Mistakes to avoid in Automobile & Motorcycle Photography

There are two problems to overcome to shoot cars and motorcycles perfectly.

First, they are BIG products. This means setting, lighting and even transportation are a challenge to think about and work out with precision.

Second, cars and motorcycles have large reflective surfaces including plenty of chrome that reflects and reveals almost everything, especially shoddy lighting techniques. Chrome is like a reverse mirror clearly revealing studio contents or inexperience.

Two things you will never see from an experienced professional photographer’s work: bad reflections, including the photographer himself, and “hot-spots” or modeling light highlights. Learning to control reflections on shiny objects is the key to successful big metal product photography. They are a true test of studio or location experience. Studio success relies on custom-made flash heads in over-head light boxes. Massive “Silks” and “flying flats” are also a must. Our studio has a 40” cyc wall which is vital for large product photography, whereas a sure way to spot an amateur is “background paper” in use. On location, large silks still are prominent but you must adapt to use the environmental reflections to your advantage,


About Dave Hawkins

Dave Hawkins was raised in Southern California, an incredibly competitive commercial photography environment. Dave was the staff photographer for the California Angels, a photographer for CYCLE Magazine, CBS and Ziff/Davis Publishing, Associate Editor, staff photographer.

He opened his first commercial studio in Los Angeles on Sunset Blvd. He later moved to Nashville to become a VP Associate Creative Director for a automotive/motorcycle specialized ad agency.