Professional Car Photography – 3/4 Front View

Power up your car photography by learning from a pro.

This is the first in a series of tutorials in which Karl shoots a Mercedes AMG GT sports car, introducing the fundamentals of  car photography and showing you how to capture the classic three-quarter angle.

In this step-by-step class, you’ll discover the equipment, lighting and styling behind the gorgeous final shot. You’ll see every stage of the shoot, including how Karl tests different focal lengths and angle of views to get the best composition, what lighting techniques he uses to minimise reflections, how he combines continuous light with flash, and how he achieves an elegant gradient lighting over the bodywork of the car.

Covering important considerations, outlining common problems, and demonstrating how to overcome them, this in-depth class will equip you with the knowledge you need to shoot professional car images.

In this class:

  • How to photograph cars
  • How to choose the best angle of view for shooting
  • Lens choice comparisons and results
  • Lighting techniques for controlling gradients in reflective surfaces
  • How to combine continuous lighting and flash for car photography
  • How to use a polarising filter for car photography

Also part of this series is our Professional Car Photography – Front View, Professional Car Photography – Side View, and Professional Car Photography – Top View classes. For further car photography classes, please take a look at our automotive photography section.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.

One of the first stages of this shoot was actually the most important — determining the composition. Once the composition was decided, there would be no going back.

Lens choice and angle of view were the two important considerations for this shoot. Both can have a big impact on the final image as they can change the apparent shape of the car as well as the feel of the shot.

Testing composition for car photography

Determining the best focal length and angle of view for the shot.

For this shoot, we tested a couple of different lens choices. In this case, a shorter focal length allowed for greater shooting space but didn’t reveal enough of the car while a longer focal length compressed the car too much and made it difficult to shoot at such a distance.

Lens comparison for car photography

A comparison of the 100mm and 150mm lens for car photography.

The angle of view was a second consideration. Higher angles showed more of the bonnet, but less of the body, while lower angles created a more imposing feel, but didn’t really work for the shot.

These might seem like minor considerations, but it’s worth taking the time to determine these because once you start work on the lighting they can’t be changed (unless you start again on the lighting too).

Three-quarter view photo of a Mercedes AMG GT sports car

The final three-quarter view of a Mercedes AMG GT sports car.


  1. hrachess

    Great tutorial, Karl. Incredible work with all those lights revealing the car’s form.. My only question/concern here is about that dark curved shady part which starts from about half of the driver’s door window and the same direction on the roof, and goes toward backside of the car. You can notice that pretty strong light and shadow difference.. it almost has a feeling that part of the windows are painted way more black lol) hope I was able to describe which part I mean (no place here to attach a screenshot), so is there a way to avoid that? if not completely but at least make it little more gradient and softer? Please advise. Thanks.

  2. On a scale from 1 to heart attack how much of a panic was it when Ash started to reverse the car ? 😂 stunning out come as always

  3. Hello Mr. Taylor

    Morrow here from Austin Texas. I am SO excited from this photo-shoot! I have a client as we speak that owns one of these AMG GTR’S and it’s the same color. My client is transforming his AMG into a race car and had it wrapped to support Mission 22 here in United States. Thank you sir!

    1. Thank you and there are some other shoots on this AMG in this section. My favourite was the front view, the top view was the most difficult and the side view was a good challenge too.

  4. Hector2683

    Hi Karl. Awesome tutorial. Can you please include where we can get the items you normally use in your shoots. Things as trivial as those big white Boards, for a beginner, are sometimes impossible to find.
    It would be beyond informative if you could include that kind of information in the videos.


    1. Hi Hector, thanks and sure. We do put equipment lists on all course pages but haven’t done so on live shows so we will try and find time to do that. The big white boards are ‘foamboard’ it’s very light weight and quite rigid. All good sign service companies or art suppliers should be able to get you those. We also use ‘polyboards’ in studios which are about 5cm thick 8ft x 4ft white polystyrene boards. Those used to be available from builders merchants as they were used for floor and wall insulation.

  5. Hi Karl, great video as always.

    I’m looking forward to watching the front view and side view videos, when will they be available?

  6. Great video. I now see the incentive to become a full-time professional photographer… you can skip the gym and hire two girls to do your 100 squats for you!

  7. DougHowell

    Hi Karl, it’s your number one fanboy here, Doug Howell. I have a complaint; You have photographed two cars, (with the new suspended reflector panel), both of them German marquees.
    Me, as an Anglo file and American auto aficionado is asking, could you do a British car next time, or even an American automobile? While German cars are renowned the world over, they really don’t hold a candle to British and American cars, in my opinion. I mean, has there ever been a car that has more impact on design of automobiles than the Jaguar XKE?
    Wonderful and informative show!

    1. Hi Doug, good point – I’m hoping to get an Aston Martin in the studio in the future although I think Mercedes own a share of them! Jaguar Landrover are now a subsidiary of Indian Tata motors, although the new ‘Defender’ looks good and the guy next door has just got one so I might borrow it. There are some really nice looking American cars but unfortunately you don’t see many in the UK. A vintage Ford GT40 would be nice too.

      1. Hi Karl, if you would have the new Aston Martin Vantage in your studio, practically you would photograph this Mercedes twice, because in many parts below the body it’s the same, but nevertheless it would be a great option. It would be great to see a Lotus Exige or Evora. Corvette or an old GT40 sounds great too!
        What I found a bit weird on this Mercedes and confused me from the beginning is the license plate 917. Maybe the owner should consider to change the car brand with this number sequence….
        Talking about this show, great as always! What about an interior shot of a car like this? Quite tricky to light I think, because of limited space in the car!

        1. Hi Oliver, thank you. I’d love to get some of those vehicles in and I plan to get a few more unusual ones in soon. I’m guessing the owner of this car had 917 on a different vehicle in the past but then kept the number when he sold that car? Yes interiors are very difficult, I have heard of manufacturers leaving the roof of some cars for photographers to light them more easily!

  8. Excellent Job. You Never use White Gaff Tape to hold your white panel boards in place on the set. Too Sticky and too messy to clean up, or it slows you down in the process if you have to adjust? The black line that you took out of the Logo on the front Mercedes star in Post was from the bottom of the white Panel on wheels, I thought a White Gaff tape making a mini cyclorama might have cured that.

    1. Hi, yes white tape can help but it doesn’t often result in a perfect reflection in the car and as you say is messy to clean and can ruin your boards so if I feel it will be a relatively easy fix in post then I’m happy to leave it.

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