Can You Take a Picture of Someone’s Car?

Many photographers tend to take pictures of virtually anything that they think of. It’s no surprise if they want to take a photo of a car that has taken their attention. But is that legal?

Yes, you can take a picture of someone’s car. As long as the vehicle is in a public space or is visible in a public space, any photographer has the legal right to take a picture of it. 

This right even extends to them photographing you or the license plate of your vehicle. However, you can ask them politely why they did that, but they have no right to answer you depending on your tone. 

Car photography always turns out very impressively.

You will appreciate it. This post covers the scenario when a stranger takes a picture of your car as well as offers car photography tips and tricks to achieve great photos. Read on. 

How to Take Car Photography

Car photography is often rewarding, fun, and exciting. You could be snapping editorial shoots for some luxury cars or ready to get down and dirty with some off-road car photos. Here is how you can capture the personality of the vehicle. 

Choose a unique perspective to make it outstanding

If you want to stand out with your car photography, always avoid taking mainstream shots and get a unique spot. When working for a client, they often have their ideas and ideals that they want you to stick to, but you can always go above and beyond that when shooting. You need to locate an unusual angle or an exciting location to get the most of the photo. 

Ensure that you look at the car from an entirely new perspective. You can even choose to use drones or take aerial shots so you can capture the car in a larger frame. Many car photographers can confirm that the best results are taken in unexpected settings. 

Add a human element to liven up the photo 

Many times, car photography is not always about cars. It can involve people as well. You can easily get a shot of someone opening the door or even driving the car. Some models or just anyone can stand beside the car with pride or have the car as the background for a shot. 

Such photos always tend to have a livelier presentation. You will even notice that most car magazines have a human element in most of their photos. Sometimes, however, you should not take a picture of just anyone. It would be best if you found someone that matches the personality of the car. 

Many people tend to relate better if they like the person in the photo. There are still many stereotypes in the car industry that you need to keep in mind. For instance, a Lamborghini has a target audience. If you choose to include a human element in the photo, ensure that the model fits the target. 

Take photos of the inside to show more of the car 

Some of the best car photos are always of the inside of the auto. Remember that people will spend more time inside a car driving it and not standing outside to admire it. So even if it is the most beautiful vehicle in the world, the inside matters most. 

It would be best if you put your focus on the dashboard and steering. These are the common areas when it comes to inside the car photography. Be sure to include any special features like a screen. 

Create balance by composing your photo well 

Composition is vital in any photo. You can apply the various rules learned in photography, including the golden ratio, rule of thirds, or leading lines. Moreover, you can play around with the colors or location. Another tip is to ensure that you fill the frame for a more visually appealing photo. 

Find the best lighting conditions for well-lit pictures 

person sitting in Mercedes-Benz driver seat

Lighting is essential in any photography. It is a significant determining factor that can break or make the shot. Therefore, if you are planning on a staged outdoor photography session, you need to determine the time of day with the best lighting conditions or ideal for you and the photo you intend to take. On most occasions, the golden hour is ideal. This includes the last hour before sunset and the first hour after sunrise. 

If the car pictures are being taken in high sun, ensure you use an umbrella or a reflector. You can also find a shade, or shooting using an excellent ND filter can do the trick. You can employ a tripod in difficult lighting conditions and place your camera and be careful that it does not shake. The tripod also works well for the lower-end camera models that cannot sustain high ISOs. It allows the shutter and ISO to be kept at a minimum to diminish noise. 

Furthermore, it is essential to note that the car paint and car colors also influence the time you can ideally photograph it. Some colors do not work well with direct sunlight, while some are well accentuated with sunlight. The color also determines the location and background of the photo. Some colors will pop out just right with the right background. 

For instance, picture a red vehicle in a green background. The matte finish cars look great in a variety of lighting conditions, given their lack of reflections. The traditional finishes do well in even lighting conditions. 

Use exciting locations to highlight the vehicle 

Photography is very similar to telling a story. And every good storyteller will tell you that the setting is everything. Therefore, be sure to select the right location for the shoot that will define the character and express the feeling of the images. Ensure that the background fits the theme and suits the car. For instance, an exotic-looking car will not do well in a muddy off-road setting. 

In the same vein, an off-road vehicle will look off when in front of a hotel. Allow the car to interact with the background. This always results in perfect photos. You can capture them driving through mud, climbing over an obstacle, or picking dust. 

Ensure that the background does not overpower the vehicle in that it pulls the viewer’s eyes off the car. Backgrounds with distractions tend to take away from the car. These can include bright trash bins, other cars, power lines, etc. the location you choose should always enhance the car. 

Capture Driving Shots to Show Movement 

time lapse photography of running car

Static posed shots are cool, but what is even more fun are the driving shots. You are simply expressing the primary purpose of the car. Often, the best and most visually appealing driving photos are those where the car is kept in focus, and the background is in a panned motion blur. 

The best way to capture motion is by standing by the side of the road and allowing the car to drive past you. You will be required to follow through with your lens in a smooth action with the shutter speed set to 125th of a second.

 Another alternative is by taking the shot from a moving car. You can have someone else driving and take the shot from the car window. This usually gets excellent movement on the wheels and the road. 

Experiment with angles for exciting results.

Cars always have many great angles- make sure you use them. One common mistake people make is shooting at eye level, as this gives basic results. Although the view at eye level is a logical way to shoot, it captures only the least flattering angle. 

The angle does not highlight the best features of the car. You need to go low or high to the side or turn at an angle. For the commercial aspect, vertical photos are recommended. They also tend to look better on mobile devices.

What to Do When a Stranger Takes a Photo of Your Car

Often, we see photographers taking photos of anything out in public, be it buildings, parks, and even cars. And they are justified to do that. 

Therefore, if you have parked your vehicle in a public space or view of the public, any photographer can rightfully photograph it. Also, they are permitted to take your picture or even the license plate of your car. Understandably, this may not go well with many car owners. You can choose to ask why they did that politely. 

However, they are not obligated to answer and depending on your tone, they can decide to leave the scene without giving you an answer. If you confront them or become hostile and aggressive when asking, they are less likely to answer you. Either way, you have no right to demand an answer.

Often, people do not take photos of just any car. Therefore, if someone is interested in taking a picture of your vehicle, you know the reason. It could be a very unusual car, very rare, or simply fascinating. 

Moreover, it could be the background for a street scene or a model, and therefore, one can take a picture of it. So, whether you have illegally parked it, or it has been used in committing a crime, or involved in a car accident, you have no ability or legal right to stop anyone from photographing it.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that most cars have permanently installed dash cams that constantly record images of vehicles, their drivers, and license plates all around them. These pictures are taken and recorded when driving and especially when parked. 


Car photography can be appealing. And even if you have the right to a picture of someone’s car, it would be best to wait for the owner and ask for permission. Most times, it turns out well.

Then, you can apply the tips and tricks above to get the perfect shot.