Have you been tagged?
We asked our friend Janet Ford to share her MINI License Plates gallery and asked her a few questions about it. Here are her words.
TDT: When did you start your gallery?
I probably started my license plate photo collection shortly after attending my first large MINI event, the very first Sunshine MINIs Annual Picnic in January 2008. It was my first time ever seeing so many MINIs together and I was in awe of the MINI culture. There were over 100 MINIs there and not only were they all unique, but the majority of them also had personalized license plates. I took pictures of as many as I could. I loved the cleverness of all the MINI owners.
After that, whenever I would attend MINI events with my then young teenage daughter, Kelly, she and her friends would want something to do so I would give her my camera and send them around the parking lot to photograph MINIs and license plates.
I soon had many cool plates, but they were scattered throughout different photo albums on my computer. Then my OCD kicked in and I decided I needed to put them all together in one place. A friend of mine, David Lopez—or Cabriopilot as he was known in the forums—showed me where he had started an album on Flickr of license plates he’d seen. I thought that was brilliant, so I borrowed his idea.
At first, the plates in my collection were just pictures that either I or my daughter had actually taken. But, with the explosion of the MINI community onto Facebook I began to see so many other custom tags that I might never get the chance to see in person. At first I resisted downloading those pictures because it felt like cheating to me. But eventually I gave in to the temptation. At this point, my collection truly has become a community effort. I just organize the pictures and try to make sure there are no duplicates.
My obsession with these tags has given me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people over the years. When they see me photographing their plates they’ll come up and start talking. Sometimes I need them to explain their tags to me because it’s not something immediately evident. There are funny tags, patriotic tags, double-entendre tags, tags that mean something to the owner that’s not necessarily obvious to anyone else, MINI names, owner’s names, everything you can imagine and then some. Some don’t make sense unless you see the whole MINI…like “A Purse” on a MINI that has been designed to look like a purse.
A lot of people have really interesting stories behind their personalized plates. I was in a McDonald’s drive-thru in Florida one time and saw a MINI with a personalized tag from Pennsylvania parked on the side. As I aimed my camera towards it the owner came out. He told me his was one of the first 50 MINIs sold in the US and back then, everywhere he went people asked him “What is it?”. So his custom plate reads “WUTISIT”.
TDT: How many license plates are there? Do you have one from all fifty states?
As of this writing I have 2,161 different license plates in the album. However, that does not mean they’re all different. In many cases I have found the same customized tag issued by various states. My collection also includes European tags, whether just used as you-ification here in the states or as actual legal license plates abroad. It also contains some plates that are clearly advertising. You asked if I have tags from all 50 states. I had to go through them and look because that was never really my goal, but I found out I do, along with Washington, D.C. and several Canadian provinces.
TDT: What are some of your favorites?
Obviously, there are a lot that I think are really cool. But yes, there are a few that stand out to me…. the simple “IMA MINI”, which is my cover photo for the album,
and “CARGA5M” which sums up MINI motoring to me.
Funny ones that stand out are “PB4UGO”
and “KMA OPEC”.
I also like those with a message “TRY2K UP”,
To see the rest of my collection and see if your personalized tag is in there visit my MINI License Plates Flickr album.
TDT: How can people submit their MINI license plate photo?
If anyone would like to have their custom license plates added to my collection they can send me a photo of their tag on Facebook via Messenger. I try to show enough of the MINI in the picture so that it’s obvious it’s a tag on a MINI Cooper… e.g. MINI wings badge or the Cooper badge.