"Classic Car shoot" help please!

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Captain IK

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Dec 5, 2008
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Windsor, ON. Canada
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The good news is I just landed a nice assignment shooting at a Classic Car show.

Th bad news is I haven't done much car photography and am looking for a little advise:

Most of the shots (150-200 cars) will be done outdoors as the cars arrive, but many additional shots will be taken inside the facility.

1. I assume a focal length of around 100mm on a D90 will work well. I realize much of this depends on my distance from the car, but am looking for a general consensus here.
2. The event planner wants me to be able to take a shot of each car as it enters the grounds and have the prints available for purchase by the end of the show.
I've never had to deal with getting prints done so quickly. Do I buy a printer and print them myself on site (pretty much as I shoot)? or do I make arrangements with a nearby lab to print them as I email the files and then pick them up a few hours later (is this realistic?)

The lens question is pretty much an opinion as each situation will vary, but as for the printing issue for this event....I could use some input please.
If this event goes well, it is likely I will be shooting a motorcycle show a few weeks later.

Please provide your thoughts

I'll be out of my office for a couple of hours, so if I don't respond quickly, please carry on without me...
I will be sure to follow up when I return.
Pick out your location carefully for shooting the cars as they arrive. No one will buy a $40 print of their car if it's just shot from a front 3/4 view... they could do that themselves. (And since it's a car show, they likely already have!) You'll want something distinct.... something exclusive in the background, perhaps a banner of the car show?

Ideally, how I would see this going down is that you would have a computer and monitor available on which the potential clients could view their photos beforehand, so that you're not making 200 prints and selling 30. (That'd be a lot of wasted prints. Lots wasted ink if you're printing on-site). I don't think it'd be too big a hassle to have a printer with you to make the prints (if you're going to have the computer there anyhow to let them view the shots anyhow) Or, depending on the length of the show (timewise), you may be able to 1) take the shots, 2) let the owners view them during the show and take orders and then 3) go to a local photo place and have the prints made up. If you arrange it ahead of time, I don't see why they couldn't make up 50 prints within an hour or so. If I can get an 8x10 out of the kiosk at Walgreens in a minute or 2, I don't see how that'd be a problem. (Speaking of Walgreens, those kiosks make pretty good prints).

How many prints does the promoter think will sell? How long is the show? What size(s) of prints will you need to print.
Thanks for your input...
Last year they had 150 cars and sold 100 4x6 prints at $10.00 ea. I have seen a few of them and they are lousy. I am very confident that I can do much better.
This year they expect closer to 200 cars.
As for print size I was thinking 8x10 at $25.00, but am interested to hear what others might charge.
I like the idea of having the laptop there, perhaps with a large LCD monitor attached for customer viewing. AT 8x10 I want to print only what I sell.
Wow, take 200 pictures, post process them, and sell prints all during one car show, your going to be busy. :)

You could upload the pictures and give each car owner a business card with the link. You can get possible print sales after the fact this way, assuming the event organizer doesnt have a problem with that.
Sounds like a lot of work. ƒocal length is the lest of your worries. Are you able to provide retail quality prints on demand? If you do not already have your own printer then that may be a problem. The actual photography could be easy. Best bet is to stage the car in a shadow area and blast the subject with an off camera flash. The logistics of this plan may be a little tricky. You may have to make your own shade, which is not too hard depending on the position of the sun. Other option is to set up the tripod with a good (not busy) background and expose with just enough depth field to blur the background, but have the car in focus. Next step is figuring out how you will organize and name the shots. Trust me. This is really hard. Spill some more details and we can help further. Also keep in mind that this is at least a 2 man operation.

Love & Bass
Some good points guys.
As for the shoot layout, I've pretty much got that covered. I will have 2 helpers so that should be covered.
As for the actual shots...there will be very little (if any) post processing with the shots they get that day. I don't do much PP anyhow, but recognize that some will be necessary to optimize the shots. This will be set up as a production line with me spending only a minute or so with each car. We expect about 5 hours of shooting. AT the end of the event pictures are to be ready for pick up.
SO I see the day going something like this:
Hour 1 - setup "shooting area" (I have already scoped out the site and have a backup plan in case of rain)
Hour 2 - Cars start to arrive and are paraded through the photo shoot area
Hour 3 - Continue to shoot while assistant #2 starts to print ( I will shoot tethered to my laptop for instant downloading.)
Hours 4,5,6 continue process
Hours 7,8 - finalize prints and distribute
Hour 9 - wrap things up, pack up
Hour 10...find a place that serves cold beer!

Does that kinda make any sense?
I will have my camera on a tripod and the cars will roll up to a predefined spot. I'll use a zoom lens so that minor focal adjustments can be made without moving.
My first thought is reflections. Whatever is in front of, above and behind the car will likely be visable in the cars, including any and all light sources.

I've done just one car shoot, and found it to be a challenge. I was indoors and on location. I remember hanging a lot of seamless paper and hitting it with strobes.

When you finish this one, be sure to share some shots here.

I wish you the best of luck.

There seems to be a post missing here. I got an email with some guy posting 2 links, one to a picture that did sell well, and another of a picture that didnt sell well.

Anywase, I was just wondering what sort of prints you usually sell to car people. Do they ever buy anything larger than 8x10? Do they even buy an 8x10? Im guessing they dont display large pictures in their house of their car.

Also, does anyone have any links to galleries of great car pictures? Ive been googling for a while and havent found anything exciting.

I may have a couple car portraits coming up, and Im looking into angles and perspectives. : ) Theres a great picture in the newest issue of rangefinder of a steeringwheel.
Sorry that was me with the links. I reconsidered the type of work he is doing compared to mine and it just didn't apply to the thread as well as I had initially thought so I deleted the post. I'm no automotive photographer, I just got roped into doing it for a friend who was working for a show. Besides, I realized the one that sold well was of a Rolls Royce. People with those cars tend to spend money so it might not have been the shot at all.
Your pricing seems reasonable, that is what they usually charge at shows when I attend them.
I just skimmed through the posts fairly quickly, but one thing I haven't seen mentioned yet (unless I missed it).... Use a polarizer. Whether shooting outdoors or indoors with bright light, a polarizer cuts quite a bit of reflection / glare, and can really "wake up" a nice paint job.
I'm currently helping plan a classic car show. We are having a photographer come in. The one we have specializes in car shows - he actually pays us a fee for every car he photographs.

We are providing him with a spot 40 feet by 25 feet, the 40 feet is the length he needs to park his truck and trailer, the 25 feet is the depth he needs to shoot. He covers the side of the trailer in a green screen then sets his camera up 20 or so feet away. Every car coming into the show follows a route that takes them between the camera and the trailer, the cars will be instructed to stop so he can take his photographs.

His trailer contains all his equipment, computers and printers. During the day he will sell photographs and other items of peoples cars. He will sell basic prints, posters, t-shirts, mouse pads, cups and a whole bunch of other stuff, he allows you to pick the background you want, beach scene, landscape, city, etc. and your car will be placed on that background and printed.

It's a win-win situation, he gives our car club some money for his spot on the field, he than makes money from everything he sells.

I know this is way more than you will be doing but it may give you some ideas.
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