car photography, where to start?


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Aug 13, 2013
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new york
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hi all im very new photography and am looking to take high quality car photos. I am a Professional detailer and am looking to document my passion, I just do not know where to start. If someone could point me in the right direction as far as camera set up and lenses and what not ( i currently have a nikon D80)
any input would be greatly appreciated!
High quality automotive photography can be HUGELY expensive - what's your budget? Lenses aren't such a big issue a UWA and 'normal' zoom will do what you need, but lighting is all important.
Never really thought about a budget. what am i looking at price wise for a "simple" set up. Sorry for the lack or knowledge i literally just received my camera this morning.
Okay, as with any new tool, it's going to take a while to master. You wouldn't expect to buy a table-saw today and start selling high-quality cabinets tomorrow, right? Same applies for photography. Get your camera, learn the basics, read the manual carefully, understand exposure and how light works, and most of all, how to control it. Start saving - I would say $1500 would be a good starting point (a basic set of lights, a couple of modifiers, wide lens, triggers, etc), and start practicing - there's a ton of 'How to' tutorials on YouTube, and then post results here for critique.
As far as taking photos to document your detailing, are you just wanting some hi res images of a finished product?

Or looking to do full shoots, rollers, rig shots, etc?
just hi res before and after photos. maybe some nice pictures from shows that cars i do attend. Thank you for the input im going to start small and build up as go along.
Your camera and a good lens will do just fine then.
No need to get a big budget for something simple like that.
Consistently being able to make professional quality images are more about photographer knowledge and skill than a specific camera or lens.
The main thing you'll need to be concerned about is lighting if you want professional quality images.

Cars have lots of reflective surfaces both inside and out.
Here is a place to start learning about photographic lighting - Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

There will be a big difference in lighting an entire car as opposed to lighting just part of a car, like the interior, or a wheel and tire.
The bigger an object is, the more lighting that is generally needed.

Car maker advertising images of car interiors are made in a photography studio using mockups.
Agree with what has been said so far, but you mentioned you are a pro car detailer.
I am no expert but, I would suggest you look at a macro lens to show of your work. As most of your work is in the details.
Most cars look good, clean from a distance, but you wont to show the scratches that have been removed from the paint, which can only be seen with a close up shots and lighting. ie: you wont see scratches in the paint till you put it outside in the sun.

From what I have read, most pro detailers use sun lamps and macro lenses to show off there work.
It could be as simple as a dolphin torch and extension tubes or a reversed lens, all the way up to studio rooms with multiple lighting and expensive lenses.
Try doing a search on YouTube, or check the photography section on detailing forums, there is a wealth of info out there.

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