How to Make Your Car Photography Look Like This

Car photography is a sharp learning curve, with the incline coming primarily in post-production. A tutorial like this can save you incredible amounts of time learning techniques.

I am a complete petrol-head. When I got in to photography for the first time, it was because of a car forum I was a part of. I was convinced in my early days of owning a 350D and a kit lens that my equipment was the reason my car photos were bland; it wasn't. The editing phase of car photography, particularly in the last 5 years or so, has become crucial and somewhat revolutionary to the final product.

One photographer who seems to perfectly walk the line between render and photography with automotive imagery is Damian Plisko. Feast your eyes on some of his work:

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AMG GT S

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His editing style might be a little heavy on some of his images for the tastes of many — I'm even on the fence myself with a couple of the dramatic changes — but his more subtle edits like the image of the Chiron in this tutorial, lead to spectacular and believable results. In this video, Damian Plisko guests on Moe Zainal's channel and walks you through how he transforms a flat and basic image of an incredible car, and turns it in to a wall-worthy piece of art.

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16 Comments

Alex Armitage's picture

So who's got a Bugatti I can practice on?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Oh, definitely. Just let us know where to ship our brand spankin' new Bugatti Civic Type R.

Robert Nurse's picture

I walked into Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini dealerships, met with a manager and told them what I was doing. They were all cooperative. The Ferrari guys said they get photographers all the time! Porsche guys even offered me coffee! If you live near a Bugatti dealership, just ask.

Alex Armitage's picture

I don't even live near a BMW dealership :( lol

Matthijs Bettman's picture

Don't be sad about that... If you're ever in the Netherlands Alex Armitage, let me know. I'll take you to a dealership which have all kind of 200k + cars. Maybe they are nice to us :-)

Alex Armitage's picture

I was just there! Darnit...

Matthijs Bettman's picture

Even more reason to come back ;-)

John MacLean's picture

Disclaimer - This is going to make me sound as old as dinosaur dust, but out in Los Angeles back in the 80s I assisted for Boulevard Photographic and one of their lead guys that went solo and formed Seventh Wave Photographic. They had in-camera techniques both in studio and on location that made incredible 8x10 chromes without any digital post. I haven't watched this video yet, and I appreciate what modern technology can do, but knowing how those guys worked was a sight to see. They were light years ahead of other commercial shooters. He used to say if you can shoot sheet metal, you can shoot anything. He was absolutely right.

Felix Wu's picture

Getting everything all in camera is definitely fun and challenging but requires huge budget that not everybody has access to.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Hey John, Was that when they had a place in LA? I worked at Boulevard in Detroit for a summer. I remember they called 120 film "small format" LoL.
I guess that it's good that a very marginal shot can become usable.

Rifki Syahputra's picture

yeah it's good

David Pavlich's picture

Makes me appreciate being a landscape shooter. :-) I really need to work on my PS skills.

Too many of these look like drawings and illustrations, not photographs.
The old 8x10 shooting chromes with control of lighting, shadows and reflection on location were much better. Newer is not always better.

David Pavlich's picture

I agree that a couple of the shots are a bit overdone, but this may be what the client wanted. I've done a couple of tone mapped shots of cars for customers that most would consider gawdy, but it's what they wanted. Not wrong, just different.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Shooting cars with 8x10 meant that you'd get about 2 shots per day, sometimes .3 shots per day, if you add in approval times.
Car advertising began with paintings and illustrations. One of the best was Charlie Schridde an illustrator > art director > photographer when there was cubic dollars being made in that business.

The funny thing is after 25-35 years of film we are back to illustrations. CGI is more than half of the car ads and commercials these days

Roman Lavrov's picture

)))) looks good