Trying to sum up someone’s career for a biography cover is not easy. Mostly publishers go for a stock image of the subject at the height of their fame or get a new and approved career head and shoulders shot and leave it at that. I wanted something a little more interesting for an upcoming book about singer / guitarist / songwriter Graham Bonnet. He became best known during his time fronting the rock band Rainbow, but is still touring and, with a career stretching back to hit singles in the late sixties (and beyond to semi-pro bands in Skegness), it seemed better to try and find something which captured as much if this as possible. Initially I wasn’t hopeful but two photo shoots looked likely. One turned out to have been used a lot on the web to promote a recent tour, so would be very familiar to fans. There’s nothing worse than seeing a well known image on a book cover, it always suggests a lack of effort on someone’s part. The other shoot was more obscure but really caught something of the journeyman feel of a rock musician, stood on a street corner with a guitar, nice long late afternoon shadows disappearing into the distance.
When we finally tracked the source down, the monochrome original turned out to be well composed in camera; the photographer knew what he was doing. But if it filled a DSLR frame perfectly, it was the wrong format for a square book. The only solution was to clone enough of the background to enable the image to fit the page size. I wanted to do this quickly as the design needed to be cleared by the artist, author and photographer. My thinking was not to spend too much time in case a problem arose in the approval process.
Although the photo is recent, Graham’s time with Rainbow needed alluding to on the cover, so I decided to overlay a subtle rainbow tint which was achieved using a massively blurred found image and blending it in using layers. I felt I’d overdone the strength of the colours so produced a paler version but it was the stronger one which was actually preferred.
The publisher may have to sticker up the front to list some of the ‘names’ to help the book trade but otherwise it’s just needing me to recreate the image again but this time in in hi-res, and as the photographer has kindly zipped me a large file version, I’d better get on with it…!
There are more details on the book itself on the publisher’s website.