One thing that every car nut wants sometime in his life is to get his car in a magazine. It's the ultimate achievement for many, and it doesn't come easy. The problem is that magazines only have a finite number of pages, so unless you've got fat bank, mad fab chops, or something really over the top, the chances are slim. We feel your pain, and we're here to help. For this year's photo contest, we're going publish every single car that our readers send to us. We're not going to discriminate against any brand, build style, cost, color, performance level, or model year-everybody gets in, period. Street rods, customs, muscle cars, late models, as long as it's American iron with four wheels, you're in.
We'll be publishing the photo contest results in the January issue, the same as last year. And since putting a bunch of your cars on the cover was so successful last year, we plan on doing that again too. We're planning our January cover shoot for the second week of September, and will be inviting some of the more photogenic cars to participate, so keep your calendars open.
Our 2007 contest winner, Keith...
Our 2007 contest winner, Keith Kanak of Scottsdale, AZ, shot Art Sousek's '70 Olds 442 with model Amanda Pille. Keith had participated in two prior PHR photo contests as well. Keith, a home builder by trade, is now a regular freelance photography contributor to PHR.
Every contest has rules, and our rules are designed to put your car in the best possible light, so please follow them (and the photo tips too). Since space is limited, we can only accept one car per entry, and one entry per person. We cannot return entries, and by sending them to us, you are agreeing to let us publish them. If your photo is really good, we may even use it for a calendar, but we're making no promises. You're also agreeing to let Nitto Tires (the contest sponsor) use your photos in their material. If you're not ok with that, you can stop reading here. So here are the basic rules:
* Send in your complete entry by September 1, 2009. The address is: Source Interlink Media, Attn: PHR Photo Contest, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870. Note that we cannot take submissions via email, or verify that your submission arrived safely.
* Provide the information listed below in the "Entry Form Data Box". We'll be writing about your car, and if you don't tell us anything (or if we can't read it) we can't write about it.
* In addition to the Entry Form Data, you must write a one-page cover letter telling your story. Tell us about yourself, what you love about your car, how you use (or abuse) it, your car's mods, performance, dyno numbers, timeslip numbers, or just a funny story about the car or your photo shoot. Using a model? We need her info as well. Please keep your letter to one page.
Photographer Robert McGaffin...
Photographer Robert McGaffin snapped Craig Mengarelli's '66 Nova to nail the win in our 2006 Photo contest, and as a result, has a thriving automotive photography career shooting covers for Popular Hot Rodding, Hot Rod, and many other automotive titles.
* Send us exactly five (5) photos of your car, no more, no less. These photos need to be in digital "jpg" form, and have a minimal resolution of 2,000 pixels high by 3,000 pixels wide. Burn these photos on a CD, and provide matching prints on photo print paper. Please note that we won't be publishing any photos of the rear of your car, or photos that chop off any part of the car, so don't waste any of your five chances on that. Only digital images of complete, running cars will be accepted.
* Entries MUST be submitted by the photographers, and it is preferred, but not required, that the photographer also be the car owner. (Note that all prizes are awarded to the photographer, not the car owner.) Only the photographer can legally grant the right to publish photos, so if you're not the photographer, we can't use the photos.
* Prizes are awarded on the merits of the photography, not the car. That said, a really junky car is far more difficult to photograph than a nice car, but go for it if that's all you have. (Hey, we promised we'd print all of them!)
* If you have a hot rod and don't send us an entry, you forfeit your right to legitimately complain about magazines that don't publish regular-guy cars, or that only print '69 Camaros!
* What if your car was in the contest in previous years? This is one case where we can't guarantee your photo will run. We suggest you pick a buddy's car, that way the contest stays fresh, you still get in, and have the same chance to win. While we're on the subject, if you sent your car to another magazine, and we catch that, we'll probably toss it.
The winner of the Fifth Annual...
The winner of the Fifth Annual PHR Photo Contest sponsored by Nitto will get a free set of four Nitto tires in the size and type of their choosing (provided Nitto offers that size). We're really hot on the NT01 R-Compound, and have this take-no-prisoners DOT tire on two of our project cars.
This year, Nitto Tires has stepped up big time to sponsor the PHR Photo Contest. To the winner will go a free set of four Nitto tires in any style and any size Nitto makes. Nitto makes a variety of high-performance tires, and it's especially fortunate that Nitto specializes in sizes for the muscle cars we love. The winning photographer will be able to choose any tire, from the cutting-edge NT01 R-compound (on our g/28 '76 Camaro, and Street Sweeper '68 Chevelle), to the NT555R Extreme Drag Radial (on our '75 Laguna Project Talladega). If a street tire is what you're looking for, Nitto makes the super popular NT555, the high-tech Invo, and now the ultra high-performance summer NT05. Need a truck tire for your 4x4? Choose a set of Mud Grapplers for those off-road excursions. We will notify the winner by September 10, 2009.
The Runner Up will get a collection of car care products from Mothers, which regularly sponsors the Mothers Picture Perfect Award each month in our Hometown Hot Rodding column. The top 20 finishers (including the Winner and Runner Up) will get a limited-edition PHR Photo Contest Finalist T-shirt, and some other goodies, like decals, license plates, and a copy of our January issue.
Now get that car polished, recharge those camera batteries, grab your honey (don't forget the Daisy Dukes!), and start snapping!
At the bare minimum, your photos should be well composed, in focus, sharp, and well lit. The entire car should be in the photo, other cars should not be in the shot, and you should not be aiming the camera at the rear of the car. We reserve the right to discard any entry that doesn't have these basic attributes. The only way to check the focus and sharpness is to look at the image on the screen after you shoot it-take the time to magnify the image to check it out areas that should be sharp, such as the grill or bumper. This is a photo contest, so the quality of the photo is important! Here are some other helpful tips that score points with us:
* Try shooting from a different vantage point other than eye level. Shooting from above, or from ground level can show off the sexy lines and stance better. Eye-level is good too, just mix it up some. If you shoot low, we want to see all four wheels. If your car has strong graphic elements, like hood stripes, show them off.
* Try shooting at twilight and position the car so that you can see a sharp horizon line in the side of the car. This will show off nice paint and body work, and can make even a dull color like gray, black, or white look exciting. Experiment and don't give up.
* Use reflectors to bounce sun light into the grill of the car. Reflectors can be bought, or made out of aluminum foil and cardboard. An off-camera flash can also do the same job. If you're unsure whether a flash helps or hurts, try it both ways.
* Use a tripod to stabilize your camera-it really helps. You can also use the hood of another car, the ground, or a railing if you don't have a tripod.
* Don't adjust the color, contrast, or brightness of an image to sweeten it up after the fact. Take the right exposure to start with-we'll know the difference. If you use Photoshop for anything, you better be good at it.
* Find a unique or beautiful background for your car. That means not your ordinary driveway. A park, beach, historical downtown area, fairground, industrial park, run-down industrial area, an empty country road, airfield taxiway, or tarmac can be a great spot. Keep off the grass, dirt, and the gravel. Stay away from painted parking lot lines.
* Experiment with different exposures-many great digital photos are ruined due to under-exposure. (If you've got an SLR, try covering the eyepiece with your hand to prevent stray light from causing an incorrect meter reading.)
* Bring friends to help with reflectors, flashes, direct traffic, to move extraneous debris, and to help you move the car. You'll quickly find yourself in over your head if you work alone.
* Bring your cutie, and we'll make her a star! Hot rods and cute girls go together like summer and baseball. Swimwear is ok, we just ask that you keep things under control. Like last year, we will have a special ladies-only section. If the car is your girlfriend, we require her to be completely covered with paint.