With every book cover, I use the basic fundamentals of photography: lighting, rule of thirds, lines, and proportion. Today, I'd like to talk about proportion.
Proportion is what made me spend so much time selecting the two women for my Dunwoody's book cover, which we discussed on the blog before.
I wanted two different girls with the same high and distance from the camera lens.
Notice: The hat of the girl on the right and where her fingertips touch her leg are equal in size and distance to the girl on the left. One is not bigger than the other. This is proportion.
Here's a different example:
One day, I am going to finish writing this story, but be that as it may, notice the size difference between the girl and the cowboy. Though there is a vast difference, what makes this proportionate is that the viewer does not expect her to be in the same frame as him. He is a backdrop, so to speak, almost coming from her thoughts.
Now, had I made him larger, he would have looked more as if he should be in the image with her, and it would have been out of proportion.
Example: Think of two heads on the same page. A girl from one picture. A boy taken from another. Despite the fact they were not in the same picture together, what makes them look united on the cover and thus, mentally, in the story? Their proximity to each other - they are anchored in some manner, the direction of their gazes are also the same (both facing the camera or both as profiles, but never a profile with a face shot. This is odd and will never look right).
BIG NO-NO: YOU CANNOT TAKE TWO PEOPLE FROM TWO SEPARATE IMAGES, SLAP THEM ON A BOOK COVER AND ALWAYS SAY IT WORKS. It doesn't.
Why? Results: If I'm photographing a food item, and I want to show the dish at it's best, I could put it on fine china, with a clean fork, use a DSLR and thousand dollar lens, or I could use a paper plate and take it with a cell phone. It's the same food product, but a totally different look. One makes me want to eat it. One does not.
Here, I have an example of proportion from within a single image. This was a crop taken from a larger image (below), and actually, there were several other views of this couple to pick from.
I chose this one thinking of how a 6"x9" crop would appear on a book cover. I liked the equal distances between their faces, that where her head touches the right side, his would touch on the left. It also presented a good contrast in skin tones between the two.
Here's a book cover, I just completed.
In fact, the couple has been cropped from the original image and tilted. (I also cleaned up the background, as it was distracting). The additional tilt gives them the appearance almost of swimming, and it gives them a better proportion on the page.
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Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.
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