How to Shoot a Book Cover in 15 Minutes

Have you been offered a great assignment but been given a near impossible deadline? (Join the club, right?)

Photographer Jordan Matter had just such a dilemma recently when he was asked, at the very last minute, to shoot the cover photo for a new novel being published by Penguin entitled “The Grief of Others” by Leah Hager Cohen.

The book is about a family dealing with the loss of a child and the publisher was having a tough time finding the right cover art. Rather than go with something no one was happy with, they called in Jordan to see if he could capture an image that worked.

The twist was that while the novel was about a serious subject, the publisher wanted the image to offer a sense of hope while also suggesting mystery. And, oh yeah, the photo also had to have two essential items in it: home and light. Sounds challenging already, right?

The second twist was that Jordan would have only 48 hours to shoot it.

Here’s how he handled it:

“First, I needed to find the home. My wife suggested a stunning yellow Victorian, and I approached the owner – ‘Are you home tomorrow? Want a nice photo of your house?’. Then I needed to find the right mix of family members – kids had to be the right age, parents under 40 and attractive. I combined two sets of friends to obtain the perfect mix. We all met and waited for sunset. I had not done any location scouting nor did I bring any lighting, and proceeded with trust that it would work out. We turned on all the house lights, and as the skies darkened I shouted out directions from across the street. I took 100 photos in 15 minutes, and then it became night.”

That was just the beginning though. Read more on Jordan’s blog to find out how he got to the final image that made in on the cover (shown above).

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