According to You: 5 of the best architectural backdrops for car photos

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Brandan Gillogly

When Hagerty senior editor Sajeev Mehta asked those in our Community what kinds of venues they like to use when photographing their vehicles, we know exactly what he had in mind. Sajeev is working on a design-focused piece and searched for the proper architectural/vehicular pairing to make the right statement. When it was your turn to select backdrop buildings for classic cars, you delivered plenty of great suggestions. We pored through the comments and picked our five favorites.

Aircraft hangar

best car photography background backdrop aircraft hanger
Hagerty Community member Rushmore

This suggestion by Hagerty community member Rushmore suits their Corvette Stingray quite nicely. The clean lines of the building aren’t too distracting and the connotation of long-distance travel is a match for a grand touring car like the Corvette. It’s a fitting ride for a pilot (or astronaut) and also the perfect vehicle to drive once you get to your destination. Small airports are often a hub for auto enthusiasts as well, as there’s plenty of real estate to park a car under each wing of a plane in a tee hangar.

Mid-century buildings for mid-century rides

best car photography background backdrop mid-century
Hagerty community member Continental57

For community member Continental57, a San Francisco Bay Area home designed by Joseph Eichler proved a great backdrop and a virtual time capsule. Eichler homes can also be found in Los Angeles and Orange County. Palm Springs is perhaps the mecca of mid-century home design, and a recent Hagerty Drivers Club magazine feature visited the desert community with some of Detroit’s best-finned cruisers—but of course, there are plenty of other locations and designers that embraced a similar aesthetic. Heck, even one of Austin Texas’ most well-loved burger chains is building new restaurants in fabulous ’60s styles that would complement a well-chromed cruiser.

Race tracks

best car photography background backdrop race track
Community member Paulk692

Community member Paulk692 was able to get his Camaro Brickyard 400 pace car on a retired race track and use a pedestrian bridge to frame the shot. It’s not easy to pose your vehicle with a recognizable portion of track signage or building in the frame, but it can be worth the effort. The Camaro made it on track because it’s one of the few remaining elements of an otherwise deserted and repurposed road course. It may be difficult or impossible to make it onto an active track unless it’s a special event (or if you happen to be the slightly manaic fellow who built it), but if the opportunity arises, take advantage.

Auto shops

best car photography background backdrop hot rod shop
Community member Happygav

Multiple readers suggested dealerships or hot rod shops, and we’ve got to agree that these make excellent choices. Whether it’s a race car with the hood up or a vehicle that’s still under construction, a shop atmosphere can lend a lot to the photo. It’s also a vehicle’s natural environment, helping make the scene more organic—or at least as organic as a 3000-pound machine can be. Hagerty community member Happygav gave his four-eyed Fox-body the black-and-white treatment in front of a well-worn hot rod shop sign.

Vintage gas stations

best car photography background backdrop vintage gas station
Hagerty community member HondaCollector

The parallel lines of this restored Shell Station in Winston Salem, North Carolina, proved to be a fitting spot for a Hagerty community member to photograph their Chrysler Crossfire. The Crossfire has a bit of Art Deco flavor that just looks right in front of a gas station from the 1930s. Unfortunately, this is the only surviving Shell station of its kind, since the remaining seven built in this fashion in Winston Salem are gone. However, there are still plenty of great filling station backdrops to be found in small towns all over the place; you may just have to venture off the beaten path to find them.

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