The Unspoken rules about Car Spotting

“Alvaro Martínez” is a freelance writer who writes articles in his spare time and works making automotive reviews and many many more things


As we all know, car spotting is a side hobby of many car enthusiasts or photographers around the world. And although there isn’t a basic set of rules for car spotting written down anywhere… there’s still some unspoken rules that every young car enthusiast should take into account when they want to get their best pictures and show them to the world! 

The perfect picture always takes effort and some tweaking.

Picture from my Instagram @apm_carspot

One of the first rules I want to mention, is that the perfect picture always takes effort and a bit of tweaking. People all around the community usually like high quality shots and often get annoyed at blurry shots or awkward angles of photography. In order to get the perfect picture, the camera lens must focus well on the car you want to take a picture of. If the target is moving it’s important to keep your camera stable and keep focus on the camera objective, never be afraid to take more than 2 or more pictures and decide which shot you will be keeping.

Sometimes the small details like spoilers, badges or the like often get the attention of the enthusiasts. Although I don’t take shots of the details I often prefer a single or more pictures that will capture the car’s outline and presence, And although raw pictures that look good are something worthy of admiration it’s always good to learn how to improve a picture’s looks.

Dark pictures which barely allow you to see the car won’t attract attention, much less blurry moving shots as you tell them that you saw a rare Zonda F. Image editing programs like Photoshop or gimp are relatively easy to handle, Picasa can be a good choice for those who have yet to get a handle on either. It’s as well advisable to use watermarks In your shots if you don’t want your spots to be snagged by random car image pages on the internet or have people claim that they did the picture.

As for privacy matters… Number plates in public areas like the street must be blurred or erased from the picture you have taken, if you’re taking pictures at car shows there’s often no need to blur or censor the plates. Everybody loves an untouched shot but privacy is a right and as car spotter… you’re no exception!

 Basic boundaries and safety.

Picture from my Instagram @apm_carspot

How far to go when you want to take a picture of a nice car? To begin, I must mention that private areas like hotel parking lots or a home are often off-limits and no pictures must be taken in or outside the premises. After all remember that expensive vehicles are often the targets of thieves and you could be mistaken for a thug, wanting to spot the next target to steal.

In car shows or the street you really don’t have to worry about private areas since you’re pretty much doing nothing illegal. As for some more boundaries… Remember that crowding around the car is not acceptable, even when you want to get a good exhaust clip or a picture as it crawls through the street. Keep it to the sidewalk and take your shot from the safest place… Don’t forget to look where you walking and look both ways if you have to cross a road!

As for supercar parades or convoys, many enthusiasts will naturally try to follow the cars trying to get a perfect exhaust clip. Your run of the mill sporty hatch maybe can easily hit 180kph, but the stopping distances and handling of high performance vehicle greatly differs! Always keep a safe following distance and hands on the wheel, don’t use your phone! Have a dash mounted camera or have a passenger take photos/videos! Much less try to keep up with them or follow them to their homes!

As one last rule… I would like to highlight, either on the wild or at shows NEVER touch or lean on the cars, much less critiquize owner’s choices on styles or extras!

Every day is a good day for car spotting! Opportunities are out there!

Picture from my Instagram @apm_carspot

So… this is a Alpina B6 3.5… I certainly wasn’t expecting to come across it when I was walking towards a job interview! When I shown this spot to my local spotter group they were certainly both impressed and envious since they had been walking up and down the avenue last week and they were unlucky spotting anything worth photographing

I got to say as a car enthusiast… car spotting usually takes luck, patience and dedication. You can’t walk out of your home and be instantly greeted by a good photography opportunity, you can walk to places of wealth, the local docks or make your way to city avenues for a good chance… Every car spotting walk is both a good chance to spot something worth photographing and a good way to keep your body healthy one step at a time.

So… do you have any doubts or questions left? Ask on the comments below! I hope that this set of unspoken rules has been very useful to you! 


PS: If you want to check all of my car spotting pictures my IG account is right here!

Published in Car Guides

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David Olsen-Fabian
1 year ago

Love this post! I’m glad you mentioned NOT touching cars. I fully agree and whenever I lean to see the interior my arms are behind my back! There are some, few, that argue that you SHOULD touch the cars. NO, this is wrong. Someone may have spent 20+ hours detailing the car and don’t appreciate fingers oils on their paint. I had an 87 M6 I took to shows. I opened it open and let people see the white leather, the engine and trunk. I’d give a ride if asked. No need to touch it otherwise. I see lots of cars I have interest and will walk out of my way to see the subject. Again, arms behind my back as I lean to look. I’m always looking at the same thing … the driver’s position and instrumentation. Period. I don’t care about personal items and never even look at that stuff. When I do this it’s a glance so as not to be peering in someone else’s car. And when I do this it’s after looking at the outside so it’s rather obvious I’m just an auto enthusiast. I wouldn’t want people staring in my car either! A glance in a public space is okay. Starring is not. Don’t be creepy or rude.

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