Shoot Report: Night Portrait of a Taxi Driver

In Portrait by Jim Harmer

light painting photography

Taxi Cab Portrait (click to enlarge)  – Jim Harmer

If you follow @ImprovePhoto on Twitter, you may have seen the photo featured on this page two weeks ago when I tweeted my shoot.  A few of you asked questions about the shoot, so I thought it would be an interesting article for today.

First of all, I was a bit disappointed with the shoot.  The cab driver only gave me about 15 minutes for the shoot of his car and he only wanted to stand in for a couple photos.  This made the whole experience… difficult.  I think I could have perfected this shot with more time, but the shot still turned out okay.

As soon as I started shooting, I tried about 5 different angles to decide which composition was best.  I used a wide-angle lens to draw the viewer into the photo and I got very close to the car's headlights to make that the central focal point of the shot.  I also stopped down my aperture to f/16 so I could get the streaky flare coming from the headlights.

Once I had my initial shot set up, I started light painting.  In all, I took about 20 photos in the short time period I had to take the shot.  The photo below is a single-exposure of the scene so you can contrast it with the final composition that is featured at the top of the page.  I think the light painting really added a lot of flavor to the photo.

Is this the best picture I've ever taken?  No, but it was a lot of fun.  One of these days I'd like to re-do this shoot and see if I could get it right.

About the Author

Jim Harmer

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Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast. More than a million photographers follow him on social media, and he has been listed at #35 in rankings of the most popular photographers in the world. He blogs about how to start an internet business on