Real photographer, Eric Haines, making real magic with Dave Bautista’s real hot rod.

We rail against the scourge of bad photography in our niche of underground car culture fairly fucking often around here. One of the things we’ve got no shortage of opinions on. And really, the only thing we can seem to blame it on is the do-it-yourself approach that makes hotrodders sort of unique mixed with the cheap, instant world of digital cameras. But when it comes to photography, it’s equal parts art and science, Jack. And if you don’t know how to manipulate light and you’re just replacing cheap beer with a camera as a crutch to talk to fat chicks, well, you ain’t a photographer.

So, as our latest shoot was getting long in the tooth last Saturday, it dawned on us that maybe we should share a few basics with all the hacks out there stinkin’ up the interwebs and magazine racks with shitty imagery. Y’know, make a public service announcement out of it…

1. Car Shows Suck
Don’t shoot at a car show, unless you’re just documenting that, in fact, a certain car show actually existed on a certain date at a certain place. Almost impossible to make good composition and the fat guy in the lion-tamers and the Air Jesus sandals with the Goodguys tee and the fanny pack and the Diet Pepsi is always gonna be walking into your shot. Get your car and its owner to agree to leave the fairgrounds and go somewhere else to shoot just his car. He’ll be more than stoked that you’re interested.

2. Do Not Attempt The Pinup
Judging only by what we’ve seen, you’ve got zero good taste when it comes to women, fashion and the way those two relate to each other or a car. You’ve also got some warped sense of classic pinup photography. So, do us all a favor and resist the urge to ask some chick who’s got no business in front of a camera to pose for you–a guy who clearly has no business being behind one–at the car show. And see #1.

3. Shoot in Golden Hour
High Noon is the worst time to shoot a car and/or a girl outdoors (unless you really know what you’re doing and we already assuming that’s not the case, here). There are two periods of the day considered what real photographers call “Golden Hour;” Dawn and Dusk. Those are the periods of the day when light is the best and the most glorious. Shooting roughly within two hours of either of those times of the day will make everything you do, better. Just trust us on this. And say shit like “Golden Hour” when you’re talking to the car’s owner–you’ll impress everybody. And see #1 and #2.

4. The Heroic Shot
Ever see pictures of classic super heroes? See how they’re always positioned as if you’re down low and they’re looming over and above you? See how neat that is? That’s called the “hero shot.” When you’re shooting a car, try it: get down low and shoot up at the car from different angles. You’ll have to mess with it, but what do you care? You’ve got a fancy digital camera from Costco and film is free! Keep practicing. And remember #1, #2 and #3.

5. Lots Of Sky
You’ve got your camera. It’s getting close to dusk. You’ve successfully resisted the overwhelming urge to ask the chick with the shitty neckbombs to pose for you. You’ve impressed everyone with phrases like “heroic shot.” Now, add in another crafty bit of craftiness: raise your lens and get a few shots with lots of sky above or around that car. KaPOW–you’re now an artist. And don’t forget #1, #2, #3 and #4.

OK, that’s a start. But even remembering all this does not a photographer make. It’s a few steps in the right direction, though and it’s enough to curb the blight of craptastic photos that we can’t seem to get away from. Look, not everyone is a photographer, but we have enough respect for those who actually are to pass along these few secrets. Now, go get ‘em, Tiger–car show season is here…

4 Responses to “ANATOMY OF A SHOOT”

  1. Mark Kalan says:

    Good advice. Especially #s 2, 3, 4 & 5. As far as shooting at car shows: shoot close ups!
    (and be sure to follow rule #s 2, 3, 4 & 5!)

  2. Scruggs off the Route Photography says:

    Around here so many times you pass on some tips to help people get the better shot. They look at you like your stupid or to your face say I can do better. These are same basic things I tell people. Oh one thing I would add when shooting, Take it slow and make make your shot count.

  3. loveoftiki says:

    Quit talking shit and put out issue #2 for piss sake !!!! ha-ha

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