Rev Up Car Photography with Just an iPhone An In-Depth Guide

The contemporary digital age has made it easier for car dealerships to showcase their offerings. While professional camera gear can be quite an investment, the iPhone, an everyday gadget in many pockets, is no slouch. With each new iteration, the iPhone has pushed boundaries in mobile photography. In this guide, we’ll clarify how to unlock its capabilities for car photography.

Car Photo iPhone

1. Unlocking the Full Potential of Camera Settings

Apple ProRAW: Introducing the ProRAW format means your iPhone can now capture uncompressed images that hold onto intricate details and colors. Think of it as having a more flexible canvas to paint on during post-processing.

Night Shift & True Tone: These features, designed for user comfort, can inadvertently affect color accuracy in your photos. Turning them off ensures you see colors in their truest form, vital for car photography where the vehicle’s color plays a starring role.

HDR (High Dynamic Range): Cars, being reflective entities, can have very bright highlights and deep shadows. HDR captures multiple exposures in a split second and merges them to give a well-balanced image.

2. Must-have Accessories for Superior Shots

Polarizer: Just as sunglasses help reduce glare for our eyes, a polarizer reduces reflective light in photographs. This means you can see through car windows and reduce reflections on the car’s body, making colors pop.

Primary Lens: Each iPhone iteration might have multiple lenses. However, the primary one, usually the widest, captures the most detail. For iPhones with multiple lenses, knowing which one to use for what shot can make a difference.

Stabilization Tools: The slightest shake can blur an image. Tripods can hold the iPhone steady, while gimbals can stabilize it during motion shots or videos. An Apple Watch or other remote controls can help capture photos without touching the phone, reducing the risk of shaking.

3. Crafting the Perfect Frame

Composition: The ‘Rule of Thirds’, a classic photographic principle, can be applied using the grid feature on the camera app. The intersections of the grid are strong focal points, so placing the car at these intersections can draw the viewer’s attention.

Instagram Tips: Instagram’s platform favors specific aspect ratios. Knowing these, like the 4:5, can ensure your images use up maximum screen real estate, making them more engaging.

Zooming In: Digital zoom, unlike optical zoom, magnifies the image artificially, which can degrade quality. Walking closer retains pixel integrity.


4. Using Light to Your Advantage:

Backlighting: Positioning the car between the camera and the light source creates a silhouette effect. This adds drama to the image. For iPhones, the smaller sensor can handle backlight better than some bigger camera sensors, reducing the chances of overexposure.

Shadows & Highlights: Play with the phone’s position relative to light. The interplay of shadows and highlights can lend depth to an image, making flat photos more three-dimensional.

5. Maintaining Your Makeshift Camera:

Even with the best settings, a smudged lens can ruin an image. Regular cleaning ensures no specks or streaks appear in photos. Always carry a lens cloth, and maybe even lens cleaning fluid, to ensure the lens remains pristine.

6. The Art of Post-Processing

Post-processing isn’t about altering reality but enhancing it.

Apps like Lightroom: Tools in such apps can adjust various elements – from exposure to color balance. Presets offer a quick way to apply a particular look, but diving deep into individual settings allows for personalized edits.

Selective Edits: Modern apps allow for region-specific edits. Highlighting just the car’s grill or its headlights, for instance, can draw attention to design elements.


The iPhone, once just a communication device, has evolved into a potent photography tool. With the right techniques, each shot can be magazine-worthy. While a good camera can capture what’s in front of it, a great photographer captures what they envision. With this guide, you have the tools to bring your vision to life.

Sean Toussi

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