The Prepping of a book cover shoot::Part I

Book Cover Prep Besotted Blog

Before I start this post, I do want to do what I never like seeing other bloggers do and apologize for my absence.  I am sorry, I want to be here more than anything and I am working on trying to figure out the next phase of this here site and how I can come back on a more frequent basis.  I am not doing great on the work/mom  balance (or juggle) and trying to figure out how to do that; obviously it’s possible I see others doing it and flourishing (and it kind of makes me feel super inept) but I will persevere and hopefully I can share soon what worked for me and my chronically inept mommy self! And now back to the post…

On Instagram last week I made a mention that we (Michelle and myself) were in the process of prepping for a book cover shoot!  The amazingly talented Sanae Ishida (pron. sun-eye) is working on her second book this year (a very unique take on a sewing book) and asked Michelle and I to help out with the book cover shoot. We were so honored to be chosen for this incredible opportunity (Sanae is both a talented photographer and stylist in her own right, so it’s an extra honor and a whole lot of extra pressure!)  Michelle and I are always fascinated by the creative process and the challenge of figuring things out and this has definitely been a learning curve. There isn’t exactly a book or resource on how to shoot a book cover so we thought we would show you our process and behind the scenes. We shoot this week, a two day shoot, the second day at Aran of Cannelle et Vanille‘s famed studio!

The way it worked in our situation (which I am sure is different for everyone), we were given the idea of the book from our ‘client’, in this case Sanae.  I was very familiar with Sane’s aesthetic, I am a huge fan of both Sanae personally and professionally (she is someone we definitely need to be able to interview in the future). We were then introduced to the art director of Sanae’s publisher where links to portfolio’s were shared to see if we would past muster (wiping brow we did!) We decided that Michelle would shoot and I would style. Michelle has been the co-professor for our foto classes for years and some may be familiar with her work, she has an amazing eye for light, is very creative herself and happens to be super organized to boot. I wouldn’t consider myself a stylist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe I have a good eye and have a firm grasp on our client’s aesthetic and am hoping to be able to translate that into the directives we were given both by the client and the publisher (which can vary wildly, in this case the publisher is suggesting more palette options, so not so far off from the clients vision).

Most clients will not have the sheer volume of props that Sanae had, I am assuming most clients won’t have much at all, but we were extremely fortunate that Sanae did, so we are pulling from her extensive collection.  I actually love this fact because it feels even more authentic to me that we will be using Sanae’s treasures. It seems we all are a bit Type A so Sanae had photographed all the items based on our discussions and added them to a shared Drop Box file.  Michelle and I then got together and based on the Art Directors notes put together our shot lists.  We are utilizing two different locations so the shot lists took both locations into consideration.

For me one of the most important questions was, ‘what will the size of the book be?’. This is important because you may have a vision of a photo in mind but once put in the actual book dimensions may not work at all.  I found this to be a huge detail!  Michelle even printed out a page with a blank box with the dimensions so we could have a better visual on it. At our brainstorm meetings Michelle decided that we should put together a visual shot list boards. We based the boards on what the shot would be ‘ie. our pull back shot’, then we figured out a palette for that shot (this may be the same shot with different palette options), we used the photos of the props in Dropbox to pull the prop images we would like to try to utilize for that shot into our template (what you see in the above photo). This made it so much easier for us to discuss the shots in mind for the client and the art director and we were really able to make headway on the planning of the shoot without communication problems. I say it was a win! We do our first shoot in studio on Thursday so if you have specific questions or photo requests of pullbacks of the process you are interested let us know soon.

Part II coming soon!


Sanae Ishida

Sasquatch Books

Vicinity Studio

Shot on location at Macarina Bakery using VSCOCAM with Iphone 5

Template created with Photoshop & Illustrator

File sharing: Dropbox


9 thoughts on “The Prepping of a book cover shoot::Part I

    1. Thank you Chiara! I was actually smart and wore sneakers, so happy I did, because as the ‘stylist’ I was doing a lot of the grunty work, lol.

  1. Love this, Tristan! Thanks so much for the mention — I feel so lucky that you and Michelle are taking this project on!! The talents of both you lovelies never cease to amaze me.

  2. Hello Tristan, thank you for sharing your experience on this photo shoot and all the work behind creating the look and feel for the cover of a book. I had the pleasure of visiting Aran’s Goyoaga studio last spring (during a Seattle blogger’s meetup) and the studio is magical to say the least. I was there during the evening, the light was still amazing, milky white! Can’t wait to hear part II of your post, and final product :)
    All the best, Ursula

    1. Ursula, it is a beautiful studio! And it was so amazing to even be in Aran’s presence for a few minutes, it’s very inspiring for me, her praise is well deserved!

  3. What an awesome opportunity, I’m enjoying reading about your experience. The mom/work balance is tough…and here’s a hint-there’s just no such thing. Forget trying to find balance and just learn to ride the ebb + flow off them both. Easier said than done…I’m still trying! xo

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