Remember “NOEL” To Photograph Your Car
Example of author using “NOEL” to capture his ’98 Boxster near Mt. Rushmore with his iPhone 6S.

Searching the internet trying to find great collectible cars to share on reveals one truth: many people do not know how to take pictures of their antique, classic, vintage, or muscle cars. The technology of smart phones, iPads, etc. provide consumers photographs professionals could only dream about just a few years ago. However, technology can only do so much to compensate for improper scene or lighting choices.  For this post we want to help the majority of antique, classic, vintage, or muscle car owners who want photograph their collector vehicle with their smartphone.

The four simple rules we follow spell, “NOEL”:

Natural – if you’re trying to feature your car in a photo, use a natural background rather than a house or building. Potential buyers want to imagine themselves having fun exploring in their newly-purchased collector car, so sellers need to place their car in a scene which helps buyers dream that. While “Natural” often goes hand-in-hand with “Outdoors”, photographing a track day car in a paddock is great example of an indoor “Natural” shot.

Outdoorsonly the best photographers can capture the inner beauty of a collector car in an indoor scene, so don’t even think about trying to mimic that with your smart phone in your home’s garage. Unless you’re trying to sell a non-running barn find, place your vintage car outside. If your collector car is registered and in running order, find a nature-based back-drop to use. A nearby park or roadside clearing can often provide a neutral backdrop to feature your collectible car in.

Early – the best light for photographing your collector car is early in the morning as the sun rises. If you wait too long, the light of the sun washes out the details of your collector car in the shot and often will make a great paint job appear dull. While this is easy for early birds like ourselves, If the idea of getting up before dawn is daunting, wait until the “golden hour” of the evening when the sun is softer.  In either case, it’s the hour before the sunrise is full, or the hour before the sundown is complete.

Low – never take a picture of your collector car standing up!  Get down on the ground to get a great picture at the same level as the car. Doing this make the car appear larger and often conveys a sense of motion, especially when taken from the back three-quarter view.

Try following our “NOEL” rule to photograph your collector car and we think you’ll discover you’re a better photographer than you ever thought you could be!

Please post your comments on how “NOEL” worked for you.