Professional Car Photography – Side view

The same lines, curves and shapes that make this Mercedes AMG GT so beautiful to sculpt with light also make it a very difficult subject to photograph.

In this class Karl demonstrates his preferred method for lighting and photographing the side view of this particular sports car.

Photographing from this angle is particularly challenging as any light from the front is guaranteed to reflect in the bodywork of the car. So, to overcome this problem, Karl chooses to use a combination of studio flash and LED continuous light.

You’ll not only see how Karl combines these two light sources (including the considerations for white balance), but also how he creates beautiful rim lighting over the top of the car using studio flash balanced with a subtle fill-in light using continuous light.

Additionally, this class covers how to create a black background for car photography (while still maintaining a white wall to use for additional lighting), how to rim light large subjects like this, how to control that rim lighting, and how to capture the light from the car headlights.

This information-packed class builds on the concepts covered in some of the earlier Mercedes shoots and provides some great lighting solutions if you don’t have many studio lights or simply prefer continuous light.

Class objectives:

  • Learn how to photograph cars
  • How to rim light a car
  • Creating black backgrounds for car photography
  • Balancing studio flash with continuous light for car photography
  • Light painting for car photography
  • Photographing car headlights
  • Problem-solving for studio photography

This shoot also includes a post-production class, which you can watch here.

Also part of this series is our Professional Car Photography – 3/4 Front View, Professional Car Photography – Front View, and Professional Car Photography – Top View classes. For further car photography classes, please take a look at our automotive photography section.

If you’d like to learn how to photograph cars but don’t have a large studio or overhead ceiling rig, take a look at our Classic car photography on location class.

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.

Light painting for car photography

Although light painting isn’t my preferred method for car photography, it definitely has its place and there were a few advantages to using it for this shot.

Using a long exposure and light painting allowed me to light the car with the front without any unwanted reflections in the glossy surface of the car. With the metal bodywork of cars, anything from light stands to power cables can become a problem, so being able to minimise the possibility of reflections is always a benefit.

Light painting car photography

The shapes and curves on the car made it challenging to light.

A further advantage to this method was that it only required a single light. Often car photography requires a few lights, usually shining into reflectors or walls, to achieve smooth even lighting, but the technique shown in this class used just one light instead.

Car photography using studio flash

Using studio flash often requires multiple lights in different positions.

Light painting car photography

Light painting allows for the use of one light to light large areas.

Finally, with the broncolor LED F160s, it’s possible to adjust the colour temperature, which makes it easy to adjust the white balance to match the studio flash. When combining different light sources white balance is always a concern. If they don’t match it can result in a post-production nightmare later.

As I mention in the video, it would have been possible to shoot this image using only continuous light, but do prefer the precise control I can get with studio flash. In the end, though, combining the different light sources turned out to be the best option and I was very pleased with the final result.

Car photography by Karl Taylor

The final side view of a Mercedes AMG GT.


  1. the black tissue on the floor is for eliminate the reflection of the floor on the car? i mean that on the side especially. thanks

    1. Hi, yes partly for that but also to determine where and how much rim lighting to put around the car as we knew the car was going to be put onto a much darker background in the final image.

  2. Very nicely done. The level of care that goes into these is astounding. Just one thing though. In the finished image I would have preferred to see the wheels static. The brakes don’t rotate and so will not appear blurred and the ground doesn’t appear to be moving either. Personal preference I know but I think it detracts from a really nice image.

    1. Agreed. Calipers would not be blurred, but unless it is a new Mercedes feature, the center caps “would” be blurred. That said, I know there are some 3rd party aftermarket LED lit center caps that do remain static with the car in motion.

      Also, I am not familiar with that model Mercedes, but I know on my Corvette, I can turn off the headlight delay and approach lights feature on the DIC and manually turn the outside lights on and off from the key fob outside the car. Might be an option on some cars? Cuts down on having to sweep up asphyxiated ninjas post shoot.

      Beautiful final comp – need to try this technique!

    2. Hi Steven, thank you. Someone else also pointed out about the brake callipers so at some point I’m going to go back to the original file and rework the static ones back into the wheels! I have put quite a bit of motion blur on the ground, more in the foreground as would be natural and have given it a slight arc.

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