BMW M3 Automotive Shoot

Automotive photography is a really exciting thing to shoot. The sharp lines, aggressive grills, and polished rims add an instant pop and ‘wow’ factor to the photos. I love the way light spills over the contours of the car and how it can be adjusted to accentuate the curves in completely different ways, pushing it until just the right look is achieved.

Though I thoroughly enjoy the likes of Top Gear (UK edition of course!) I’m not actually a huge car fanatic. I am a highly visual person and thus what I enjoy most about the cars is their physical appearance. My favourites are the exotic super cars (like the Lamborghini Aventador for example). They are like works of art and are made that much more impressive by being extremely fast, powerful, and responsive.

All that in mind I naturally jumped at the chance to shoot a BMW M3. While not in the same class as the multi-milion dollar super cars, the M3 series nicely stands out from the average BMW in terms of looks and performance and I knew it would be a blast to shoot.

The owner was interested in selling their M3, very reluctantly of course, and wanted something to help it stand out from the other cars in that class. He had a particular style in mind for the shoot so the ad would appeal to the target market. With a good idea of what he was looking for I started scouting locations. I scoped locations ranging from a $1.2 million dollar mansion, to brick covered heritage buildings, to high-end golf course communities. After running the potential locations by the client we discussed some of the concepts and set a date.

We started out at the rolling greens of Tobiano golf course and community. This was a great location for the car as it catered well to prospective buyers. After finding some stand out locations within the community/course we positioned the car and setup the lighting to take advantage of the sunset conditions. In addition to the sun, we added a couple softboxes and a reflector to hit all the contours.




After nailing some great shots we were forced to wrap shooting because we’d burned through what was left of the daylight.

The next day we set out to find a location for the interior and detail shots. Luckily one of the assistants had access to an underground parking garage which was the perfect place to control the lighting and get some nice environmental elements in the frame. All of the following shots were taken with a single strobe in a 24″ softbox, all handheld by the assistant. The softbox was mounted on the end of lighting stand and was dangled dead center for the mean looking grill shot as well as the engine bay shot.




For the headrest shot we opened the passenger door and aimed the softbox towards the driver side headrest.


The engine cover was shot with the light about 90 degrees (form the camera) up and to the right to get some nice reflection off the M3 logo on the engine cover.

It’s was a relatively quick and spectacular wrap to a really fun shoot. Can’t wait for the next one!

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