Introduction to Car Yard Photography

Commercial Car Yard Photography requires speed, precision and attention to detail like no other photographic discipline. Romantics might argue that holding a camera designates the photographer an air of an artist and maybe, if you had a whole week to take photos of a single car I would agree. But time is money, and time, along with light and physical space will always form part of your biggest challenges. 

In short, your camera is not some extension of your creative personality, it is a tool. As a photographer you use your skills and knowledge of the subject and like with every other photographic discipline that involves ongoing work, your creativity will manifest itself in the way you adapt to different scenarios, of which, in the used car industry, there are many.

Less than 20% of customers that set foot on any of the car yards are repeat customers, people off the street (walk-ins) or business derived from word-of-mouth marketing. The other 80+ % of customers are derived from online representations. The photos and the professionalism they display is the first impression people get. The role of creating and maintaining a company’s online catalog portfolio isn’t important – it is vital.

Guidelines: Car Yard Photography

These rules are not intended to curb your creativity. These rules are meant to stop any thoughtless, non-critical photography and patent laziness.

  • This is about selling cars. From the style of photos you take, the time it takes you to photograph and edit, to the interaction with staff and customers – it revolves around selling cars.
  • Consistency is Everything. It doesn’t matter what height you choose to take a photo from or what angle you deem correct – if you choose a style, you stick to it.
  • Put as much distance between yourself and the car as possible. It flattens the car, making it easier to ‘level’ as well as slightly obscuring small blemishes on the bodywork. It also minimizes the ground upon which the car is standing (which is rarely if ever attractive)
  • You don’t EVER walk around a car taking photos – leave that to lazy car salesmen and amateur photographers. You move the car for every shot. Simply put – you retain a stagnant and neutral background.
  • Every individual image you present must have a purpose. For example: Some dealers / photographers present an image with a car’s doors open. Is this to show that the car’s doors actually open, or is it to show the interior detailing of the gadgets on/in the door? If the latter be the truth then rather make more effort capturing the details of the gadgets / buttons.