I’ve always been a car nut, since I was 15 years old — when I bought my first car (with my own money): a 4-door 1991 Nissan Sentra XE (1.6 liter, 5 speed).
As an American, I’ve always seen the car as a symbol of freedom. I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
My dream car which I bought when I was 18 years old: 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R (with legendary SR20DE engine).
Anyways, now I’m on the road, and to be frank, I don’t really care to drive or own a car anymore. I prefer to take Uber and walk.
But, I still love and find inspiration in car design, and car photography.
I love the angles, shapes, forms, and curves of cars — whenever I’m walking on the streets, I’m mostly looking at cars.
I don’t care to own a fancy sports car anymore, but I can appreciate it like sculpture. I don’t even need to own it to appreciate it.
I’ve been studying a lot of design from Lamborghini and McLaren, and love the design, shapes, forms, and photos:
1. When taking pictures of cars or any objects, seek to integrate diagonals, clean backgrounds, and unique perspectives (high Perspective looking down):
2. Simple pop of color
To advertise, make sure it passes the “small thumbnail test” — most people are going to be looking at the pictures on a small phone. Can they see the colors, and abstract shapes and forms?
Simple lesson: simple clean white background, with a pop of color, with simple geometric forms.
Good car design is all about proportions. Apparently Aston Martin uses the Golden proportion when designing their cars.
When do you integrate curves, instead of diagonals?
I think the ideal car design is a combination of curves and straight lines.
In photography, try to integrate both curves and straight diagonal lines.
5. Color combinations
- Red and black (symbolic of power)
- Blue: more calm, relaxed
- Yellow: bright and loud, like a bumblebee
- Lime green: screams for attention — look at me! (We don’t really see the lime green color in nature much — thus it is unusual)
- Orange: bright and juicy, like orange fruit.
- Black: dark and mysterious
- White: clean, pristine and pure.
6. Car Design
My favorite designs:
- Porsche: Classic, timeless // subtle iterative design over time. More subtle evolution of design — but stays mostly the same, like Leica and Ricoh
- Rolls Royce: big, boxy, and powerful.
- Lamborghini: egotistic, obnoxious, and not embarrassed to say it
- McLaren: racing DNA, light, fast.
7. Why cars?
Ultimately, the way car companies are able to sell us expensive cars is because they are selling us a FANTASY — a fantasy of freedom, exploration, power, and wealth.
But unfortunately — no car is going to make you more masculine, powerful, or add inches to your… ahem.
Also, a lesson I’ve learned shooting all the expensive cameras out there:
All cameras are more similar than dissimilar.
With sports cars, I’m sure Top Gear guys know:
All cars are more similar than dissimilar.
It is a psychological problem we have — we exaggerate differences more than amplify commonalities.
Ultimately I still appreciate cars, and car design — for the designs, proportion, marketing language, the symbolism of them. I like cars like sculpture.
Don’t get suckered to wanting to buy expensive cars, to think it will make you “happy”. I have more fun sketching cars and appreciating their aesthetics, instead of owning them:
To study more design, look at classic car design, like Rolls Royce and see how their designs have evolved over the years. Look at the long body designs in the Great Gatsby era of the 1920s— the long hood bonnets, and the curvaceous designs. A lot of sexy cars, probably have the same proportions as sexy curvaceous women.