Lately, we’ve been receiving a very healthy amount of monthly show and shine entries, and more questions than ever before have been asked about how we judge the competition and pick the winners. These questions have ranged from the pre-emptive “What do I need to do to win?” to the cheeky “I didn’t win last month: why not?”, and have raised some interesting points. As a result, we’ve decided to spill the beans and tell you exactly what you need to do to win. This should save you a bit of time and misdirected effort in future.
To kick things off, let’s recap the rules… “The rules for entering our monthly show and shine competition are simple. Firstly, buy some products from us and keep a note of the order number. Then use the products and take decent quality photos of the results. Finally submit at least eight photos to our usual e-mail address, along with the original order number and a written summary of what you did. At the end of each month we will judge that month’s entries and the winner will be featured here and will receive £150 worth of products from the store. Good luck!”.
Starting with the first point, about buying products from us; this is worth noting, because if you send in an entry and clearly didn’t use any of our products, you will not win. If you forget to quote an order number we will try to look you up in our database, but this does not guarantee we will find you… which might scupper your chances. If you bought locally by visiting our premises and do not have an order number, tell us this in your entry, and remind us of your address, the date of your visit, who served you and the amount you spent.
Next, you need to use the products and take decent quality photos of the results. In fairness, ‘decent quality’ is perhaps a bit vague, but all you need to do is browse the previous winning entries to get a feel for what we mean. No blurred, out of focus shots, poorly framed shots. No rushed, poorly exposed, who-cares-what-the-backdrop-looks-like shots. Take your time, pick a sensible camera setting, frame your shot nicely, tidy away anything distracting in the background and get the focus right. With most modern cameras, this is not difficult.
Another important point to note is that we are not looking for before or during shots: only images of the final result. This is because we wish to keep the playing field as level as possible (we serve everyone from complete beginners through to some of the best detailers in the UK), and not everyone will go to the same lengths. The quality of the final finish in terms of its visual impact is what we are looking at, particularly in terms of its richness, reflectivity and glossiness. Put simply, we are looking for the most visually jaw dropping finish.
Another point to bear in mind; the rules ask for at least eight photos to be submitted. If you send in less than this you are seriously limiting your chances. Also, if seven out of the eight are taken from the same position the chances are you are not going to win. Ideally, you should aim to send in at least a couple of full car shots taken from different angles, a selection of shots looking down the sides from the front and rear, plus a couple of close ups of interesting details (grills, wheels, spoilers, etc) or effects (e.g. water beading).
Taking all of the above points into account, we’re now going to demonstrate the difference between an uninspiring entry and a winning entry… using a single set of images that were submitted to this month’s competition! Firstly, check out the six images shown below…
If these had been the only photos submitted, the entry would not have won. Why not? Well, the first photo top left is a before image, showing faint paint defects. The second photo top centre is a during image, showing the bonnet in a half polished state. The third photo top right is also a during image, and is too bright and has a messy backdrop. The fourth and fifth photos bottom left and bottom centre are too dark and don’t really show off the final finish. The sixth image bottom right isn’t very tightly framed (why include the wheelie bin?). Given these points, now examine the six images shown below…
These photos are winning photos, and the differences between them and the six shown previously should be obvious. Firstly, all six show the final finish, after all products and equipment were tidied away. Secondly, all are properly exposed, sharply focused and neatly framed. Thirdly, the car looks interesting, and has been shot from lots of different angles and distances, with no distracting backgrounds. Finally, the finish is clearly amazing, with terrific richness and glossiness making the red paint look dripping wet.
Hopefully the above example will help you to better understand what we are looking for, and to submit a winning entry. A few final technical points are worth mentioning. Because we create a page banner for each winning entry (see the example at the top of this article), we prefer to work with landscape images measuring at least 800 pixels wide. We can resize images and blank out number plates very easily in Photoshop, so there is no need to do any of this type of work yourself. Right then, that’s all you need to know, so get to it. And good luck!