My first car show was the annual Cherokee Rod Run. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of beautiful cars and hot rods spread out over the huge fair grounds lot. I instantly had visions of making amazing photos like the ones I had seen in car magazines since I was a kid. My excitement was soon quenched, however, as I discovered that no matter what angle I chose to photograph a car, the background would be cluttered with other cars, food and souvenir vendors, and other car show visitors. Who wants "car guy" with his neon yellow Chevy t-shirt in the picture?
Then I spied another photographer taking a close-up shot of a hood ornament. That reminded me of an article I had read of photographing the interesting details of custom cars. Partial views, abstracts, and details can be as interesting as whole vehicle views, more so if the background is filled with distracting elements. Problem solved. I spent the rest of the morning attacking the car show with that philosophy - concentrate on smaller, selected views.
Roof Line, Waynesville, NC - 2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)
That's been my approach at car shows ever since. Rarely can you get an uncluttered full view, so don't fight it. Concentrate on interesting details, lines, colors, and shapes as I did on this roof line of a '50s era Ford. It's all in the details!