.
Often, it’s preferred to use natural light to create a realistic and natural-looking picture. However, you may notice that natural light is dependent on the weather––which is unpredictable. Because of this, many photographers opt to use artificial lighting like studio lights or off-camera flashes to achieve their desired effect.
A great workaround you can use that both utilizes natural and artificial light is by shooting in indoor spaces that have a lot of windows. This way, you can still use natural light and position your artificial light in areas that need it more.
In our shoot with Toyota, we needed both indoor and outdoor shots. Fortunately, some of our pictures were taken in their showroom so we had a lot of access to natural light due to their floor-to-ceiling glass walls. We were also lucky enough to have good weather during our shoot day, so we were able to make most of the morning and afternoon sun.
When choosing the location for your photoshoot, you have to choose a space that will complement the theme of your shoot and the vehicle you’re using. A few common locations are:
- City streets
- Scenic routes
- Open fields
Of course, the location should fit the personality or the main function of the vehicle and the brand. For example, ads for four-wheel drive pick-up trucks are usually shot on muddy and uneven roads to showcase their rough terrain capabilities. On the other hand, luxury cars are best shot either in showrooms or being driven on long empty roads to showcase their swiftness.
From our shoot with Toyota, we wanted to showcase the experience of each customer as they go through the process of buying the car. Starting from initial inquiries about certain cars to the final stage of signing contracts to complete the purchase.
Given the theme that Toyota wanted, the final location we chose for the photoshoot is in their showroom. This is because the overall experience that you go through while deciding to purchase a car is always in the company’s location.
The key takeaway here is that before starting any photography photoshoots, you also have to think about what the brief is for the ads you will be creating. Carefully choose the location that best fits your brand’s concepts.
Another principle to keep in mind for commercial car photography shoots is the composition of the image––such as how the various elements are arranged within the frame of your shot.
A well-composed photo will create a sense of balance and harmony between the elements and draw your viewer’s attention to the vehicle being presented.
There are two popular techniques that professionals use to create compelling compositions.
- The Rule of Thirds: This is a popular style that divides the frame into thirds and places the subject on one of the intersecting lines.
- Leading Lines: This method uses the natural lines in the environment to draw the viewer’s eye toward the subject of the image.
So, if you’re unsure of what technique to use for your photoshoot, you can decide between these two popular approaches to get started with your project. And if you feel like you’re ready, you can also test out other forms of composition that may work for the theme you’re following.
From our shoot with Toyota, we mostly followed the Rule of Thirds while adding a few unconventional angles as per the brand’s request. Toyota wanted more edgy and unconventional photos that showcase both the cars and the expressions of the models in each scene.
In one of our photos, we used a personnel lift to take an aerial shot of a transaction between the sales agent and the customer. In this shot, you can clearly see the Toyota Wigo and the model’s happy expression as she converses with the agent.
In another shot, we followed the rule of thirds so that the viewer’s attention would focus on the model’s smiling expression as she tests out the features of the Toyota car.
When you’re done with the photoshoot, the final step you need to pay attention to is the post-processing stage of commercial automotive photography. In this stage, you will be editing the images to enhance their aesthetic and correct any imperfections they may have. This process includes:
- Color correction: This is used to adjust the colors in a photo to create a specific mood or to enhance the color hues if they seem dull in the raw photo.
In our shoot with Toyota, you may notice the color correction or color editing on the sweater that one of our models was using. In one photo, she was wearing a brown-toned sweater. However, in the next photo, the same sweater she was wearing was now in blue.
It’s only in the post-processing stage that you can make changes like this that don’t require any reshoots or wardrobe changes for the models.
- Contrast adjustment: This involves altering the brightness and darkness of the image to create a more dynamic and engaging photograph.
- Image retouching: This can be used to remove any imperfections like stray hair on the model’s face or scratches and dents from the vehicle.
It’s also in the post-processing stage where you can edit the background of the images to change their location without actually having to shoot in that specific location.
For example, in our Toyota shoot, all our images were shot by or in the showroom. However, one of our final edits had greenery in the background to showcase that the car was bought and was being driven around by its new owner.
The post-processing stage of any photoshoot will dictate the final quality of your photographs so make sure that you pay attention to this stage of the project. Also, keep in mind that the editing stage can only do so much to enhance your photos. You still have to make sure that the images you take are of high quality.
Toyota’s Success with Stellar Studios
Commercial car photography is vital in advertising your vehicle’s brand. Since cars are a big-ticket purchase, customers want to make sure that the vehicle they’re looking to buy appeals to them and their personality.
This is why it’s so important to understand the concepts of what makes a successful car photoshoot and why investing in it is necessary for you and your brand.
Here at Stellar Studios, we offer end-to-end photography services for our clients. With our team of passionate and experienced creatives, we can ensure that your photography and e-commerce needs are well taken care of.
You can check our portfolio on our website or get in touch with us today to learn more about our services!