Unfeatured: Tomas Burns’ Honda Civic…


I imagine now would be as good a time as ever to unload some photos that I shot a while back that never fully saw the light of day in print or on a website anywhere. These photos were most likely shot with the intention to eventually end-up in print in a magazine like Super Street but reasons totally under my control caused them not to. I don’t have too many shoots sitting in my computer’s hard drive but there definitely are some that I’d hoped would have been published some day. Ironically enough, pretty much all these photos came from my visits to the Pacific Northwest. A couple years back, I would regularly fly out to Washington to shoot cars for work. I’d use this as an excuse to go hang out up there and then come back with some photo shoots that would pay for my trips. Around 2017, I’d lost a bit of that hunger and motivation to do magazine work and as a result, these sadly fell by the wayside. You can imagine how burnt-out I was during that time because I literally left money on the table by not finishing these or pushing to have them in the magazine. I feel bad now because Super Street isn’t even a printed publication anymore and I know how cool it would have been to squeeze these in before they went fully digital in 2020…

Some time has passed since then and these cars you’ll be seeing in these photo sets will have either changed parts-wise or are owned now by completely different people. Each set had its own reasons for never reaching the pages of a magazine and I’ll try to elaborate on said-reasons as I unload the photos here on The Chronicles. I’ll title this series “Unfeatured” because, well, these were basically features that never happened. A big part of me feels bad about these photos surfacing now because I shot them with the understanding of the respective owners that they would be in a magazine. There’s probably a feeling of a dream being crushed because I know how big of a deal it was for a car enthusiast to be immortalized in print. And for that, all I can do is issue a sincere apology. It must have felt terrible waiting for so long in hopes to one day flip through a magazine and find these photos in there—only to find they’d have to wait another month, and then another, and then on the 6th of December 2019, the final nail in print’s proverbial coffin came hammering down…

Some of the photos did end-up in print however. The ones that I liked the most from these various unused shoots did make it into the second volume of my coffee table books. It’s no magazine feature or anything but I’m glad to have been able to immortalize these cars in some form. Being in a pretty-limited hard cover book is a good form of consolation, right? I’d like to think so…

The first one up that we’ll look at today is Tomas Burns’ Civic hatchback. If you’re an enthusiast that has been connected to the Honda community both on social media and in real life for the last five years or so will instantly recognize this build. It ‘needs no introduction’, I guess you can say. Tomas’ Civic appeared on my radar years ago when it was still blue on a set of re-barreled Mugen M7 wheels with the same BYS front lip you see in these photos. Personally, I still prefer that stage of the car aeshetically but this green phase is perhaps its much more refined form. It’s a matured look compared to its earlier blue iteration inside and out. During that time, it has made multiple trips to California and back whether it be for an Eibach Honda Meet down here or for one of my annual gatherings out in Corona.

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Though I had seen him and his car around at many different venues throughout the West Coast, I don’t believe I had actually spoken to him until I contacted him through Instagram about possibly shooting his car during the summer of 2016. If I remember correctly, it was during this time when he had his car torn apart as he was going through a rebuild and complete respray. He informed me that his car wasn’t quite ready, and wouldn’t be ready by the time I had returned to Washington on one of my trips but offered another Civic that belonged to a friend of his. Those photos from that shoot will come later but during that shoot was one of the first times I actually spoke to Tomas in-person. He was pretty reserved, didn’t have much to say since we didn’t know much about one another but he seemed like a nice guy. Like one of the types that likes to keep his friends close and had little to say to those who weren’t. You know, like the type where you didn’t really know him unless you KNEW him types. I appreciated that because I’m very much the same…

Tomas had been through a couple of different Civics before arriving at this particular chassis. He learned everything as he progressed working on his cars, not knowing too much in the beginning as he came from a different automotive background. His fondness for the Civic helped him develop his car to levels which he could never imagine, starting from a young kid who didn’t even know what ‘real’ parts were to eventually tearing a car down by himself and rebuilding it from the ground-up. What you see here is not even the final form of his hatchback, as it continued to improve in the years that followed after I shot it…

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What I like about it the most is that it’s a friendly reminder of how great Honda builds were during the mid 2000s. I always feel like 2005-06 was the best years of the West Coast Honda community when builds had a very specific aesthetic to it. Nothing overdone, very subtle but highly refined in its details. Paint color choice could make or break your build and of course, good parts selection were key. A “vibe” is what the kids call it these days and some builds just exude that look that will always give you that nostalgic feeling. This is a Honda build you’d see on a forum like NWP4LIFE back in those years and it is online message boards like NWP which Tomas spent so many endless nights doing research on. This car is essentially an homage to that era…

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The reason why these photos never made it over to the Super Street offices was simply because I was just never happy with them. I chose this specific backdrop because I wanted a really “Pacific Northwest” look, and what was more PNW than the street where the Seattle Seahawks play? I thought it was the perfect location but when it came down to actually getting the car situated in the right spots to get good angles, for whatever reason, I didn’t execute. There are times when I think I get trapped in my own head and get lost in the creative process. I think I just hit a wall during that time and couldn’t reach that creative zone. The exterior shots just didn’t do it for me. I honestly hated them. I went through and tried to process the photos a number of times in the months that followed the shoot and I just couldn’t find any photos that I liked. During the shoot, I think I even told Tomas that I wanted to come back to shoot his car again when we figured out a different location—but it just never happened. The next two years that followed I just got so incredibly busy that I couldn’t just make a trip to Washington to shoot cars and hang out. I was either on the Wekfest tour at different stops all over the country or I was in Japan. When I did return to Seattle for Wekfest there just wasn’t any time. And then time just flew-by after that and we’re in 2020…

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On the positive side, the car continued to get better after this day. That goes with his ongoing growth and development in working on cars. It didn’t change too dramatically though, just little details here and there which made it “pop” more I suppose. The engine bay with the B16A swap in it remains and set-up in this way, is pretty much timeless…

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The photos I actually were pretty happy with from this shoot were the detail shots and the engine bay itself. I think I’ve become pretty good at capturing shots of Honda engine bays over the years so it is difficult for me to fuck that up like I did with the exterior shots…

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As you can see, the little details like the hardware, bracketing, and having a central theme really makes this engine bay a good one…

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The Abbey Road Company Air Induction Box was never a part that was utilized to produce any power but boy did it look good when you cleaned them up and kept that filtering element nice and red…

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Spoon Sports hoses, radiator cap, oil cap, spark plug wires and front strut tower bar tied the whole engine bay together. The wrinkle black valve cover gave the bay a subtle contrast touch paired with the Spoon Sports carbon kevlar wire cover. Some would probably go with the Spoon valve cover as well but perhaps Tomas thought against it because the yellow would have been too much with the bright red of the ARC Induction Box…

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Some would think that a classic Nardi woodgrain wheel would be a bit of an odd choice for the interior but I think it goes well with the Earth tones used on the exterior of the car. The high polished center of the wheel also matches the mirror-like finish of the shift knob…

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A digital OEM S2000 instrument cluster replaces the factory display. A popular choice among Honda enthusiasts…

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A Dimes Performance shift knob shot with the beaming light of the early morning sun…

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It wouldn’t be an homage to mid-2000s Honda builds without the popular NEXT! Miracle Cross Bar in the rear…

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Koni adjustable shocks with their signature white setting knob…

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I remembering asking Tomas why he wanted a Civic hatchback with a sunroof, being that so many specifically seek-out the chassis without the glass roof . He told me that he just enjoys the sun and being able to cruise when there is good weather with the roof open. It makes sense for an area that sees rain and overcast skies for much of the calendar year…

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A carbon kevlar BackYard Special rear wing that pairs with the matching kevlar of the front BYS lip and kevlar Spoon wire cover. The yellow kevlar as a color tone also pairs nicely with the Earthy green of the body which is taken from an OEM Honda color palette. I believe the color was used on the CR-V…

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These later shots, I will say, were a bit better with the then-Safeco Field used as a back drop. Though these photos were never used, it did help to inspire me to use this backdrop the following year(s) in my Wekfest Seattle photo coverage. It soon was renamed to T-Mobile Park, if memory serves correct…

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I think I was just trying to do something different for a magazine feature and wanted to shoot the car in a natural setting on a street which still represented an area where Tomas was from or frequented. The lighting was good during that time too and just harsh enough to create some good contrast…

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A unsaid photoshoot no-no that I learned from my old photographer friends is capturing a car with the windows down. It’s something that you just shouldn’t do. I think that always bothered me about these photos even though I knew I was doing it while taking these photos. I had to do it because I was shooting from a distance and Tomas couldn’t hear me directing him. I don’t know why we didn’t just communicate over the phone but again, I just wasn’t all there when I was shooting that day…

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Hindsight being 20/20, I’d obviously do most of these shots completely differently these days. I think it was also a time when I was reaching the absolute limits with my Canon 5DMKII body and the camera was just showing its age. The light hit in all the right places, which helped, but I upgraded to a newer body a year after this and it expanded my skill set so much more and allowed me to take so many more chances with my photos…

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This was one of my favorites and something that I hadn’t even planned to capture. I just thought it would have been a cool photo if it were used in a different part of the magazine, say, in the table of contents as a background or something…

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It’s a bit of a relief unloading these photos now, just being able to accept how flawed they are and giving them purpose during a time when we needed something familiar to look at in a period of time when nothing feels familiar…

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This was another photo that I thought was cool, even though it was unlikely it would have been used in print with it being a giant Coldplay poster complete with a date and all. I just liked the colors…

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And one more to put a close on these nearly 3-year old photos. Thanks to Tomas Burns for waking up early that weekend just so I could shoot photos of his car to look at years later. I think maybe he had given up on seeing these some time ago but “better late than never, though never late is better”. Thanks for looking folks..

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4 comments

  1. Love the article, I think all of the photos are great. I love your work!

  2. Yes! More dedicated car features, please! Great shots, great car.

  3. The thing i love most about your work is your high standard of quality. Keep doing what you do Joey!

  4. I think you’re being to harsh on yourself. These look great.

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