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How To Get Your Car In Car Craft

By , Photography by Car Craft Readers

"How do I get my car in the magazine?" It's the question most often heard by anyone even remotely associated with Car Craft. So much so that we'd be smart to reprint this article and carry it with us always.

We'd look like jerks if we answered the question by handing over a piece of paper and walking away, but we're pretty used to feeling like jerks when we're forced to tell some reader all the reasons his ride isn't exactly cover material. You might be able to avoid that disappointing conversation-or the bummer of sending stuff to Car Craft that never gets used-if you read this story. Learn it. And live it.

How To Get Into Readers' Pages
The easiest way to get into Car Craft is to have your car or letter in Readers' Pages. The single biggest reason people get their cars bounced out of contention for publishing is because their photos look like a bad acid trip. The "Photo Pointers" sidebar should give you a few clues. Beyond that, we're really not that picky. In fact, the lower-buck, the more average, the younger the builder, the better. Readers' Pages is for typical dudes and dudettes, not for stuffed-wallet, build-it-for-me slackers. However, we still keep the peeps open for the same clues in the "Top 10 Things We're Looking For" sidebar. We'd also dig it if readers got more creative with the photos-try action shots, get cruise-night photos, let's see some wheels-up homebuilt beaters. Got a wagon? Then stuff everyone you know in it and snap a shot. Send us outtakes from your wildest road trip. Upside-down, on fire-whatever. We just want a break from boredom. If you hadn't noticed that cars are for fun, you're holding the wrong magazine.

We'll never use your photos if you don't send 'em to us. We can use color or black-and-white prints or slides. Don't get fancy and send anything on disc. We can't use Polaroids, either. We're also too lame to accept photos over e-mail, so you're gonna have to whip out those dusty old postage stamps. Tell Uncle Sam to send it to:

Car Craft Readers' Pages
831 S. Douglas St
El Segundo, CA 90245

Photo Pointers

Big Glory: A Full Feature In Car Craft
Many readers aspire to have a full-blown photo spread on their car in Car Craft. How do you get it done? It's mostly a matter of luck and timing. Since we never have the budget to travel to your hometown to shoot the car, you'll have to come to us. That means attending an NMCA race (call 800/213-4883 for a '99 schedule) or one of Car Craft's own events (one in Panama City, Florida, in April '99 and another in St. Paul, Minnesota, in July '99-call 800/732-4227 to sign up). We also hit many independent shows throughout the country.

If we do cross paths at an event, we'll hunt you down and let you know if we want to shoot your car. We'll need about an hour of your time as we take you off-site to a photo location and shoot several rolls of film: We'll snap a few overall angles, plus the engine, interior, and other details. The less time you have to work with us while photographing your car, the less likely it is that it will appear in a future issue. Once the photo shoot is done, you get to keep the exclusive Car Craft license plate. You'll also need to fill out our lengthy tech sheet to tell us all about your ride. If you don't complete it thoroughly or don't get it back to us, you won't be in the magazine.

If it all comes together, you'll be a hero in the pages of CC. When? Good question. Some features are run soon after they're shot, others sit around for as long as a year before we use them. We never throw features away. You won't know until you see yourself in print.

Top 10 Things We're Looking For
1. Appallingly fast or killer-looking cars built for cheap.
2. Body styles and brands that aren't mainstream but that aren't too weird.
3. Wheelstands into the next zip code.
4. Super smooth bodywork with bright (not gaudy) colors, and no nekkid lady murals.
5. Stuff built by young people-not paid for by their dads.
6. The vintage look done right.
7. The latest trends done right.
8. Regular ol' street machines done right.
9. Violent stuff that really annoys people who don't like cars.
10. Daily drivers that have no right being daily drivers.

How To Never Be In Car Craft
• "My graphics have 20 colors, and I saw you shoot that car with stock paint." Craft your car any way you want to, but far-out cosmetics or dated mods are risky. The most common violations: stink-bug stance, tires hanging out too far, tasteless graphics, gold plating, gauges all over the cowl, and the wrong wheels.

• "I owe it to my sponsors." But we don't. Use our name in vain when scoring graft (as many do) and you virtually guarantee your exclusion from our pages.

• "You need to expand your boundaries" This usually means you want us to put your front-wheel-drive car in the magazine. Forget it. We don't do imports or street rods, either.

• "You have to put me on the cover." No, we don't.

• "The car is dedicated to the memory of my (fill in the blank)." Many readers try to pity us into a photo shoot with tales of ill or deceased relatives that the car was built for. We feel awful about it, but personal tragedy doesn't guarantee you a spot in Car Craft.

• "But I spent $250,000 on the restoration!" That's good enough reason for us not to shoot it.

• "My car is much better than that piece of dog doo you showed last month." Arrogant criticism rarely induces favorable response from CC staffers.

• "I drove three days to get here expecting a photo shoot, so you better do it." Don't threaten us or you'll have a disappointing three-day drive home.

• "I have to trailer it to the photo shoot." If you can't or won't even drive the car, no thanks.

• Shoot with any camera except digital or Polaroid. Even throw-away cameras will usually work fine.

• Clueless as to what film to use? You can't go wrong with ASA 200 or 400 for color prints.

• Take photos of your car with the sun to your back so the car is fully lit, but don't get your own shadow in the photo.

• Cars usually look best shot from low angles, so kneel down.

• Avoid ugly junk in the background, like other cars, trees, and phone polls.

• Make sure the entire car is in the photo, but don't stand so far away that it looks like a speck in the distance.

• We really don't need to see your girlfriend in a bikini-or your boyfriend (not that we have any phobias or anything).

• We're not too interested in seeing family pets with sunglasses, stuffed animals, "crybabies," placards, or lots of trophies in the photos.

• Shoot the engine and a few other details while you're there-Car Craft is the only mag we know of that will use them. Engines are best photographed in open shade (no harsh sun or shadows) with a bit of flash.

• We don't usually use shots of more than one car.

• Turn off the camera's date-imprint thingy.

• Shoot the car with the doors and hood closed.

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