August 24th, 2010


Creating a Book Cover

Creating a book cover for a client is a process in creative communication. The clients challenge is to communicate to me exactly what they want and my challenge is to listen, and to create their vision to the best of my ability, while giving them a few other options that they may not have considered.

The first phase Sample Fourof this process is something I'm not even involved in - where a client is looking at artists and deciding who they want to work with, whose style is best suited to their book. If they want illustration or photography or mixed media. This is a very important part of the process. I think it's good to carefully consider artists and their available styles. Asking an artist to go outside the styles they have in their portfolio might not be a great idea - it's best to choose people who have work you enjoy and who have elements in their portfolio you can ask them to use to create your own piece.

The next phase is when a client approaches me and lets me know what they would like on their cover. This is a place where we start to talk about their basic vision and pricing. For photographs, pricing can be very dependent on the time and expense it would take to produce a shot. For example, a shot like this:  requires a beautiful model, makeup, a telephone, sheet music, and can be shot in the studio. Therefore the pricing is different than if the client wanted two sports cars racing one another down a highway while someone plays a cello on top of the roof of a van. (Though that would be awesome)Mortal Coil

At this point, I quote my client a price and let them know what they will be getting for that price. Usually this includes a test shoot, a final shoot, a presentation of a certain amount of images, and editing on two or three final images. We agree on the price, and then I start the creative part of the book cover creation.

The first thing I do is select a model, or models, that would best fit the shoot. For my most recent Mortal Coil shoot for the That Which Rises campaign, the challenge was to create a southern GoShovelthic photograph that has the feeling of the depression era. The concept was to create a photo that had a spooky feeling about it, but not any directly violent or gruesome image. The concept was that something terrible HAD happened, and we are seeing the aftermath.

Jared, my fantastic husband, suggested that actor Chris Morse, looked to him the most like a southern gentleman, and so I recruited Chris as a model. After viewing a lot of depression era photographs, we settled on a very basic costume - brown pants, suspenders, a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, a light colored hat, a handkerchief.

Usually I do a test shoot and then I get feedback from my client - what they likeMortal Coild, what didn't work for them. I find that sometimes, an idea you have in your head doesn't translate so well into the world, so it's good to have a test shoot to think about if I and my client are on the right path, or if we need to change course.

For this shoot, we were on a very tight deadline, and I was with a client I had worked with before, so wMortal Coile just did one shoot - though because we only did one shoot, I gave my client several location options.

We took one set of shots at the beautiful Thomas Leaper house. They were kind enough to let us shoot there. I wanted a building that was old enough to be around during the depression, and this fit the bill.

Then we went to Swarthmore college, which I choose because of those beautiful, big, white columns. The look we came up with here was more formal - large plantation style - and from taking the photos I knew it wasn't quite right, but I liked having the option to present to my client.

In addition to locations, I also try to vary poses. That's important because sometimes a client likes one place, but a different pose. Though these two poses are very similar, the client had a clear preference for one over the other. Collapse )