Shooting a book cover

Photo shootHow do editors decide on book covers?

After I handed in my manuscript for Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage and hundreds of pictures, I left for three months in Europe. Jim and Mary Ellen of Milestone Press looked through all those photos on the off-chance one could be a candidate for a book cover.

They liked one of Lenny on the A.T. going toward Big Bald. The mountains were scenic, the clouds were right but he was facing away from the camera; he was looking at the scenery. So they felt that wasn’t quite right.

So we scheduled a photo shoot. My job was to get several good-looking, active hikers to spend a day on the trail, getting shot at. Jim’s instructions were very clear. They have to wear bright shirts and bright hats and be dressed like hikers. I also brought several red and bright blue shirts for the guys and women, just in case the colors weren’t quite right. And of course, I brought the chocolate. I guess that made me the producer or the production assistant.

Mary Ellen is a photographer as well as an editor and she was the director. Jim and Mary Ellen liked the hike into Big Bald and wanted the open views just south of Street Gap. We hiked from Sams Gap toward an open field, over two miles. Once we got to the right spot, our models, Tish, Janet, Jay and Jim, started walking toward the camera under Mary Ellen’s direction. They were great!

Walking uphill is better than downhill. The models should be coming from the right …. All these guidelines that must be taught someplace in book cover class has me looking at guidebook book covers in a totally different way.

And the result? Mary Ellen and Jim will be looking at the hundreds of photos that were taken. Hopefully, one will fit the bill and you’ll see it when the book comes out.

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