Whenever I go on vacation to a foreign country, one of the things I love doing the most is carspotting. There is the excitement and thrill of never really knowing what car might just be around the corner. It can be an exotic supercar such as the likes of a Pagani or simply just the car of your dreams. Often, you only have a few seconds to snap up a photo before the car goes on its merry way. If you find it simply parked however, then I guess it’s your lucky day.   

Though carspotting may look easy, it is actually more difficult than it seems. Where do you look for cars? How do you even shoot something that only for a split second? Well, read on.

Below we list down five steps on how you could improve your chances of carspotting and shooting cars abroad.

Car Spotting 101: Shooting on foreign soil

1. Only bring what is necessary

If you are going abroad for a vacation, then there is really no need to bring all your camera gear with you. Hauling a lot of gear around could easily tire you. It could also be cumbersome to walk around with that much gear too, especially if you have to lug a tripod and a Pelican. Personally, I would suggest one camera body together with a lens of choice. This will allow you to not only take photos of cars but also the scenery as well.

Of course, there is no stopping you if you really want to bring a complete set of lenses to go with multiple camera bodies. More so, you can also forgo bringing a camera at all. Smartphones nowadays have cameras capable of shooting decently.

Car Spotting 101: Shooting on foreign soil

2. Do your research

As with most countries, car enthusiasts often meet at certain locations at a certain time. Rather than taking your chance out on the streets, you can actually look up where and when they hang out. There is no harm in asking on social media pages to see if a meet is happening around the same time you’ll be in the area. More often than not, they’ll be more than willing to help fellow car enthusiasts out.

Apart from the local car scene, you can also look up the addresses of notable garages, tuning shops, and dealerships. Doing so allows you to plan a day of visiting these said shops, and knowing where to go next.

Car Spotting 101: Shooting on foreign soil

3. Be respectful to the cars and their owners

Let’s face it, not everyone will love the attention their car receives. Depending on the owner, some prefer that their cars be not made public online. Others – such as those I encountered while in Japan and Hong Kong – ask that their license plates be blurred out before the photos are posted. However, there will always be a select few who will ask that you do not take photos. That said, we should respect the owner’s decisions should he/she have any requests as these are not our own cars.

Should there be a car that piques you interest, try looking for the owner. There is no harm in asking for more details or if you could take a photo. In fact, some owners would gladly to entertain your questions about their cars, should language not be a barrier.

Do remember however the same etiquettes of being at a car meet applies even when you are shooting abroad.

Car Spotting 101: Shooting on foreign soil

4. Pay attention to your surroundings

One of the thrills of carspotting involves actually getting that perfect shot. Being aware with your surroundings gives you an advantage whether a car is coming or not. Supercars, together with modified cars, are often noisier compared to a standard vehicle. You will probably hear them coming way before you see them. So once you do, better get ready.

When using public transport, try to look around as well. There might be some nice cars – be it parked or passing by – or shops you haven’t heard on the way to your destination. Should you have the time, it won’t hurt to go down and take a look around.

Car Spotting 101: Shooting on foreign soil

5. Practice makes perfect

When you first start carspotting, don’t be discouraged if the photos don’t come out perfect. The art of carspotting is tough, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t become good at it. During your stay abroad, continually practice taking photos even with some of the more regular cars. As with most things, practice really does make perfect. Keep on shooting and you might just end up with some wallpaper-worthy photos.

Car Spotting 101: Shooting on foreign soil

Like most things, carspotting also depends on luck. Sometimes you might not even see anything interesting during your whole stay. As such, you can always try again on your next vacation abroad. In the meantime, you can practice carspotting locally. That way, you can be more prepared the next time you’re heading to a foreign country.