I'm Tom Jackson, the owner and photographer behine Jackson Media. Car and bike photography is a passion for me - cars and bikes, old and new, can be works of art! I love the lines, form and the engineering magic found in many vehicles, but especially in classics, sports cars and motorbikes.
Shooting every vehicle is a fresh creative challenge, they all have unique lines and angles. My style is dark, dramatic and moody - I use lighting to highlight and accentuate a vehicle's form and to remove any distractions that might take away from the vehicle focus. The challenge for me is always to find ways to turn a car or bike into an exceptional piece of artwork that looks great hanging on any wall of your home or in commercial print.
I'm based in York, but travel widely, and I'd love to hear from you if you have a cherished or unique vehicle that you would like capturing. Do drop me a line via the contact buttton, I'm always happy to chat about any car or bike!
The challenges of car and motorbike photography!
If you've tried to take great photos of your own car or bike, you might appreciate how challenging it can be to get photos that really make the vehicle stand out and look amazing. I feel your pain! Car and bike photography poses some real photography challenges. Just to consider a few:
✅ Cars and bikes are highly reflective! It's like shooting a mirror sometimes! These shiny surfaces create unwanted reflections that can distract from the view of the vehicle and also distort the shape and form. Anything close to the vehicle is likely to be seen reflected in the bodywork in the image (including the photographer!).
✅ It sounds obvious, but cars and motorbikes are complex shapes with many lines, angles, and curves to consider. Every vehicle is unique and will benefit from determing the best angle to accentuate the form and features.
✅ Once you've worked out the best angles to shoot from, lighting is the next critical component to deal with. As I mentioned above, the surfaces are highly reflective so getting the lighting right can be especially challenging! Whether you're shooting using natural or available light or using studio flash lighting, you need to work out how the light on the car is going to impact the curves, shadows and lines. Flash lighting can also cause the colour of the paint to change, especially on metallic paint finishes!
✅ The environment in which the vehicle is photographed also plays a huge part in determing the mood of the image. Finding the right location for a shoot can really make the vehicle stand out. I often choose (by my lighting technique) to remove background environment completely so that all of the focus is entirely on the vehicle.
✅ Post-processing is an essential part of car photography. Using editing tools to enhance the colors, contrast, and details of the image will create an image that has real presence and depth.
How to Photograph your car or motorbike
If you're interested in taking your own photos of your car or motorbike, here are a few helpfup tips on how to go about it, addressing some of the above challenges.
Photograph your vehicle from different heights
Don't shoot from your head height, which is where you might naturally hold your camera or smartphone. Try getting down low to the vehicle and align yourself with the shoulder line of your vehicle, or get above it to accentuate the lines. Play around with different heights.
For this image, I was on step ladders, above the height of the rider to increase the sense of lean.
Photograph your vehicle from different angles
Experiment with taking photos from different angles on the car or bike. I took this image on a typical 3/4 flank position, which provides a great view on the full form of the car. Even a small step to the left or right can make a big difference to how features look, so make sure you try different positions until you find the strongest angles.
Don't use a wide angle lens to photograph your vehicle
If you have a zoom lens on your camera or smartphone, don't be tempted to get up close and use a wide angle shot. If you do, the shape and lines of the car or motorbike will be heavily distorted. Choose a longer zoom length (50mm or above for camera users) and shoot from further away. On the other hand, if you want to get funky with your images and play around with exaggerating features or lines, then feel free to go wide and close, the results could be fun!
As an example, this shot I took of an Austin Healey 3000 used a wider angle than I'd normally choose, to enhance the iconic grill and lights on this classic '60s sportscar.
Photograph your vehicle in an interesting place!
Sounds obvious, but finding a location or background that provides an interesting or creative background will lead to a far more powerful and engaging picture. If you can't find a good background another option is to try and find an open space, so that the vehicle isn't fighting for attention against the backdrop. And make sure there are no features (like lamp posts or trees) that are going to be sticking up behind the line of the car/bike.
Make sure the car or bike is clean before you take your photographs
Again, it sounds obvious, but make sure the vehicle is clean and polished before a shoot. A good quality camera will capture every detail - and that includes the dirt! Another good tip, especially if you're driven to the shoot location, make sure you give the tyres a wipe down (use a wet cloth or dedicated tyre cleaner spray) so that they look new. Dusty/muddy tyres can ruin a great shot!
Choose the right time of day for your vehicle photography
The available lighting will make or break your car or bike photos. Avoid shooting in the middle of the day in bright, overhead sunshine. The lines of the vehicle will be carved out much better when the sun is lower. You'll also benefit from the possibility of great sunsets behind the vehicle. You will probably need to add a bit of fill-in flash from your camera to bring out all the detail, as I've done for this Triumph Speed Triple, shot late in the day.
And finally, don't forget the details!
Sometimes, like the Austin Healey front end here, a vehicle can be defined by its design features. Try getting in close (but again, avoid a wide angle lens) and shoot close-up details. Getting a series of shots like this can make for a great image montage of your car/bike.
Where do I shoot? Studio or Location.
I offer both studio and location based shoot services. My current studio base is at the NY500 Centre, Pickering. The advantage of the studio shoot is that it allows full creative control to produce my preferred dark and moody style images. Another benefit of a studio shoot is that it is possible to shoot all year round, with no UK weather issues to contend with (no small consideration!) and it also provides a safe location for the shoot - away from public roads and traffic. However, location shoots can also be organised (subject to a safety assessment) and I can often shoot in your own garage or driveway if there is sufficient space (the GT40 shot in the header was shot on the owner's driveway). Contact me to discuss your preferences and we can look at all the options.
Like to see more of my work?
If you'd like to see more examples of my automotive work click on the gallery button.
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Book a Car or Bike Shoot
I provide commercial and private photography services across the UK. If you're looking for exceptional images of your car or bike, and beautiful wall-art prints from your images, then please reach out on the contact form below. I can't wait to hear what it is that you own!