Car shows are really cool. I’ve photographed them over the years and I’ve watched many people struggle with the challenges they present.
To take great car show pictures you have to think small. If you try to photograph every car from bumper to bumper you’ll have a multitude of problems.
Your first challenge is that show organizers generally have lots of entries and limited space, so cars are packed closely. If you want to take whole car shots, you’ll have busy backgrounds, people everywhere, and you’ll find yourself waiting on every shot. So, be patient and wait it out, or try another strategy.
Work the perimeter in search of full car images, but, even then, most cars will have their hoods raised to show off their engines. Look for cars with their hoods down and look on the edges of the show grounds.
I have an old friend who says “God is in the details.”
Details are great show attractions. Start looking for vintage car grills, bumpers, fins (think 57 Chevy), opera windows (love those 50s T-Birds). Look for fenders, old wooden dash boards, spoked wheels, and don’t forget superchargers, braided steel hoses, and side-pipes.
Here are a few samples…
My wife found out just how difficult car shows can be. She went one way and I went another. We met up from time to time to make sure everything was okay. She learned first-hand how to avoid the hoards of car buffs and their kids running up and down between exhibits. She also learned that car restoration enthusiasts love to talk about their passion. She and I both enjoyed lots of nice folks and talked shop with them.
I saw the opportunity to get a shot of me taking pictures. It’s a fun way to say, “See, I was really there.” Gotta love those chrome bumpers.
If you go online and check summer events calendars, you’ll find that any given year there will be multiple shows in your state, perhaps in your own neighborhood. Take a wide-angle lens and try to work without a tripod. This show was mid-afternoon to early evening, so, we planned to arrive late afternoon and shoot in the evening sun. We left earlier than we planned because my wife was a bit worn out, but, she loves the roar of engines and the beauty of muscle cars and roadsters as much as I do.
Good Luck in your car show challenge.