December 5, 2023
TCN Interviews with Austin Smith
Immerse yourself in our interview with Austin Smith, a passionate automotive photographer from Northern California. Discover his path into the realm of car photography, gather essential tips, and deepen your appreciation for this dynamic and thrilling field.

From the Northern California Bay Area, Austin Smith represents the epitome of turning a lifelong passion into a professional pursuit. Growing up in a family deeply enamored with cars, Austin's journey into automotive photography was almost predestined. His foray into this field, sparked by the experience of photographing his first car, a 2015 Camaro RS, showcases how personal interests can beautifully merge with professional ambitions. Austin's story is a vibrant narrative of how family influences and early experiences can significantly shape one's career path and creative vision.

BMW M2 Competition Photographed by Austin Smith

TCN x Austin Smith

In our interview, we'll delve into Austin Smith's unique perspective on automotive photography. We'll uncover how Austin masterfully captures both the mechanical allure and artistic charm in his images. What methods does he apply at the outset of new endeavors, and what obstacles does he navigate in the niche world of high-end car photography? Austin will divulge his personal approach and offer advice for aspiring photographers eager to venture into the realm of automotive imagery.

For a glimpse into Austin Smith's remarkable portfolio, be sure to visit his Instagram page

Austin Smith Instagram sceenshot.

TCN x Austin Smith Interview

1. "Can you share with us how you first got interested in automotive photography? What was the first car you photographed that made you think, 'This is it, this is what I want to do'?" 

What first got me interested in cars was my family. Everyone in my family is a car enthusiast so it is something that I have always been around. The first car that I photographed that made me very interested in automotive photography was funny enough my first car, a 2015 Camaro RS.

Austin Smith
Austin Smith

2. "In your opinion, what makes a great automotive photo stand out? Are there specific angles, lighting conditions, or environments that you think work best? How would you describe your photography style currently?"

I would personally say that interesting foregrounds, angles, and a good use of lighting whether it be natural or added is huge in making a great automotive photo. Personally I love shooting the most in slightly overcast skies, in the mountains, or by the ocean. I think that my style is pretty light on the editing side but enhances what is already there such as lines in the car, colors in the background, etc. OEM+ if I were to put it into car terms haha.

Pagani Huayra BC
Pagani Huayra BC Photographed by Austin Smith

Ferrari Enzo
Ferrari Enzo Photographed by Austin Smith

3. "What has been your most challenging photo shoot and why? Were there any unexpected obstacles or memorable moments?" 

I don't have any one photoshoot that sticks out as most challenging but I would say the most challenging in general are photoshoots in high traffic areas with either lots of people around like popular landmarks, or lots of cars passing through. 

Porsche 991 GT2 RS
Porsche 991 GT2 RS Photographed by Austin Smith

Porsche 992 GT3
Porsche 992 GT3 Photographed by Austin Smith

4. "Camera aside, is there a specific piece of gear you can’t live without?” 

100% need a circular polarizer.

Ferrari Monza SP2
Ferrari Monza SP2 Photographed by Austin Smith

5. "In an industry that's always evolving, how do you keep your work innovative and maintain a unique edge?” 

I think by putting together very interesting photo shoots that have not been done yet. Usually they just start off as an idea like putting Caretakers Collection Maserati MC12 on the beach. From my research, that had not been done yet until we did it. Or bringing the MC12 to In-N-Out, that is pretty fun as well. So pretty much things that have not been done yet or are quite out of the usual.

Maserati MC12
Maserati MC12 Photographed by Austin Smith

Maserati MC12
Maserati MC12 Photographed by Austin Smith

Maserati MC12
Maserati MC12 Photographed by Austin Smith

6. “Do you find there is a competitive element to automotive photography or do you see it as more collaborative?” 

I think that a lot of people see automotive photography as competitive but I strongly dislike that. My most fun and successful photoshoots were with photographer friends. I think you can get a lot more accomplished by sharing ideas and collaborating. To me that is where this industry thrives and I hope to see more collaborations in the future. 

Ford GT
Ford GT Photographed by Austin Smith

Bugatti Veyron
Bugatti Veyron Photographed by Austin Smith

7. "Looking back at your career so far, what advice would you give to your younger self when you were just starting?"

I would say to be more creative in exploring with angles. For the first few years I feel like I used the same 5 or 6 angles because they just worked. But now I try to aim for things I have yet to see with heavy elements of foregrounds, backgrounds, and the environment or colors around the car. 

Porsche 992 GT3's
Porsche 992 GT3's Photographed by Austin Smith

 8. “Do you have a favorite photo? Either one you’ve taken yourself or one taken by someone else? If so can you tell us about what makes that photo so special?” 

I think my favorite photo is one I took of an F40. The photo itself isn’t really anything that crazy but it holds that top spot because of what it means to me. I have always loved the F40, it has been my favorite car for many years yet I had never actually seen one in person. I was so determined to photograph this car and see it. It felt like at the time shooting that car was a huge tick off my photoshoot bucket list and it was just a really great feeling. Now I've shot 4 or 5 of them but that first F40 shoot meant a ton.

 Ferrari F40.
Austin Smith with Ferrari F40

9. "Finally, if you could have a dream photo shoot of your dream garage with any three cars from any era, which cars would you choose?”

It would have to be in Lake Como at some old Villa with a few of my favorite classics such as a 300SL, a Ferrari 250 GTO, and a Shelby A/C Cobra. 

Shelby A/C Cobra
Shelby A/C Cobra Photographed by Austin Smith

Wrapping Up

We're thankful to Austin Smith for dedicating time to share his experiences and expertise in automotive photography with us. His path, defined by intense passion and technical skill, is not only motivating but also filled with valuable lessons. Austin's ability to depict the grace and power of automobiles in his photography is extraordinary. We appreciate the knowledge he has shared about his art and look forward to seeing his future endeavors as he further elevates the field of automotive photography.

Get Your Hands on The TCN App

Check out more of Austin's work and download the TCN app today and immerse yourself in a world where automotive beauty meets high-end technology. Stay tuned for our regular updates, and let's drive into the future of automotive enthusiasm together!

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