Cover Charge

Selection of a PANO cover may be lock simple, when a particularly good shot with the right characteristics (appropriate content, vertical, not too “busy” with detail, and with a good place for the PORSCHE PANORAMA logo to sit) shows up. Other times it can be spectacularly difficult. You might be interested in seeing what the selection process for the September (Parade) issue of PANORAMA involved this year—it wasn’t one of the easy ones.

The only basic requirement for September was that it should be Parade related, and what we wound up with was #1, an early morning concours scene back-lit by the rising sun, with good color and good Parade identification (the sign just visible in the lower left). But it wasn’t the only choice—there were at least a dozen other images in contention to one degree or another, which were partially worked to visualize how they would look on the front of your magazine. See if you can guess which were the runners-up and which the also-rans, but don’t be fooled by the ones that carry mock-up PANO logos; these are occasionally applied here to help visualize the final effect, but the actual logo work is done by our art director, Allen Lane, after the images leave the PANO office.

Closest in concept to the final cover was the red car, #2, that was shot at almost the same time as the green car finally selected for the cover. The colors were striking, but we decided to use this image more or less full frame as a “double truck” (covering both pages) opener for the Parade article, and I was very happy with its impact there. If we had used it for the cover, I think I would have wanted to move the car a little lower in the frame than it is shown here—it is a little too high and too dominant.

Then there were the two over-the-rear-of-the-car possibilities, #3 featuring Mike Robbins’ venerable Speedster and the other, #4, Bob Ingram’s America Roadster, both beautiful cars. Like the final cover and the opening spread, both were shot in the sweet early morning light on the resort golf course that hosted the concours, and the Speedster shot had the added advantage of having the Porsche monolith in the background. Either of these could have worked mechanically (vertical, place for logo, etc.) and would have made an attractive cover.

Going a bit more radical, an orange-brown, #5, and two different green cars were worked up from their original images, and variations on the theme were developed to evaluate. The over-the-hood shot of the orange 911 was the simplest, but didn’t get much admiration around here. I rather liked the heavily-manipulated 356 with the cloud reflections, #6, and was really drawn to the color interactions of the orange and green 911s together, #7. In fact, I was ready to cast my vote for that one until a day later when a small inner voice told me to look back at the cover of one of the Parades past. Sure enough, I had already done a very similar cover. Too similar.

Number 8 in our list was the red 911 from the rally, but it was shot with a short focal length of 24 mm which gave it an artificially elongated look that I decided didn’t work well here, and the yellow rally car, #9, while dynamic in this rotation was maybe a little too starkly graphic, and there was nothing about the picture that really said “Parade rally.” Note that this was a proof of concept image—not fully developed—as the upper left hand corner would need to be built if this image rendering had been selected. A lot of potential covers don’t even get to this state of development before being rejected, though.

Of the four images shown here from the autocross, the first, #10, with the cones composited over the winning 914 of Leeds Gulick, was simply too wild, and was never a real contender. The other three, numbers 11-13, involved using a photograph of the car “straight” on a background that was rendered in a somewhat painterly fashion to give a bit of a surreal effect. I had very high hopes for this technique, and spent a good bit of time trying to get it to work. At the end of the day, though, it just never seemed right. Maybe some other time.

Another image, #14, of Bob Ingram’s beautiful Gmünd coupe, was composited over a shot of the locally famous Fox River to work up a possible cover that made it as far as the stage of having a PANO cover logo applied to see how it would all work together. This original concept didn’t come from me, and I was frankly quite resistant to even trying it, but finally relented, and came to feel pretty positive about its prospects after working on the concept long enough to fully develop it. I wound up seeing this one was a real contender.

The other finalist in the Parade Cover Sweepstakes, #15, was a photograph of yellow flowers rendered sharp in the foreground with the red car thrown out of focus by its much greater distance from the lens. Another potential that was suggested by the editor, it had strong support here in the office and was in the final three when it came to the decision point that deadlines make mandatory. At the end of the day, though, consensus put us with #1.

So that was the way it was this year. Last year’s Parade cover choice, Frank Barrett’s reflection shot of the American flag in the hood of a 997, was easy. This year was hard, for whatever reason; these were some of the thought processes going into the selection. Were we right?


Let me know what you think. I'm