Career Development

What Does an Automotive Photographer Do?

Find out what an automotive photographer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an automotive photographer.

Automotive photographers are responsible for taking photos of cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles. They work closely with automotive manufacturers to capture images that will be used in advertisements, brochures, websites, etc.

Automotive photographers must have an eye for detail and a strong knowledge of lighting techniques and composition. They must also be able to work quickly under pressure—they often have just a few minutes to take each photo, so they need to know how to plan out their shots ahead of time and execute them flawlessly when the time comes.

Automotive Photographer Job Duties

Automotive photographers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Taking photos of cars during test drives to ensure the quality of the vehicle meets company standards
  • Capturing details about each vehicle including make, model, year, color, and condition
  • Shooting promotional photos for websites, brochures, and other marketing materials
  • Shooting photos of new cars at auto shows or other events to promote new models
  • Shooting photos of cars during auto accidents to document damage to vehicles
  • Shooting promotional photos of cars for dealerships
  • Creating artistic images of cars using digital editing software
  • Determining appropriate lighting and background settings for different types of photography projects
  • Taking photos of cars being serviced or repaired at a dealership or shop to be used in advertisements or brochures

Automotive Photographer Salary & Outlook

Automotive photographers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $35,926 ($17.27/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $69,000 ($33.17/hour)

The employment of automotive photographers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

As more people purchase smartphones and other mobile devices, automotive companies will continue to hire automotive photographers to take pictures of their products for advertising purposes. In addition, the need to promote new models through social media will lead to more hiring of automotive photographers.

Automotive Photographer Job Requirements

To become an automotive photographer, you will likely need:

Education: Most automotive photographers have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, but many have a bachelor’s degree in photography or a related field. Some photographers choose to earn a two-year associate’s degree in photography or media arts. Courses in photography, digital imaging, graphic design and art history can help prepare students for a career in automotive photography.

Training & Experience: Most automotive photographers learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training may include shadowing an experienced photographer for a few weeks or months, or it may be part of the onboarding process for a new role. Training often includes learning about the company’s workflow, the software they use and the specific requirements for the photographs they take.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not usually a requirement to become an automotive photographer. However, they can help you stand out from other candidates when applying for jobs.

Automotive Photographer Skills

Automotive photographers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Automotive photographers use technical skills to operate camera equipment, software and other tools. They also use technical skills to edit images and create marketing materials. Automotive photographers use technical skills to understand the specifications of the vehicles they photograph, such as the size of the tires and the location of the fuel tank.

Communication skills: Automotive photographers use their communication skills to interact with clients, colleagues and models. They also use their communication skills to explain their photography process and the results they expect to achieve. This can help them to collaborate with other professionals to achieve the desired results.

Problem-solving skills: Automotive photographers often work with clients to create the best possible image for a product. This can involve working with the client to find the right model, location and lighting to create the image. Problem-solving skills can help you work with clients to find the best solution for creating the image.

Organization skills: Automotive photographers often work with other professionals, such as marketing teams, sales representatives and other photographers. Having strong organizational skills can help you keep track of your work and the work of others. It can also help you meet deadlines and complete projects on time.

Creative thinking: Automotive photographers use their creative thinking skills to come up with new ideas for their work. They may need to think of new ways to capture a car or other vehicle model to make it stand out from other similar images. They may also need to think of new ways to present a car model to make it more appealing to the audience.

Automotive Photographer Work Environment

Automotive photographers typically work in studios or on location, using a variety of lighting techniques to capture the best images of cars and trucks. They may work long hours, including evenings and weekends, to meet deadlines. Some automotive photographers travel to different locations to take pictures of vehicles, while others may work from a single location. Automotive photographers typically work with a team of art directors, stylists, and other photographers to create the final product.

Automotive Photographer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how automotive photographers work. Automotive photographers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Virtual Reality in Automotive Photography

The use of virtual reality (VR) in automotive photography is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows customers to experience a car before they buy it. This trend is likely to continue as VR becomes more accessible and affordable for businesses.

Automotive photographers who want to stay ahead of the curve should consider learning how to shoot in VR. This will allow them to create immersive experiences that showcase cars in the best possible light. In addition, they should also be familiar with the latest VR technologies so that they can work with professionals who are using them.

More Focus on Digital Content

As technology advances, automotive photographers are shifting their focus towards creating digital content. This shift is due to the increasing popularity of online media, which allows automotive photographers to reach a wider audience than ever before.

By focusing on creating digital content, automotive photographers can better utilize the tools available to them and create content that is both visually appealing and easy to navigate. They can also use this opportunity to develop new skills and explore different types of content, such as video or social media.

A Greater Emphasis on Customer Experience

Customer experience is becoming an increasingly important factor in the automotive industry. As customers become more tech-savvy, they expect to be able to interact with brands in new and innovative ways.

This trend is having a significant impact on the way that automotive photographers do their work. By understanding customer expectations and developing a deep understanding of branding, automotive photographers can create images that resonate with customers and help to build trust between the two parties.

How to Become an Automotive Photographer

An automotive photographer’s career path can be very rewarding. It is important to start off by building a strong portfolio of your work. This will help you get noticed and land jobs with top companies. You should also attend industry events and meet other photographers, as this will help you build relationships that can lead to new opportunities.

Once you have established yourself as an automotive photographer, you can specialize in different areas. For example, you could focus on shooting cars for advertisements or car magazines. You could also become a specialist in photographing racing cars or supercars.

Advancement Prospects

Automotive photographers typically advance in their careers by taking on more assignments and clients. As they become more well-known and respected in the industry, they can command higher fees for their work. In addition, automotive photographers who develop a strong portfolio of work can eventually move into other areas of photography, such as fashion or advertising.

Automotive Photographer Job Description Example

We are looking for an experienced automotive photographer to join our team and help us capture the beauty, power, and emotion of the cars we sell. As our automotive photographer, you will be responsible for shooting photos of our cars for use in our print and online catalogs, as well as for our website and social media channels. You will need to have a strong understanding of composition, lighting, and automotive styling, as well as the ability to work quickly and efficiently. We are looking for someone who is passionate about cars and photography and who has the creative vision to produce stunning images that will help us sell more cars.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Photograph a variety of automotive products, including new vehicles, vintage cars, and aftermarket parts and accessories
  • Work with art directors, producers, and other creatives to execute assigned photography projects from start to finish
  • Operate a wide range of camera equipment, including DSLRs, medium format cameras, and 360-degree cameras
  • Edit raw images in post-production using Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and other image editing software
  • Maintain an organized archive of all completed photography projects
  • Adhere to strict deadlines while maintaining the highest standards of quality
  • Travel as needed to on-location shoots, both domestic and international
  • Assist with the set up and break down of photography equipment and props
  • Manage and maintain photography studio inventory
  • Train and supervise junior photographers and assistants
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest trends in automotive photography
  • Continuously develop creative vision and technical skills

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in photography, fine art, or related field
  • 3-5 years of experience as a professional photographer
  • Exceptional portfolio of automotive photography
  • Proficiency with DSLR cameras and photo-editing software
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently and meet deadlines

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Experience photographing cars in a studio setting
  • Experience photographing cars on location
  • Familiarity with automotive industry
  • Flexibility to travel for assignments


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