1. Look through a few R/C magazines to get ideas on the types of pictures to take. The photographers for professional R/C magazines have been doing their job for years, so it's not a bad idea to borrow ideas from them on the types of pictures to take. Watch how they set their backgrounds, lighting, framing and positioning in their pictures. Take note of the types of shots they have, whether it's action or still photography. Don't worry if you don't have an expensive camera, not many people do - you may be able to borrow one and in many cases it doesn't matter anyway - you can't fake good photo sense, a nice paintjob and amazing effort.
2. Good angles on the cars in the picture (lower is usually better, but a higher angle is sometimes good). Look at these examples below:
3. Good backgrounds, settings and lighting
Natural sunlight is the best light you can use. Indoor pictures can be tough because incandescent and flourescent lighting isn't that bright, plus a flash at night or indoors is usually TOO bright. Also, you have to deal with things like carpet, chairs, tables, electric cords and other visual distractions when taking a picture inside.
Notice the very clean backgrounds on the pictures above, as well as the bright lighting. Where the light isn't full sunlight, diffused bright light works almost as well.
4. Trim those body posts!
Too many R/C enthusiasts don't trim their body posts when taking pictures of their car, or racing. The logic is usually "what if I want to fit another body on the car?" Body posts are about $4 a set, it won't kill you to have a couple of extra sets - one long, one short and one in between so you can swap bodies or whatever. Besides, it's the one sure badge of a novice, and no one wants to look like a novice, right?
5. A minimum of work needed on the picture to "clean it up" - we use Adobe Photoshop to modify the pictures...sometimes. What we prefer to do is resize, save the big picture, make the thumbnail (the small picture), save the thumbnail and that's it. Anything taking much longer reduces the chances of your car making to the HPI Racer's Gallery!
As we say above, you don't need to have an expensive digital camera, fast computer, expensive software and graphic artist skills to make a nice picture. Even with a disposable camera and good natural lighting you can take excellent picture, it just comes down to being patient and getting the right background, subject and lighting. The digital camera, computer and software just make it easier - without these you just need a little more time and skill. Then when you do get access to that stuff it's just that much easier to get a good shot! (Another plus of digital cameras - no film or developing costs!)
One thing we know doesn't work too well are the small webcams that sit on your desk or monitor - the pictures they output are usually too small and too dark to be able to do much with. Just about anything else is fine!
6. Try to send us original, fresh paint jobs on HPI bodies mounted on an HPI chassis. Don't send us a picture of a body that has seen too much race action, and unless your paint job is really unique, don't send us something we've seen too much of!
There are two basic paint jobs: race cars or street cars. Race cars can be replicas of real teams or a team you've made up on your own. Many R/C racers have adopted the "R/C style" paint job with swoops of bright (sometimes neon) color, drips, flames, etc. Street cars are usually one-color paint jobs, possibly with decals to make it look a little sporty. Either way, here are some examples of good paint jobs:
7. Also, if you have some unique thing about your car or truck, include a picture of that and a short description!
8. Be sure to include your name and location! We get too many submissions with no name or location info! People like to know where other racers are located, especially if they are near them.
9. Picture files can be too big or too small. Pictures should be between 50 KB and 1 MB (1024 KB) in file size, each. Our thumbnails are 113 pixels across (1.5" at 72 dpi), so make sure your pictures are at least 400-700 pixels wide. And remember, if we have to edit the picture too much, we won't be able to use it. Include your pictures as attachments, not in the body of your email. JPG files work best for us and can be opened and saved in any image editor. Try not to have any spaces in the file name, and if you can keep the extensions (.jpg, etc.) in lowercase letters it makes it easier for us to use your pictures.
So that's it. With practice and a little bit of dedication you can be taking great pictures of your pride and joy in no time!