Isn't that a great car picture? That's my shot of the Volkswagen NCC Concept at the Detroit Auto Show. Which leads me into my rant of the day, and I sure hope the automakers are reading: why is it you folks never think about how we're supposed to take pictures of your car?
For those who have never seen how we cover an auto show, it's like this. Each company has a stage, where it brings out the latest-and-greatest models so we can all get photos and videos of it being displayed. Naturally, the best shots are from straight across from the stage, but there are hundreds of photographers, videographers and journalists, and only so much space in which to put them. Most of us are to the left or the right of the stage, because that's the only thing that's left. And unfortunately, in their infinite wisdom, the folks who design these so-called "reveals" don't seem to realize this.
When I got to the Volkswagen booth, all of the full-frontal spaces were taken, and so I managed to get front-row at the very edge of the stage, figuring I'd get a perfect shot of the side view when the car drove out. But then Volkswagen revealed its strategy: it would bring out dancers, who would move panels around to "frame" the car from straight on. If you were one of the lucky minority standing directly opposite the car, you got your shot. If you were anywhere else, you got a version of my photo.
It isn't just props. When the car comes out, someone stands beside it to describe the vehicle. But rather than think 180-degrees, he thinks straight-on, and so he inevitably positions himself beside one of the front fenders, and stays there. That's fine if you're on the side he's not. If you gambled and picked the wrong side, you simply can't get a shot of the car.
Automakers, listen up: think full circle. Think about how all of us are going to get a shot of your car. If you want props, put them well behind our field of vision. If you're going to stand on stage, move around the car halfway through your presentation, so the other side of the room can get a clear shot too. And if you absolutely have to put all your executives up front -- and I can't figure out why, since they've already seen the vehicle, and they're taking up spots where we could put more journalists in prime locations -- then brief them on the fact that several hundred media people are standing behind them trying to get shots, and perhaps they could refrain from doing anything to block our cameras.
We're just trying to help sell your car for you. Please, give some thought to what it takes for us to do that.