Tag Archives: Automotive Photography

Detroit Automotive Photographers

Teamwork Photography

Detroit Automotive Photographers

This is the result of the teamwork of a bunch of people. Client, gotta have a client or you can’t get started. Art director(s), cause you gotta have something to say, visually speaking, and the creative team comes up with concept. Photographers, that’s me and Dave. I lit and shot the exterior of the vehicle, then with the camera locked down, Dave lit and shot the models. There was lots of pre-production too – finding vehicles and models – yes, models and the agency too – and stylists. Granted, you can’t see a lot of clothing. Nonetheless, a lot of work went into finding the right coat, shirt and props. Make-up stylist – yup, gotta make sure that the models are looking their best. And, there was a really great dog named Huckleberry and another photographer, Mariusz Niedzwiedzki (based on the metadata), who shot the stock photography. Finally, the retoucher, who put all of the elements together. This was very much a team effort! As always, let me know what you think!

Automotive Photographer

I just finished retouching another car from the Goodyear shoot. Red is a great color for a car. The I hope to hear from the art director soon about the main shots from the shoot. They are handling the retouching on those shots. For the main shots, I lit the exterior of the vehicle, and afterward, Dave shot the people inside. Very much the tag team approach, that we use on many projects. Please let me know what you think.Detroit Automotive Photographer

Automotive photographer in Metro Detroit

Automotive Photography

Automotive photographer in Metro Detroit

I love shooting cars. We recently did a shoot for Goodyear, and in addition to the main shots I did a few full car shots for their library. Automotive photography is always a challenge, but that’s what makes it fun. The shoot went well; it helps to have great clients and art directors. As always, I’m interested in your comments.

Detroit Car Photographer - Thomas Kirby

Automotive Detail Photography

I love beautiful details. A well designed car has loads of great details, like badges, tail lights, door handles, side moulding, headlights or air scoops. Lighting and design become key to making a good image. Red helps too! As always, let me know what you think.Thomas Kirby Detroit Autumotive Photographer

Automotive Studio Photography

Automotive Photographer Metro Detroit

I had the opportunity not long ago to shoot a FIAT 500 Lounge. Many thanks to James Houfley at Golling. I like shooting red cars and this one is no exception. It has nice badging and some excellent details.

Automotive Studio PhotographyAutomotive photography is challenging and rewarding. In some ways it’s like shooting a huge piece of jewelry, but it’s a lot bigger!. It’s all about what’s reflecting in the paint. You want it to look shiny, but still have color. My studio is ideally suited to automotive photography by design. There is a complete eggshell to help control reflections. Picture the inside of an eggshell, with a floor; that’s pretty much what I’ve got. A space that’s fifteen feet high with all of the corners coved.


Car Photographer - Tom Kirby

Let me know what you think!

Studio Rental Math

There are many fewer studios in metro Detroit than there were a few years ago, because there is less work. We still have a studio, but I’ve wrestled with the idea of not having a studio. In other areas, notably the East and West coasts, some photographers have studios, but it’s not uncommon for a photographer to rent a studio just for shoot days, and include it in their bill. I don’t know the reason, but in the midwest, or at least in Metro Detroit, the business model has always been, except for car photography, studio rental is included in the fee. This makes it a little more difficult, but not impossible.

The overhead for our studio is about $32,000 a year. We rent our studio for $650.00 / day. Unless you shoot in studio a lot, you may be better off renting, even if you can’t bill the entire rental fee. You only have that overhead when your shooting. In addition if you develop a relationship with a studio and you rent there often you could likely bargain them down a little.

Automotive studio photographyWorking in the studio is about 90% of what I do. That’s why I’ve chosen to have my own. We rent it out to help with the overhead. The day may come when it no longer makes sense, but it hasn’t come yet. How does it work for you?

Digital WorkFlow

Film was Simpler, but Harder

Back when I shot on film, everything was on transparencies. That made photography more difficult – an unforgiving medium. There was little recourse if highlights were burned out, shadows too deep or color was off. Still, you work with what you’ve got. I learned to pre-visualize, shoot Polaroids, do color balance tests before the shoot, and when the budget allowed, I’d wait for film. On the other hand, when I handed over the film, I was finished.

Now, I am further into the workflow. This gives me way more flexibility to adjust, after the shoot, color, contrast, and exposure. Often I do the retouching, and deliver color corrected tiffs. Then I archive the job in case the files are needed again. I thought it might be interesting to share the process in more detail.

The shoot

Because this is about the workflow, I’ll ignore all of the pre-production and jump right to the shoot. I almost always shoot tethered. I like the knowledge that I’ve got it, without any waiting. It also gives clients a preview of what they’re getting. The laptop screen is calibrated with Eye-One (made by x-rite) so I’m pretty sure I’ve got the color right to start.Capture one Screen Shot I shoot with Capture One software, because I’ve got a Phase One back, and it works very well with our Canons too. Apart from doing an excellent job processing RAW files, one of the things I like about Capture one is that it creates a folder structure for every job. A session folder contains a capture folder, a trash folder, and an output folder.

After the Shoot

After the shoot, I simply copy this folder to the “job” drive on our server. I am then able to work off the server to make all the adjustments to the captured images and process them to make tiffs. If I’m doing the retouching, I’ll use Photoshop (big surprise) and create new folders inside the session folder that contains all of the files I’re working on. This keeps all the files for a each project together and organized. The server automatically backs this drive up to an external hard drive every night. The nightly backup keeps versions of the files for 30 days, so it’s possible to go back to get older versions of files, or deleted files if necessary. After the retouching is completed, and the job is delivered, the job folder is copied to an archive drive, also on the server. Once a month, I duplicate everything on to a yet another hard drive and take it home for safe keeping. So I have several terabytes of online archives of old jobs with a back-up off-site in case of drive failure or natural disaster.

Automotive Advertising Photography

Dave shot the Landscape it’s stripped into. Teamwork is everything.

I’d love to hear what you think or about your workflow.