For some reason, most people just go out to the photoshoot and just see what they can do when they get there. If you want a highly successful photoshoot then you must prepare, just like you prepare for everything else in life. I don’t mean prepare as in clean your gear and make sure you have everything. I mean prepare as in have a vision in your mind of how the shoot will go, how you will position the car, what settings you will use, etc… before you even get there.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with doing it the other way it still gets the job done but if you implement these tips, not only will your productivity increase but you will be able to see things that you couldn’t see while at the shoot. Plus, you will get a lot more time to experiment with new ideas that you never got to try out before.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t do every single shoot following these steps. If you do this every time then you will get bored of photography. The lovely thing about photography is going out and capturing what your eyes see as beautiful. That means sometimes just shooting on a whim whenever something catches your eye.

If you focus only on these steps every single time you go out to shoot then your photography will become routine work and you will lose your creativity. Creativity is like a muscle, the more you use it, the better it becomes. It is important to keep a variety of your shoots so it doesn’t turn into routine work.

Here is what you can expect to gain from following these steps:

    • Sense of clarity and focus when you go to the photoshoot
    • New resources that will improve your automotive photography
    • See things from a different perspective, allowing you to get better shots
    • Be more efficient with your time
    • Have more time to do experiments that you never had time to do on previous shoots
    • Know exactly what works and what doesn’t before you even see the car or get to the location

First things first

Before you start doing any planning, you have to do some critical thinking. Think about the type of car you’re shooting, the color of the car, what you want in the background, and what you want around the car. There are many different variations that you could be faced with so there is no one size fits all. If you want to have a very successful shoot and not be clueless when you get there then this is the first step.

This is where you decide what you want to accomplish with this shoot. This is where your creativity comes into play. Think about all the ways that the shoot could go and then choose the one that best interests you. Once you figure out how you want the photoshoot to go, keep this image in your mind, you will need it for the whole planning process.

Turn your vision into a plan

One you’ve got your critical thinking out of the way, the fun stuff begins. This is where you begin to see that vision of yours come into reality.

What we’re doing now is basically going to the shoot without actually going to the shoot.


Let me explain.

Google Maps

Decide where you want to go do the shoot and find it on the map. I personally use Google Maps because of the Street View they offer but, of course, you can use whatever service you want.

If you don’t know what location you want to do the photoshoot in then you can use the map to move around anywhere in the world and find a spot that suits your needs. You can literally go on any street in the world and it’s like you’re standing right there.

If your location is somewhere off of a road it will be harder to do this. What you can do is use Google’s Earth View to view the map on a 3D level, which won’t be the best quality but hey it’s 3D and you can go in the woods if you want to.

Find your location and start examining it.

Here, you can actually visualize the car you’re shooting and the location all in one. If you’re Photoshop sassy, you can take a cutout image of your subject and take a screenshot of the location, then just set up the car how you imagined it in your mind earlier.


You pretty much just shot that car without even picking up your camera or getting out of your seat.

If you don’t have Photoshop or don’t know how to do that then I guess you could print out a copy of the car, might be silly but it probably works. I haven’t tried that so I don’t know if it will work for sure. Or if you have a toy car, maybe?

Worried about the lighting?

Don’t be.

It’s important to know when the sunrise or sunset will be in that area so you can plan your shots. Go on and check the times there.

The reason you need to know those things is so you can plan your lighting ahead of time (isn’t that what this is all about?) and thanks to the Google Maps you can pretty much see how the light will affect your image. Just remember, the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

Final Stages

The last few things that you have to do for this planning process are as follows:

Choose your gear

Some people like to bring all of their gear if they don’t have a lot and some like to bring a few lenses and a body or two and other necessities. That’s completely up to you.

Personally, I figure out which lenses I will need during my Google Maps stages. I know which lens I like to use at certain situations so that helps when doing this process.

Basically, don’t bring anything that you won’t need. Figure out what you will need and only bring that. All the other stuff is a waste of time and space.

Choose your compositions

This can be a tricky one depending on your situation. Again, none of this stuff is a one size fits all, you have to make your own decisions.

In certain cases, you can even figure out the structure of some of your shots simply by using the Google Maps tools.

It will take some practice to get used to using all of this stuff to your advantage but once you keep doing it, you’ll see how beneficial it really is.

Once you get to the actual shoot you will be much more relaxed, have a higher sense of focus, and produce much better results because this will be your second time doing that shoot. 😉

It already happened once in your head, now let it play out in real life.

That’s all folks

If you have successfully followed the steps outlined above: Creative Thinking, Google Maps, Lighting, Composition, and Gear, then you will always be one step ahead of your competitors.

This gives you an advantage over the rest of the automotive photographers because you are taking action before the shoot happens. You are doing what no one else wants to do. Thus, giving you results that no one else can get.

Doing this planning phase will help get you familiar with the business-related planning.

Every business that exists must have a plan, meaning the owner must know where they are going with the company and how they will get there. If you want a successful business, that’s what needs to be done.You have to do the proper research in order to know if it will be successful or not.

With this plan, you are doing research on Google Maps and thinking about the structure of the shots to see if that shoot will be successful or not. I mean, come on, you can just look at a location and see when it isn’t much you can do there.

How do you plan for your photoshoots? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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