When it was time to take the cover photos for Soul Uprising, I was already late. I’d been so focused on writing a manuscript and working through edits that I had completely forgotten the part of the book people see first: the cover. I was in total “it will be what it will be” mode when I showed up for the shoot (for those who don’t know me well--this particular mode tends to show up when I’m low on sleep and is not ideal for things that involve attention to detail such as posing for arguably the most important photo of my career to date).
Thankfully, I was working with Whitney Warne. When I met Whitney in person for the first time it was the day of the shoot, I was sitting in a makeup chair in her studio feeling unprepared, my dog was running around like a wild man, and I had no clue what I wanted this cover to look like. Whitney walked in and her positive spirit filled the studio like a heady perfume. She went through the outfits I had selected, prioritized them and picked which ones went with the various locations, and immediately put me at ease.
As the shoot started, she showered me with encouragement. I’m not talking about the sort of fake stuff that people say because they have to. One of the incredible things about Whitney is that she sees and celebrates the fabulousness in every person she photographs. When she says “Yasss, girl!” she means it. That’s an invaluable gift to a first-time author who is nervous about her cover shoot.
Whitney also helps to direct her subject in a way that is affirming. We all have angles that show off our most captivating features...and angles that are not so amazing. For me, I struggle to get the angle of my chin right. Too high and I look angry. Too low and I look timid. From her vantage point behind the camera, Whitney called out small position adjustments she knew would make the images look their best. She gracefully coached me to create the most compelling photos possible.
Once the shoot was over, the next step was selecting images. This wasn’t an easy task between 4 different outfits, three different locations and hundreds of photos. Whitney was also about to leave the country for a two-week trip. She went the extra mile to ensure that we’d have the photos in time to meet our tight deadline.
In the end, there were so many great images that we had a lot of trouble choosing. The outdoor images had a nice, natural feel to them. The studio images were dramatic and elegant. We ended up creating two different covers with Whitney’s photos. The first was a “safe” play that we used when we launched the pre-orders. It was a great choice, a sunny yellow dress and professional-looking pose that worked well on a dark background that made the title pop.
And yet, we kept coming back to this one image. Whitney had caught a genuine laugh during our studio shoot and there was something infectious about it. Sure, my posture was a little slouchy. But it was so honest and real and captured the joyous spirit of the closing of the book. We can’t wait to reveal it on July 16th.
Whitney, thank you so much for being the incredible force of nature that you are. It was such a pleasure working with you on this project.
To see more of Whitney’s work, check her out on Instagram (@ivoryhousephotography), Facebook, or at http://www.ivoryhousephotography.com/ .