Wednesday, November 4, 2020

PHOTO TIP #5 for Illustrating Your Next Book: THINK ON YOUR FEET

For many years I worked with professional photographers who illustrated my books with their photos. We worked as a team--I wrote the text and the photographer took the pictures. I learned a great deal about photography from them. Recently, I have been both author and photographer for several of my books, including Hatching Chicks in Room 6 and Butterflies in Room 6.
As I was cleaning out files recently I found a list of photo tips from my friend and fellow Grinnellian, Martha Cooper, a professional photographer best known for her photographs of subway art in New York City. She is also the illustrator of three children's books, My Two Worlds, Lion Dancer and Anthony Reynoso: Born to Rope

At a class we taught together some years ago she handed out a list of photo tips. Today, almost everyone is a photographer--we carry cameras in our pockets in our phones. Whether you are illustrating a children's book, creating a magazine story, or assembling a slide show or family album, or even just sharing a favorite photo with a friend, I think you will find her advice useful. She says:

LOOK and THINK before you shoot. A good eye is more important than a good camera.
Tip #5:  Be prepared with all equipment you will need and ideas for shooting. Many subjects have little time or patience for photography. However, be ready to think on your feet. If your pre-planned ideas are not working, be open to other options. You may not have a chance to come back. It's up to you to make the best of the existing situation. Editors aren't interested in hearing excuses about why you couldn't get the shot. (Martha Cooper)

Example: My 100th published book, African Animals, an overview of African wildlife, is illustrated with a single photo of each animal. As the author of the book, I was responsible for obtaining all the photos. Many of them were taken by me or my husband Art when we spent four months in Africa in 197l. But there were some animals for which we did not have good pictures. So, my solution was to get the photos from other sources. Most are from our good friend Owen Floody, who had traveled to Africa several times and has a special interest in animal photography. Here is his picture of two ostriches battling one another. He had the luck and patience to be at the right place and the right time to get this amazing photo. 


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