Nailing a Picture for a Book Cover

Dian Lynn McGyverHere I go again. A few months ago, I tried to get a suitable head shot to post alongside my published work. The pictures turned out okay, but for some reason, the quality was poor. I thought I had sufficient lighting, but the images appeared grainy. You can read more about that here: Exposure Time.

With a paperback novel set to come out in the next month or so, I needed a sharper image for the cover. Although I’m not eager to get my picture taken, I realise it is part of the writing business so accept the necessary evil.

I’m not the only writer who thinks she needs 101 snaps from which to choose just one that might pass as okay. Laura Best was in the same situation not long ago. You can read her post here: A Wrinkle in Time.

I’ve been using a camera since I was about eleven years old, and I worked at a photo lab for more than two years, so I’m no stranger to photography. I’m far from perfect, but I can take a reasonable picture when the need arises. However, I seldom step in front of the lens, and as you’ve probably guessed, it’s time-consuming and very difficult to get a good picture of yourself when you’re behind the camera. So I had to recruit a photographer to work the shutter.

Since the two older kids were still eating their ice cream, the nine-year-old offered to pull the trigger since he’d already licked his bowl clean. With the tripod in one hand and my digital camera in the other, my son and I started for the small patch of forest in the backyard. It was a bright, sunny day—terrible for taking pictures of people—so we sought the shade of the deciduous trees.Photographer

I set up the equipment and my son informed me he knew how to work everything; he’s an expert. After a few test shots, he began snapping away. He’s so enthusiastic about this sort of stuff. Within 15 minutes, he had taken more than 40 pictures. I then put him on the other side of the lens to capture my photographer. Yes, we often call him Ham…our future Jim Carey.

The key with this session was to find shade and to set the camera back from the subject—me—so the lens could zoom in. This helps compress everything and blur the background. The distance between me and the camera was about 15 feet. The full picture looks like the one below. I’ll crop it to wallet size before using it.

Diane Lynn McGyver

It’s quite incredible the different images one can get in a given time. A little turn here, a little there, hair on the shoulders, hair clipped up…dozens of different images all from one person in a short span of time.

If you’re doing your own photo shoot to capture an image for your blog, website or book cover, take lots, dozens even. This is the wonderful advantage to digital cameras.

Ensure your camera settings are set on maximum quality. Mine is 5.3 MP (mega pixels). With this quality, I can blow up the image to poster size…not that I’d want my face staring at me poster-size.

Have you struggled to get the right image—one you’re happy with—to post with your writing?

Diane Lynn Tibert

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Diane Lynn Tibert - Shadows in the StoneNow Available at Kindle, Chapters Indigo (Kobo) and Smashwords (where you can read half the novel before you decide to buy).

Reviews for Shadows in the Stone can be found at Goodreads.

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5 thoughts on “Nailing a Picture for a Book Cover

    • Thanks, Darlene. My little guy is very expressive. I’m threatening to put a wig on him and take pictures for the Shadows in the Stone book trailer. He’s the perfect size for a hauflin. Of course, he wants money if I ‘hire’ him. lol

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