First and foremost, we here at CheekyMINIs.com want you to know that this is a place that abounds with love for MINIs. And we want to give MINI drivers everywhere a place to share and show off photos of their MINIs. We do not discriminate against any MINI, regardless of color, model, age, country of origin, or preferred gender pronoun. That being said, this is a curated photo site, and we’re looking for the most visually interesting photos of MINIs we can find. It doesn’t matter to us if your MINI has no mods or upgrades, what matters is that you present your MINI in its best light. And as Pro Photographers, we want to maintain a quality standard for photos. So I’m scribbling out a little help doc here for anyone who might be struggling to take good photos of their MINI. I hope this is helpful, and that the photos you take of your MINI end up nestled within our hallowed pages…or some such.
At one time, the photos being submitted to us were way too small — ridiculously tiny — like a drivers license photo or postage stamp. Now, it seems like we’re getting the extreme opposite: Full-frame photos, 6000 pixels on the long edge. Gosh! People. We’re not printing billboards here. If you don’t have a good grip on photo resizing, don’t fret, there are actually Free Image Resizers on the Internet. How do I find them? Search for “Free Image Resizer”. Et voilà! Once you’re at the controls of the Free Image Resizer, just upload your photo, size it to 2000 pixels on the longest edge, and download it in .jpg or .png format.
When to Shoot
Direct sunlight (without cloud cover) is not typically good for photography in general. It can cause glare, and intense shadows so dark that you can’t distinguish certain colors, unless you use a Neutral Density filter, but I’m not getting into that here. So, if possible, shoot your MINI during the hour just after sunrise, or during the hour-ish after sunset. Both time frames are known as ‘Golden Hour’ or ‘Magic Hour’’, and the light during these times is amazing for photos. Avoid noon on any day. High noon is for gunfights, not photo shoots. If midday is your only option, use trees or bridges to give your MINI some shade.
Another annoyance can be “dappled” light. This usually happens when you’re under a tree, or a structure with gaps in the surface, like trussing on a bridge. Avoid this kind of light, unless you know how to use it properly, and you’re exposing the shot manually. If you don’t, you can end up with overexposed streaks or spots, because your camera’s auto exposure (AE) feature can’t cope with the extreme disparity in light. A good bet is to shoot on an overcast day when clouds will diffuse the sunlight, and prevent extreme exposure problems.
Junk in the Scene
Be aware of what’s on-set with your MINI. Before you start shooting, scan the scene for stuff you wouldn’t want in a photo, like garbage bins, water hoses, ladders, and curious onlookers, and remove them if it’s possible. I shouldn’t have to say this, but, don’t try to carry any humans out of the scene. You’ll make them unhappy, and it’s also considered assault.
Many people don’t seem to see power poles or power lines. I guess because they’re everywhere and seem unavoidable. But in a photo, power poles either look like they’re spearing the car, or growing out of it. So if you can avoid this situation by moving your car a few feet, or changing your shooting angle a tad, do it. It will elevate your photo more than you might realize.
Croppy Crop Crop
We do accept both horizontal and vertical photos. But to maintain the fancy schmancy look of our website, the first photo in all of our galleries is a horizontal photo. So, if you only submit a single photo, and it’s vertical, and it’s already tightly cropped, you most likely won’t make it onto the site. The reason is, we won’t be able to pull a horizontal crop from your photo. So do the unthinkable, and turn your phone sideways when you photograph your MINI. Leave a little lead space (in front), and dead space (behind) to allow for the photo to be cropped.
Everybody’s got an Angle (or maybe not)
Let’s keep this simple. If you’re not sure exactly where to stand when you photograph your MINI, just remember every car looks good from a three-quarter angle. Pick a corner, and shoot it from a 45-degree angle. You’ll get it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see the image below.
How Wide is too Wide?
Now, I like wide angle shots myself. In fact I shot stylish wide angle and forced perspective group shots, like a boss, for many years as a Wedding Photographer. But I have to say this: If your camera/phone has a 0.5x focal length setting, like my iPhone 13, and you don’t know how to avoid pincushion distortion on your subject, or how to fix it, just don’t use the 0.5x setting. It’s a 13mm focal length equivalent (Android is 12mm equiv.), and it will definitely distort your subject (your MINI), and no MINI wants fat quarter panels or a bulging belt line. I recommend using the 0.5x if you want to shoot interiors of your MINI, otherwise, just use the 1x focal length setting on your phone. It’s about a 26mm equivalent which is in the middle of the range you’re looking for. Speaking of focal range…
Using a dSLR Camera
Although most people use their phone to take photos these days, some people prefer a dSLR (digital Single Lens Reflex camera). If you’re shooting with a dSLR, use something like a 17-50mm, or a 24-70mm lens. These lenses are good for street photography, and give you a good wide angle up to a medium portrait range (for cars). Also, 35mm and 50mm lenses are pretty popular for automotive photography, so you’re safe in that range. BTW, you can also find lens adapters that give you different focal ranges for your camera/phone. Just Google it.
Using tilts is an acquired skill, and I’m not giving a class on it here. I will say that I see photos with arbitrary tilts all over the place, and they don’t always have a “positive effect.” Done right, a “Dutch tilt” (or oblique tilt) can generate psychological tension in a photo. It’s great for creating motion and emotion in photos of parked cars. If NOT done right, it just makes us tilt our head like a dog, so our brain can reorient the horizon, and make everything safe again. So, if you don’t know how to use tilts, just avoid them. There’s nothing wrong with a linear perspective and a flat horizon line.
Alas, Some will remain in Darkness
If after reading this, rudimentary photography techniques still elude you, just use this website as a source of inspiration. There are plenty of well-composed photos here that may help inspire you to capture better photos of your beloved MINI.
Dreadful News for Some
Ok…sigh…some people might find this cruel, in our current “attention seeking” society, so, brace yourself. CheekyMINIs is a site that features (MINI) cars – not people, or pets for that matter. I know! Please don’t have a seizure, and please don’t submit photos of you posing with your Mini. We know it may seem harsh, but we also know you’ll survive.
If You’re Still Alive –
We hope this page was helpful to you as you go forth and photograph your MINI in all its splendor. We also hope that the resulting photos will surpass your wildest expectations…and ours.