Car Show Photography at a Crappy Car Show

I call this, "Self-Portrait of an Idiot, In Chrome"
I call this, "Self-Portrait of an Idiot, In Chrome"

Hey, we’ve all been there. Sometimes a car show just sucks.

A semaphore, also known as a "trafficator". Want.
A semaphore, also known as a "trafficator". Want.

Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes it’s the timing, sometimes it’s the location. Sometimes it’s the fact that everyone attending the car show is either over 85 and ornery, or 40-something and waiting for the 80’s to come back into style so their righteous mullet will help them pick up chicks again like it did when they were in high school. Sometimes a competing car show a few miles away the day before, in a town with a reputation for having hot girls, has drawn all the best cars. Hey, it happens.
So then, through no fault of their own, the organizers of a car show have a plethora of reasons it might not go so well, and they end up with a bondo-covered 1984 Ford LTD, a snot-green Vega, and a riced-out Civic. As car guys, we totally understand. Even when we’ve driven for an hour, and spent another hour getting all our gear together to photograph the show.
In fairness, the show we attended earlier this year wasn’t all that bad; it just wasn’t that good. There was very little content there to really peak your interest, and the heavy-handed administration from a bunch of octogenarian busy-bodies meant that they had annoyed enough car owners that they weren’t bothering to show up. For instance, one driver complained loudly that they weren’t accepting any registrants who showed up after the 7AM cut-off, or something to that effect.
So what do you do when your car show isn’t all that good? It’s time to teach yourself how to work a macro button. At least, I think that’s what it’s called. It’s the flower-button.
Bonus points for anyone who can name every car in the gallery!

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16 responses to “Car Show Photography at a Crappy Car Show”

  1. ptschett Avatar

    That '57 Pontiac Star Chief brings back memories. My dad had a black/white convertible for a couple years and sold it when I was about 10. As a result '57 Pontiacs were a common theme of my artwork at the time. And a continental kit!? Win.

  2. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Having chaired the organizing committee for my church's annual car show for six straight years, you just sent a chill down my spine. Every year I just keep thinking "Please, please, Lord, let this show not suck…"

  3. Deartháir Avatar

    A few years ago, the car show that was scheduled to happen in Prince Rupert was almost wiped out by the fact that the only highway in or out of town was closed by a massive mudslide and flooding. As a result, rather than the 100-odd cars they were expecting, they now figured they would be lucky to get a dozen.
    I called up everyone I knew with a nice car a few days before and told them to get started on cleaning their cars. The highway wasn't supposed to open for another week, so their car had to go into the show and make it not suck.
    We ended up with around 60 cars, enough for a decent show, and some really neat odd-ball stuff, from my old Benz and Corrado to a '50s-style dragster, to an immaculate '64 'Vette with a twin-turbo big-block. Honestly, we probably had more fun than we would have otherwise.
    I should point out I wasn't involved in organizing the show in any way, I just didn't want it to suck. They still don't know that I did that.

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      Your my hero… but Canadian.

  4. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I knew I liked you.

  5. Alff Avatar

    Make sure to post here, if your chuch does it again. There are quite a few locals on the board.

  6. BGW, Capt (Ret.) Avatar

    You say "snot-green Vega" as if that's a bad thing.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Never! I mean, there's gotta be one good car at every show, right?

  7. LTDScott Avatar

    Look Jonny and Graverobber, SEMAPHORE!

  8. LTDScott Avatar

    Oh, and I take offense to that LTD comment 🙂

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Hahaha. I actually had you in mind as I typed this. "Oh, he's gonna hate this!" 😉

  9. engineerd Avatar

    I wonder if the trafficator would look right on my Mustang? Only one way to find out! Charge up the sawzall batteries, I'm modifying! OK, maybe not. At least not yet.
    Having just bought my first SLR last summer, I'm still practicing and getting my photography skills up. I do alright with a point and shoot, but the SLR is like a whole other ball game. I did get some cool pictures at the Valiant Air Command airplane museum in Titusville, FL. I also got some kind of crappy ones. A bad car show would be a good place to practice because then you wouldn't feel too bad if some of the pictures didn't come out well.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      That was my thought! I've got a fairly good non-SLR digital camera (or, it was fairly good when I bought it a few years ago…) but I've never really taken the time to learn how to use it properly. Only one way to learn!

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      #1 trick for car-show shoots: avoid the "I'm standing 8-10 feet away and shooting a 3/4 view from eye level" shot. Sure, it shows the car and engine, but it rarely catches the eye in a gallery of pictures.
      Get low, get high, get close, capture textures and detail and patina. Also worth shooting: attendees of note. The expressions on little kids can be classic.

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        And the cleavage is great to document for later. Wait, what?
        There was another guy at this car-show doing exactly what you describe. 8-10 feet away, 3/4 view, eye level. I'm lying on the ground in wet grass, I'm trying to get shots from underneath cars, I'm standing on picnic tables. He's got a huge SLR camera that must have been worth a fortune, and he looks at me and says, "What the hell are you doing?"
        "Trying to get shots that really show how beautiful they are, not just what they look like."
        "(long pause…) Why the hell are you doing that?"

    3. .357- Das Über Cool Avatar

      When you first said SLR, I thought you meant McLaren.