NAIAS Auto Show Shooting Tips

January 06, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I have had the honor of shooting NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) for a local website, the oakland press, jalopnik, and dupont registry during the media preview days the last 3 years. Along the way I have learned a couple things. In this series I am to answer questions that are commonly asked regarding shooting the show.

Q. What are your favorite lens to use on these shots?

A. Ok so let's talk focal lengths.  I usually keep an wide angle on one camera and a telephoto on another camera so that I can get a number of different looks, perspectives, and angles and to keep the album from getting boring. Shooting ultrawide allows you to get close enough to the car to keep random people from getting in your shot. On public days this is especially important.

The images below are shot with a telephoto (85mm), and an ultrawide lens. I am happiest with the shot from the 85 prime, but getting this shot without anyone in the way took a lot of patience. Good thing, a good friend was nearby to talk to while I waited for an opportunity to get the car at the right rotation and with no one in the frame. With the ultrawide I just walked up as close to the car as possible and framed the shot. There is simply no space between myself and the display, so noone gets in the way. Problem with wide angle is that it is too easy for lens distortion to damage a shot.

85 Prime Ultrawide

Q. Where are you placing your focus point for full car pictures?
A. There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to portrait photography that says you should focus on the eye nearest to the camera. When I am shooting a car, I take the headlamps to be the eyes, and apply the rule. I also like to have the front grill and emblem in focus, so this often means making sure I have enough depth of field.

Q. How many photos do you usually include in an album

A. Album composition is very important in my opinion. Nobody wants to see every decent shot you took. For a large show like NAIAS, do everyone a favor and pick your top 50, max. If you only have 20 which truly standout, only share those 20. IMO it is more impressive to upload 10 really well done photos than 200 decent-good photos. When looking at a portfolio, clients aren't going to sit there and go through 200 photos. Pick out your best ones, and share those. If you'd like include a link to the full album. Furthermore, 20 great shots will get diluted within an album of 200 photos. Also, Mix up your angles types of photos. Even if you limit your album to 50 photos, if they are all front isometric shots, it gets pretty boring after awhile.  Mix it up!


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