While you may not know George Williams, there’s every chance you’ve seen his work. A photographer since the age of 14 (and a car fanatic since he could drive), Williams has been behind the lens of some of the most memorable visuals ever produced by Audi.
But he’s something of a social media specialist too, having amassed over 100,000 Instagram followers. Which is why we spent a day with him behind the scenes, using the A5 to learn how to shoot an Audi in its most Instagram-ready light. The shots you see here were all taken on a smartphone. No crew and absolutely no expensive cameras.
1. Know your destination
Location is to car photography what the chassis is to an A5: the frame holding all of that shapely content together. It therefore pays to have a destination in mind when you’re taking your shot. “Cars should be shot somewhere that makes you want to drive them,” says Williams. The same is true when it comes to interior shots: “You don’t want an overly busy background drawing attention away from the car.”
2. Compose yourself
Selecting the perfect setting is useless if you ignore composition. It’s what separates a top instagrammer from your average photographer. Consider what’s around your vehicle and how that might work in a frame. “Most of the time, cars should be shot at head height – it’s how they’re designed to be seen – but a lower angle can create a more heroic image,” says Williams. “Try not to have the car in the centre of the shot, unless you’re doing a front-on photo,” he adds. “At a three-quarter angle, just off centre, is better.”
3. Stand in your best light
‘British’ conditions don’t always allow for the best light, but too much sun can be a bad thing too. “‘Golden hour’ – the period a few hours before sunset – is the best time to shoot your car in natural light,” says Williams. “Walk around your vehicle to see what side looks nicest – check colours, reflections, and so on – then turn the car so the side you want to capture faces that way.” It’s certainly easier than roping an unwilling friend into being the ‘lighting guy’ for the day.
4. Reflect on what you’ve seen
You’ve buffed your bonnet to a mirror shine and it’s ready for action. You’ve found the perfect composition, the best angle and distance. But to your dismay, taking up half of the image is your own reflection. “You don’t want to see yourself in the car,” says Williams. “Experiment with your body height and distance and move your phone around to ensure you’re not casting a shadow across your Audi, and that you’re not visible in the metal.” Then play with what’s around you. “Reflections can sometimes make the image,” says Williams. “Your surroundings can look really cool when reflected in the car.” But that doesn’t include your face.
5. Look for the little details
We’re all about the bigger picture. But every Audi is packed with little details too. From the keen edges of the hood to the sharp symbols adorning it, the A5 is certainly ready for its close-up. “Close crops taken at interesting angles look great,” says Williams. “But pause before taking the shots and make sure everything is perfect. Put the seats up, adjust the mirrors, straighten the steering wheel and tyres, dust the badges.” When it comes to the scrutiny of Instagram feeds, even the littlest things make a big difference.