Some people are car, boat, or even motorcycle enthusiast and enjoy going to outdoor shows. You may even want pictures of yourself (or your model) by some of the more exotic vehicles. Here are a couple tips that may make the event a little easier for everyone whether you are a pro or just there to take a few images.
These shows often draw big crowds, and you may run into people around popular vehicles almost constantly which may make it more difficult to get the shot that you want. Even if you have specifically been hired to photograph the show you will be limited as to what equipment you may be able to use in large crowds. Tripods, lightstands, large modifiers will often get kicked or tripped over by visitors. Consider bringing a zoom lens that you can shoot with a shallow depth of field if necessary. A speedlight will often provide enough fill to bring out details, but obviously pointing it directly at bare metal will result in a nasty flare.
Consider, what makes that car, motorcycle, or even boat especially attractive. For a car, it may be the engine particularly if it is chrome. Take some close-ups of the engine parts, dash panel, or even the grill work. Just at the right minute as you are already close to the car, you may have a few seconds to snap that one image of the entire body. Which brings out a great point that although you may love the fixed lens on your camera 90% or the time, now is the time to bring out your zoom lens to get the shots that you may want in a very small amount of space with limited time.
Motorcycles in particular are often parked side by side is almost a straight line. Patterns and leading lines can really set off an image and even if you capture a stray visitor, you may be able to crop or even remove that person in post production. Try changing your body position from a higher perspective to a very low near ground perspective as you continue to shoot. Look for lines and curves within the vehicle.
If you happen to have someone with you (or even a model) with whom you would like to make a few images, be sure to ask the owner (if available) before someone leans or gets into a vehicle. Particularly if it is a vintage show, the vehicles have certainly received loving care and no one wants an unpleasant scene or worse yet a broken accessory. Offer to take a few shots of the vehicle with the owner and promise him/her that you will email back some nice shots. When including people in the image, you may want to use a on camera flash properly expose your subjects face.
Especially when shooting outdoors, reflections from the sun can be very dramatic, and even a bit of lens flare can set an ok image into an image that you may be very proud to show. In the same respect, remember, particularly for darker parts of a vehicle you may need to bracket your exposures (one stop above/below what you believe to be the correct exposure). This step may bring out details that would have been otherwise missed in the shot.
Even if you are not very much into car or motorcycle shows, try visiting one with your camera. These events can often sharpen your photography skills in ways that you may not have imagined.
Bob Barford is a published photographer based in Southern Pennsylvania