Photography and cover art

All of my life, my grandmother had an antique clock sitting on her mantle. I both loved that clock and hated that clock. I hated it, mostly because it made noise. I can’t stand anything that chimes, tings, clinks, bangs or otherwise makes a repetitive noise. So, after my grandmother passed, the clock was one of the things my mother inherited.

Fast forward a few years. I’d spent the better part of 10 years thinking of a book. I was building a mystery book in my head. The mystery part was easy–it was based on that clock. The character part was hard, so I spent a good deal of the 10 years building the lead character of the book. So, when it was finished percolating in my head, I wrote the book. And of course, it gets rejected and rejected by anyone and everyone in the biz. But, I KNOW that this book will be published someday. So, maybe 4 or 6 years ago, I set up a draft photo of the clock, and took the picture, knowing we wanted to use something like that picture for the book cover.

Well, now…finally…it’s time for my first mystery to be published. And…it needs cover art. My talented mother has painted my book covers for the previous books. But for this one, we decided to use a photograph, of the actual clock that is our family heirloom and the inspiration for the book. The clock lives in my mother’s house, on her mantle.

Long story short, we’ve spent the last two or three weeks working on a photo shoot of this clock. My mother will shoot a pic, then email it to me and we’d go over it and try again. Bless her, I’ve been so demanding, and she’s been so accommodating. I’m a tough client, but rather than get mad at me, she treats this as a learning experience.

When confronted with the reality of taking a picture, the permutations of options reach infinity. There are so many options that it’s almost daunting. Knowing the clock, and knowing what lighting scheme I want, I know how I’d set up the photo shoot if I was there. Well, I wasn’t there, and do you know how hard it is to explain the trigonometry of lighting angles over the phone!?!?! LOL

In the middle of this, Mom and Dad head off and end up buying a new camera, bless them.

So, we get to yesterday, and finally, I told Mom to stop taking pictures. I thought I had the optimum one….but I told her to not break down her photo area, in case we needed to try again.

So, what can we take away from this experience? Number 1: I have the most awesome mother in the world. Her work as an artist is outstanding, but she took this experience of ‘me being so demanding’ and turned it into a learning exercise of how to become a better photographer. Number 2: I didn’t realize I had so much info in my head about photography (both video and still). I’ve been studying this, very actively for 5 years. When I think about my work, all I can see is the vastness in front of me of: all that I do not know. There is soooo much to learn; cameras/angles/settings/lighting/sound/software/computers/outputs/codecs/bit rates, etc. I don’t often stop to think of: what I’ve learned already. It’s nice to take that pause and breathe and realize that I have accomplished something already.

Here’s the clock. Now I need to turn this into a book cover. Easier said than done!

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