Automotive Lifestyle photography is an artistic form that aims to capture people and their cars in everyday situations, real-life events or milestones. It is the "art of the everyday." A uniquely modern style of photography, it combines the best of two distinctly different traditions: the candid nature of photojournalism with the preparedness of studio portraiture. The goal is to achieve an authentic "day in the life" look with editorial quality.
The primary goal of this art of subtlety is to tell a story about people in their environment in a natural, energetic, and relatable way. The images may resemble snapshots, but everything from the lighting to location to styling details are deliberately thought out to support a certain mood. However, while there is certainly arranging involved, the successful image avoids over-staging. The simple truth is that if something looks too perfect, it won't feel real.
In 2013, Nissan North America, Inc. commissioned me to shoot Public Relations lifestyle images of their electric car, the Nissan LEAF. The idea was to shoot a set of images with people using the LEAF in real-life scenarios that the P.R. folks could then hand over to the national automotive news media to support the articles they were writing about the product. Now, while automotive Marketing and Advertising teams have been using lifestyle shots for decades, this was a relatively new concept to most automotive Product PR teams - who had traditionally focused on three things: the car, the car, and the car.
Fast-forward to today and most automotive PR teams are now shooting lifestyle images of their product - they are a fixture on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. And why not? It's an effective way to allow potential buyers to imagine themselves living a particular lifestyle in the specific automobile they are considering.
The main goals of shooting automotive lifestyle imagery are: to capture the emotion behind driving one of the vehicles, the excitement of performance and today’s active lifestyle. In many of these images, the viewer may not see the entire car and that's okay; the photographer is trying to create a setting and tell a story with a collection of images. Storytelling is an important element in automotive lifestyle photography. It's very different from traditional PR images that just show the car. In lifestyle shots, the "hero" may not be the car, but rather the owner of the car. The story shows the Big Picture of people living their active lifestyle - and the car is just a part of that story. The photographer incorporates those activities that they would typically do: hanging out at home, going to a favorite coffee shop, record or book store, or heading out for a night on the town.
When viewers of these images see themselves as the stars of their own stories - with the car playing a crucial supporting role - Automotive Lifestyle photography is at its best.