A Professional’s Guide To Truck Photography

Posted on Jul 20, 2017

Truck photography is a huge aspect of commercial photography and we are only too thrilled to receive these briefs on our desks. We got Gareth Gilmour to chat about his passion for capturing these industrial giants and how he goes about it.

“There is something raw and emotional about truck photography, which comes from the sheer size of some of the rigs we are shooting. But it’s also the inspiration we draw from the locations we need to explore and surround ourselves with, in order to present these shining examples of human engineering in their most picturesque and proudest forms.”

A Professional's Guide To Truck Photography | eimage

Location, Location, Location

Gareth’s experience in the industry has afforded him a few ideas of South Africa’s greatest locations, but as time and frantic business hours would have it, most of our customers’ trucks are needed for urgent use on their regular, respective routes. This means our teams have limited time to relocate rigs to prime locations.

These kind of restrictions result in us having to get out to the areas where our client’s rigs are operational and then scour the vicinity for places that are suitable to shoot in. A lot of professional photographers deal with these circumstances by bringing elements into their post production to help depict a scene. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and we are more than happy to call upon our post production magicians when conditions are not quite perfect. But as a team, the eimage professional photography crew prefer to shoot photographs so that we need as little post production as possible.

Commercial Photography | Truck Photography | eimage

This is when we turn Kyalami into the Karoo Desert or Boksburg into a glittering stretch of national highway. Our choice in angles, locations and light are crucial to achieving these goals and meeting the briefs for our clients.

Depending on the brief, we might need to focus heavily on location to generate the right appeal, or it might be a case of capturing branding or specific elements of the rig and machinery, which might not rely on any specific setting.

Truck Photography Logistics

Timing And Light

It almost goes without saying, but the time of day that you select to shoot is crucial. All professional photographers are different, but for us, we prefer to shoot late in the afternoon through to an hour or so after sunset. The afternoon gives you a longer opportunity to shoot than sunrise, but sunrise can also produce some exceptional results if you work quickly in the magic moments of light.

Depending on the desired effect, an array of equipment can be incorporated in order to make sure the finished product we produce is something that will catch the viewer’s eye. Exceptional, natural light is always our first choice, but sometimes a scene requires a little bit of a boost. In these situations, we use battery operated flashes or constant lighting equipment to paint or enhance the scene with light.

The Right Lighting For Truck Photography

Movement And Angles

We often receive briefs that require us to shoot images of trucks on the move, which is always good fun but requires proper planning and execution. This is where location is crucial and we need to know we have enough space to drive a decent duration before having to turn around or stop. We will be shooting from another moving vehicle in front of the truck or next to it. This requires us to travel in the opposite lane or emergency lane, which – as you can imagine – also requires that there is no traffic. These shoots are nothing without proper planning so that both the truck driver and the lead vehicle are aware of their respective requirements. We go through extensive safety briefings and communication signal explanations before we start up the engines so that everyone is on the same page when we hit the road.

Another major consideration when setting up truck shoots is whether or not there is space for the rig to turn around. As you can well imagine, these machines are huge and a three-point turn is not quite the same as it is in a car!

Movement in truck photography

We get to the site at least two hours prior to when we need to shoot so that there’s ample time to go through the motions, ensure everyone is briefed and make sure we get our intended shot list down.

After that, some of the more common considerations before a shoot even takes place are as follows:

  • Have we surveyed the location thoroughly and written up an intended shot list with all locations prepared?
  • Are we moving in the right direction to take full advantage of optimal light?
  • Have we met the team in advance, are they prepared and does everyone know where they need to be and at what time?
  • Is the driver ready and aware of what he or she needs to do?
  • Has the selected area got sufficient space? Because the bigger the rig the slower it is, and it may take a long time to get to an optimal speed for the required photographic effect
  • Is there traffic in the area and what kind of traffic control will be required to help the trucks turn, gain speed etc?

Getting the right angle in moving photography

Equipment For A Typical Truck Photography Shoot

We always make sure we have more gear than we think we need because the logistics around truck photography don’t give you much time for potential gear failure. It’s also near impossible to manage an entire commercial photography shoot on your own, so a lot of forward planning is involved to get the full team on board. Whenever we set out to photograph these beautiful rigs, this is the basis of what we need:

  • One assistant photographer at a minimum, but two is preferable. Their roles would be in the following areas: as a driver, to help hold or move essential equipment, assist with traffic calming, communication and so forth
  • We need a minimum of two camera bodies on hand with a variety of different lenses from wide angle to telephoto
  • Battery operated lighting equipment. We usually opt for the most powerful and mobile equipment. Some of these rigs are massive, so we need a lot of equipment to light them up

You get the idea of why we find it so exciting to take on truck photography briefs and the cogs are already turning the moment we do.

Chat to us about your advertising or commercial photography needs and let’s see how we can make magic with your brand.

Shooting trucks for truck photography