Meguiar’s “Portrait of an Icon” 90s-Era Shoot and Unpublished Photos…

Earlier this year, I was contacted by Meguiar’s and invited to be one of five creator’s to be on their “Portrait of an Icon” campaign to celebrate their 120-year anniversary. I was honestly a little surprised at first to hear from them since there are so many good content creators out there in the industry but was deeply honored when I got the details of what the project was all about. It was to be a generational piece, spanning five-decades from the 1980s to the 2020s, each themed according to the time period and the main caveat being that there had to be a “Meguiar’s Easter Egg” hidden in the photo. Each photo must have one of their products, that existed during that particular generation, present. It didn’t have to be blatant or in your face, and just had to appear somewhere within the photo. Think “Where’s Waldo” type of hiding, which is basically hiding in plain sight. The more it blended-in with the photo the better. It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing for me to agree to be a featured artist in their campaign because I was presented with absolute freedom to do whatever I wanted. Over the years, I’ve been offered and turned down a number of projects because I felt it was too restrictive in what they wanted and expected from me. When I feel that type of creative ‘stunting’, if you will, I shut off and just can’t find myself wanting to produce anything. This project was the opposite of that. I could get a check and have creative freedom doing what I enjoyed? I’m in…

This most recent shoot I did for Meguiar’s is actually the second piece for them that I completed, titled as “The Popping 90s”. The first one I did was “The New Wave 80s” which I haven’t really gone too much depth into yet because the car I shot for it was worthy enough for a full set of photos for The Chronicles. I only did front exterior shots that day because I didn’t have enough time to go through the car thoroughly but I plan to reconnect with the owner soon to finish the shoot so I can upload it here. “The Popping 90s” was an important one for me because it provided me with the opportunity to cover one of the best eras of Honda tuning culture in North America. What I am going to be showing you here on the site today will vary from what I’ve already presented on my social media outlets because there were way more photos that I shot last weekend which I didn’t use for the Meguiar’s project. I had so much fun with it that I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture content for my own use. I’ll even go into much more detail to describe exactly what is in the photos and what had to be done to ensure that it was representative of that 1990s time period. A majority of the photos that I ended-up not using for the post was either because they had something in the photo that wasn’t period-correct or it was just an alternate angle which I didn’t like as much as the final pieces that were presented…

The thing with social media outlets like Instagram, which was the platform Meguiar’s chose to use, is that there are character-limits and I can never write as much as I want, lol. And I’m a writer first so it can be quite frustrating when it comes to not being able to type out all I want to say. Good thing we have this website as my main resource where I can do as I please!…

To begin, I’ll show you guys the photos that actually made it into “The Popping 90s” portion of the project which were posted a few days ago on Instagram and Facebook, as well as the original copy that I typed out for it. That way those of you who missed it or don’t have Instagram understand what is going on. The ones that ‘made it’ will have an orange timestamp on it to resemble a film photo. The rest which didn’t make the cut will not have that same stamp on them…

Here’s the original post and copy that I wrote…

Instagram looks funny on a browser right? Don’t worry. I’ll post up the higher-resolution photos in this post so you can actually SEE what the photos weren’t meant to look like before they were compressed for IG. I’ll also break down the little details in each photo and what you may or may not have missed at a glance. I actually posted the detailed behind-the-scenes information in my Instagram stories but that only stays up for 24-hours and if you didn’t see these photos until now, that stuff is long gone…

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Did you notice:

  • Everything in this shot is specific to the 1990s (with the exception of tires of course)
  • SSR EX-C Fins and Mugen NR10R wheels, as well as Dave’s NSX brakes are all 90s-era production models
  • The Jasper Green DA Integra that was used for this project is owned by Dave Chik who is also the original owner of this car
  • The paint on the body itself, excluding the lip, sideskirts, hatch, and other accessories, is all-original
  • In the background is an APEX CRT television set, a Hi-Fi VCR/DVD combo, original Super Nintendo, original Game Genie w/game
  • Meguiar’s Gold Class (which debuted in the 90s) Carnauba Plus Spray Wax on top of the VCR
  • OEM EF/ED Honda Civic taillights and center garnish on top of the fridge
  • A yellow Neuspeed front strut tower bar is also on top of the fridge

What you don’t see:

  • A modern-day washer and dryer unit(s) were covered and obscured
  • The TV sits on top of them so you don’t notice
  • “Recaro” logos have been edited and removed since those particular seats were not available in the 1990s

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Did you know?:

  • I found this old TV on Offerup and drove over two hours in traffic just to pick it up so I could use it for this shoot
  • I had no idea whether the TV worked or not and didn’t care since it was a background prop, but I’m glad it did because it added an extra dynamic to the photos of it with its static screen
  • The Super Nintendo is actually mine from my childhood. For some reason, I noticed I had two of them even though I only grew-up with one so I must have acquired another over the years
  • The Game Genie is also from my personal collection. I believe I traded a classmate for it back then for another game
  • If you look closely, attached to it is a copy of ‘CHRNCLS: Highway Attack Challenge’ but this is a factory gray copy to match the 90s and not the blue ones that were sold this year
  • I figured if there was a Meguiar’s easter egg in the photo, there might as well be a Chronicles easter egg as well so I used the game cartridge
  • What’s covering the washer and dryer under the TV is a massive Toyo Tires banner but we flipped it around since it was a bright yellow that would have been too distracting for the photo
  • These photos were actually taken at my friend Mauricio’s house. He’s an older car guy so a lot of the parts that are laying around are actually parts he has collected over the years. We didn’t do much to change the garage layout much because it was already perfect the way it was. We just added stuff and took modern stuff out
  • The people in the background of the photo are my friends and they weren’t originally supposed to be in any of the photos. But we were all just hanging out that day and sitting by the cars while waiting for the sun to go down and it just worked with them in the shot. It looks natural because it is, which also helped to give that added ‘feel’ to the photo(s)

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Did you know?:

  • Josue Diaz’s Civic was not originally planned to be used for this series
  • It actually just so happened to work out that Carlos Palafox was painting the car in his garage and it was in an incomplete state, which was something I was looking for
  • If you look closely, you’ll notice that the car has no front windshield and no side moldings. I rushed down to San Diego to shoot this photo because I wanted to make sure the windshield hadn’t been installed yet otherwise the car would look too complete
  • The Civic has a wagon front bumper on it
  • I also felt like this car was perfect for the project because I needed a distinctly 90s feel with 90s props in the background and there was a 1998 Dodge Viper in the garage. It’s not every day you see a Civic and a Viper parked next to each other
  • The garage itself is very simple and devoid of anything too modern but like Mauricio’s house, there was a newer washer/dryer which we had to disguise for the photo
  • There is a much wider version of this photo that I shot which I liked but the house featured modern solar panels on the roof so I went with this photo instead of having to edit the panels out
  • I wanted this to feel like a photo you’d take right after pulling your project out of the garage for the first time. Even though it wasn’t quite finished yet, there was this overwhelming sense of excitement that came with just seeing it outside in the sun

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Did you see?:

  • Original 90s-era Clifford car alarm remote and OEM Acura Integra key
  • A working Motorola pager from 1998
  • GTE Motorola flip phone
  • Individual throttle bodies which are originally modified mid-90s era ITBs from a 20-valve ‘Black Top’ Toyota 4A-GE engine
  • If you’re wondering, yes, this is the blue Civic from the ‘Pursuit of Function’ DVD

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Did you see?:

  • Takechi Project SSR EX-C Fin wheels complete with center caps
  • Authentic Mugen DA Integra sideskirts
  • Authentic Mugen EG6 Civic front lip
  • Authentic original production Mugen M7 wheels
  • Authentic Spoon Sports side mirrors

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Did you know?:

  • This is “Goldy”, the original gold Civic hatchback built by FF Dylan from FF-Squad
  • FF-Squad was one of the original, ground-breaking, car clubs from the late 90s – 2000s who shaped what many of us know as “JDM”
  • Of all the photos I shot, this was probably the one with the most ‘modern’ parts in it. Though about 80% of it is era-specific, some stuff like the J’s/First Molding hood are not from the 90s, as are bronze TE37 wheels in that particular sizing, the tires obviously, and the prototype Battlecraft hood
  • Also, the Spoon SW388 wheels are modern production versions
  • It took two wheel spacers that combined for 30mm for John Cruz to clear his Alcon front brakes so the Spoon wheels would fit
  • It was either the Spoon wheels or the bronze Mugen MF8s, which are in the photo as well, but we decided it just didn’t look as good so the sacrifice was made to run a newer wheel for the sake of overall aesthetic
  • Every seat in this photo has their logos removed during post-processing because they were not available in 1998

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Did you know?:

  • This particular shot was not originally intended to be used for this series but there was a certain timeless quality about it with John’s Impala and the boys hanging out inside that gave it a feeling I really enjoyed

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Did you see?:

  • A photo like this one is why I was so delighted that the TV I bought actually turned-on
  • OEM Honda Civic key for Goldy along with a popular modification back in the 90s for security purposes which is the Solex key/lock
  • An early generation SNES cartridge which looked different than the later iterations with the main difference being the slit across the casing and not a full shelved opening
  • That is the same copy of CHRNCLS: Highway Attack Challenge from the previous photo
  • There is a bottle of Meguiar’s Gold Glass spray wax in the background
  • The working pager still stores all of my messages from 1998
  • Back then,  you’d have to understand pager code or “numerics” to know what the messages meant. This particular message says ’41-5945-3177′. I can only make out the ’41’ which means ‘call me’, the rest unfortunately, I can’t decipher now. It might have been a phone number which was just typed incorrectly

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Did you know?:

  • This photo is framed specifically so you could see the people in the background through the hood and prop
  • JUN AUTO actually established a U.S.-base of operations and office here in California in 1997
  • That is an authentic JUN valve cover, oil cap, and radiator cap
  • I actually did take a photo of the engine bay since it featured many period-correct parts from the 1990s but decided not to use it because Dave is using modern Hasport engine mounts which weren’t available then

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Did you know?:

  • The most modern object in this photo, other than the SNES game which is actually not even a real game, is the VCR/DVD combo. It was likely very new at the time as it wasn’t common to have both combined into one and you would likely have to be pretty rich to be able to acquire one
  • I was not rich, despite owning this VCR. I actually bought this in the 2000s at Walmart because I needed something to play VHS tapes which were, by that time, considered to be out-dated

Pretty cool to read all those tidbits right? One of my favorite things to do actually after watching a movie is going on IMDB to read all the trivia and facts about the movie. It not only makes you feel closer to the what you’re looking at but helps you develop a deeper appreciation for the work understanding some of the creative process.

The rest of the photos below are the ones that didn’t make the cut. I shot quite a bit just because I knew it would be good content for the site and it gave me more options when it came time to putting my IG post together. I’ll also give you guys more info as to why these shots didn’t make it so it’ll all make more sense at the end…

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This photo came out good but I didn’t end-up using it because it wasn’t actually supposed to be a photo. I was trying to film B-roll for the vlog episode and actually shot it as a photo so kept it. Made for a cool shot and this is the only time in this post you’ll see the car on Spoon wheels. We had an option to run either but I decided to go with the Mugen MR5 just because it shows better in photos and has more pop than a flat black wheel…

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I took multiple angles of the exact same shot because this was the layout I knew I wanted for the shot. It was what I envisioned before I even got to Carlos house that day. I simply wanted the car out of the garage barely, parked at a slight angle because a 3/4 view with the wheel turned is better than a straight-on shot of a car poking out of a garage. It felt weird not taking any other photos of it from different angles but there was no reason too since the car was incomplete. It would have been weird to move it around like it’d be posed anywhere else without moldings and glass…

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This was one of the photos that I really liked but the Viper ended-up being too obscured and the solar panels on the roof of the garage were so obvious. I didn’t want to edit the panel out because it would just look weird to me. If you look closely you’ll also see the Meguiar’s easter egg but its really tucked away for this shot…

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I thought about using this one since Dave was cleaning his wheel at the time, being that this was for a car care company, but Dave’s shoes are too modern for the photo and the presentation is just a little off. This was a test shot right after I finished setting up the strobes so they weren’t even aimed correctly…

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This was actually supposed to be the opening photo for the Meguiar’s set. I sat in front of my computer for a while trying to decide on either this photo or the one I ended-up with. I ultimately decided against using this one because the photo with the hood open just gives the shot more dimension since the engine bay is so detailed. Either would have worked though…

My original layout for this set was way different. The plan was to have Dave’s car facing the other direction and I’d be shooting into the garage instead of shooting inside of it. I just decided to shoot it this way because Mauricio has too many cars to move around and his driveway isn’t the easiest to go in and out of. It all worked out just fine though and way better than I anticipated…

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The goal of the photo set was to have a couple of full car photos and in-between would be detail shots for ambience or to add to the overall aesthetic. This photo just seemed way too obvious in displaying the props and I eventually plugged the television unit in which was a real game changer…

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I really wanted the strobes to give off this ‘harsh flash’ look that old film camera had so I played around with some angles and this was just one of the shots I didn’t fall in love with…

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Dave’s engine bay is super detailed yet not overly done to the point where you would say that it is ‘modern’. I captured photos of it just for personal use because there is imagery in here that I wouldn’t say would be good representation for a 120 year-old car care company, lol. I mean, the strut bar has a sticker on it that says ‘FUCKIN AWESOME’ and there’s a lady with a gun on the battery case…

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The main reason why I would have not used engine bay photos was simply because the car had Hasport mounts on it that were not available then and also very difficult for me to edit-out..

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This photo was definitely very close to making the final cut. It’s totally 90s car guys just hanging out and working on cars atmosphere. I just thought the other one I used was a better photo overall…

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Same reasoning with this one. I wanted the focus to be on the valve cover more so than the people in the photo since the human element wasn’t totally necessary for the project…

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This engine bay is great but this entire set-up didn’t happen until the early 2000s so I used an alternate version of it instead that focused more on the props on the windshield cowl. I also didn’t take any photos of the Civic by itself because it was always meant to be a background car just for atmosphere. You can also consider it an ‘easter egg’ of sorts because the car is so well-known and recognized for it being an early 2000s time capsule…

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John laid everything out perfectly for me when I arrived to shoot Goldy. You could even say that the set-up was almost too clean, but the collection of parts surrounding the Civic on the shelves worked-out great. I never planned to use a photo of the car with the hood open other than for my own personal use here…

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Same with this one. The car just looked good with the hood propped open so I fired away…

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There was a part of me that considered shooting and having his NSX in the photo set but I felt like the bright red didn’t flow well with the other photos. It would have been too much of a contrast with the other three cars used since the color-toning is very specific. Also there was a modern SUV right next to it which we couldn’t move so this was never going to work…

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I took a couple of photos of the engine bay just for shits since I haven’t seen the car in awhile. There was no plan to ever use them for the Meguiar’s photos since the Skunk2 Ultra intake manifold is just way too new…

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Here is how the Spoon wheels look after the two wheel spacers were used on each side to clear the Alcon brakes. I specifically took the photo of the Civic from much more of a distance so the casual eye wouldn’t recognize such a modern brake/wheel set-up…

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Another detail shot I ended-up not choosing. It wasn’t a bad shot or anything. I like the pager in the foreground and the white faces of the cluster in the back but there were just better options…

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I REALLY wanted to use this photo for the set since it has a lot of grit to it and looks like something from back in the day. I didn’t go with it though because the JG Edelbrock manifolds didn’t come around until 2002…

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This was just for my own use though I suppose it could have been used for the set if it was absolutely necessary. I would have gone with the previous photo before this one though…

The rest of the photos are just what I shot after I wrapped-up and we convinced Anthony Keuth to try John’s Sprint Hart CP-Rs on his DA. We just thought it’d be fun and since we were all in a 90s mindset anyway, it was kinda perfect…

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One of the more definitive looks of that time were DA Integras just slammed on CP-Rs. This is the perfect set-up right here…

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We only tested the wheels on one side since Anthony has some corny ass suspension on there that is probably from the 90s, which prevented the front of his Integra from going any lower. The way the car sits right now he was already riding on the front bump stops. Otherwise the car looked great…

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From this angle you can see just how different it looked with the Mugen M7 on the other side. Wheels really do change the whole look of your car…

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One more NSX photo just because one can never have enough photos of red NSXs on bronze Mugen MF10s…

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And one closing shot with the boys just hanging out after the shoot. We filmed some more for the vlog which is on YouTube now but soon after, Der and I went home…

Huge thanks to all who were involved with this project in all three different locations I shot at. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of those guys and it was so much fun having the opportunity to do this with them. Thanks for looking and I hope you guys look forward to what’s coming next!…

2 thoughts

  1. Your writing and efforts in putting this imagery together was very entertaining and much needed.

    If you’re reading this now, pick up your cam and try capturing stuff like this to mark July 4rth 2021 in the same fashion. LOL

    Anyway, cool project hope it grows into something bigger for the website and Happy 4rth everyone!

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