Shooting erotic book cover photographs is not difficult but requires a little thought and preparation.
Start The Right Way (Up)
Book covers are generally vertical. Even e book readers are usually used in vertical format. No publisher is going to redesign their book to fit your horizontal photo, no matter how good it is. I have sold hundreds of pictures for covers and only one was horizontal. The publisher wanted to wrap it around the front and back covers.
This may sound obvious but I recently saw a mass of entries for a magazine cover competition. The publisher stated ‘our magazine is vertical format so we need an upright picture for the cover’. Nearly a third of the entries were horizontal.
Many years ago, when the only things that were digital were your fingers or your watch, I won a photographic magazine’s cover girl competition. Not me personally you understand – one of my photographs.
A couple of weeks later an excited young photographer and his girlfriend, who just happened to be the scantily clad subject of the winning photograph, arrived at a posh Park Lane hotel for the prize giving. I don’t remember much about the event apart from one rather disparaging comment from the editor. ‘Your picture won because you were the only one who left space for the title.’ This was probably not the most tactful thing to say to an aspiring young photographer about his first competition win.
Over a hundred book and magazine covers later, ‘You won because you left space for the title’ turned out to be good advice. As photographers we strive to create a well composed image which often means tightly cropped. Designers love something they call copy space. That is blank or featureless background they can drop copy or logos into.
The titles of some of these books do appear over the subject but the designer has plenty of blank space to put the logo on.
Know Your Market
Silvermoon’s books were generally on the themes of BDSM, submission and spanking. Bums (butts, bottoms, derrieres) sold books. A lot of sales were of real books so the covers could be full or three quarter length as they were being viewed paperback size.
The e book publisher above preferred closely cropped, anonymous images as these were being viewed as thumbnails.
No Nipples Please
Nudity is fine but most of the major distributors and retailers, both in the real and virtual worlds, have a policy of no visible nipples or pubic hair. Amazon does seem to relax this for photo book covers but fiction publishers seem to err on the side of modesty probably to make sure their books are accepted across all platforms.
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Simon Pocklington is a professional photographer with a wealth of experience.
He has published several books on photography.