During the Panorama years, one of my recurring jobs was to produce covers for the magazine, sometimes on very short notice. We got many excellent images from generous contributors, amateur and professional, but had to pass on a lot of these because of appropriateness or formatting; many really good shots simply couldn’t be adapted from the oft-submitted horizontal format to the vertical required for a cover. There was no money to pay for images, so over the years, I wound up producing between 200 and 300 covers, and came to think a lot about how best to do this.
If the lead story that month was a race, it was pretty straightforward. Something dynamic, maybe gritty, usually involving the winning or best placed Porsche. This could be tricky, as verticals of cars going in a horizontal direction—we didn’t do many hillclimbs—were often low on visual impact. Since the winner wasn’t known until the race was over, my files are jammed with verticals of losing cars that could never be considered. New car intro stories were easier—although Porsche didn’t provide a great variety of images until more recent years, the cars were there to be photographed, and there were no losers. Doing our own shots let us color-key the cover car to the inside story pictures, and avoid the repetition that can happen when more than one magazine chooses the same image from the manufacturer.
An idea that served well was to shoot with the future in mind: Parades, new car intros, Rennsport Reunions, and any other gathering of Porsches were target rich environments. A group of potential covers evolved, verticals that had a composition that would still look good when the Panorama logo and date were added at the top left corner, and were available for those times when there was no strong link to the lead story required. Something striking, colorful, maybe a little enigmatic—the idea being to attract the reader to pick up the magazine. This image, a shot of a Porsche sitting under a highway overpass, sat around for years, waiting its chance. No real story to it; I always liked it, but its moment never came for various reasons. Could have been a contender–