Well I’m not into romance novels but I was lucky enough to photograph New York Times best-selling romance author Lisa Kleypas. I shot these in 2007 originally for St. Martin’s Press for her first book with them, Sugar Daddy.
Lisa has written over 20 books in her career. The funny thing is when she first called me, I didn’t know at the time where she lived and I had insisted we first meet face-to-face before any photos would be taken as I always want to meet my clients/subjects at least a few days before a shoot. This is how you start to build rapport and learn about the inner-beauty of your subject. The outer-beauty is a always there. She agreed and I met with her and her husband.
What I didn’t know, her house, at the time, was only about 45-minutes up the road from mine. One of her biggest concerns was that she wanted to connect to her readers, mostly women and that she didn’t want anything too sexy, but at the same time something that still portrayed her beauty at her age (let’s just say very early 40’s), mother of two children and wife to a husband of many years.
Her biggest concern was that “previous photos taken by a photographer made her look fat and though she didn’t have her girlie figure from back when she was in college she just wanted to show her natural beauty.” Those were her words. I must say, she is a beautiful woman and the most down-to-Earth person you’ll ever meet.
I quoted her and St. Martin’s Press, her publisher, a price. In that quote, I told them I didn’t care if it took three hours or three days, we’d shoot till they’d be happy with the final images. I also told Lisa that I normally do “private glamour” shoots in my subject’s homes because they are comfortable in their own environment. Lisa didn’t want to shoot in her home though, as beautiful as her house on acreage is, she wanted to shoot in my home because she felt that she worked at home (writes her books there), takes care of her husband and children there too. She wanted to get away, so we agreed that the shoot would be at my house.
We planned the shoot for two weeks down the road when our schedules worked for each of us. I left her a copy of my first book so she could understand my photography and she gave me an advanced copy of Sugar Daddy to review. The book was more contemporary than her traditional romance novels and I must say, once I picked it up to read, I couldn’t put it down.
When she finally showed up, around 10:00 a.m., because she had to drop her kiddos off at school, she showed me what she had brought to the shoot. This is where I pay close attention. When a subject says I like this outfit, this is my favorite, I just bought this, etc., I key in on the “favorites.” The favorite outfit will be the last one I’ll photograph her in, especially since we’ve never worked together. The idea is simple, by the time we get comfortable with each other through the rapport building process of a shoot, I want her in what “she feels” makes her look best. This combination of comfort in working with me and the comfort of her favorite clothes is a unique synergy that creates a condition of success.
In all photography of people, it’s about the face, not what they are or are not wearing. If my subject is finally comfortable with me, as I am with them, it will show on her face and which results in the corners of the eyes being in harmony with the corners of the mouth to allows the subject to give me that perfect smile.
Lisa told me her favorite was the “black dress” you see here to the left.
So that was the last item of clothing she brought that that I photographed her in before the shoot ended.
If you notice the clock in the background, which just happened to be there, the time is almost 12 noon, or is it 12 midnight? Actually it was 12 noon. Lisa was so easy to photograph, that between all the changes of clothes, I think she changed four or five times, we were basically “playing around” shooting toward the end of two hours as we both felt (a marriage of the minds) we had accomplished our goal–probably at least thirty-minutes before this shot was taken.
The photo chosen by St. Martin’s Press, which I was not happy with the fact they cropped it to a head-shot for her book back cover, was the one below. Both Lisa and I liked them both plus a few others.
When I delivered the photos to Lisa, she was happy. I had sent her “web versions” for pre-approval via email. She called me and said, “Rolando, my editor says just one-word, beautiful!” She was happy, St. Martin’s Press was happy and I was happy. About a week later, a St. Martin’s Press editor calls me up and asks for a price quote so they could use the photo of Lisa in the black dress, which is still my favorite, for her book after Sugar Daddy. Apparently the next book was titled, Mine till Midnight and because the clock in the background was almost at twelve, they had to have that image image for that book–I loved it, made two sales!
More important, I was happy I was able to photograph an amazing woman and author and I made her and her publisher happy with the work we did. One quick note, remember I told you Lisa said she didn’t like her previous photos because the photographer made her look fat. When Lisa and I discussed that, I told her, it’s real simple, anytime a photographer shoots any person with their hips straight into the camera, the lens perspective will always add weight to your body. By merely turning the hips slightly in one direction, it goes away–that’s it, a simple technique that showcases the body’s natural beauty and curves by turning the hips slightly in one direction away from the camera–notice Lisa’s poses in the photos above? The photo used in the book Mine till Midnight really demonstrates the correct angle of the hips toward the camera.
My images were used not only for books, but for sales promotions of the books too. For you photographers, usage fees were in the original quote to St. Martins Press as all photographers should be paid on usage too.
Finally I close by sharing Lisa’s own words from her blog post on Squawk Radio asI felt honored by her words that I stumbled upon the Internet.
A few months ago, I asked for your advice and opinions about author photos, and here is the result! This is the photo that will go on the back of Sugar Daddy. Lisa-au-casual. It was taken by an incredibly talented photographer, Rolando Gomez, who is great at making women look their best. He finds the right angles and the right lighting, and he makes you feel comfortable and unselfconscious. The photo hasn’t been touched up or photoshopped . . . which leads to the following confession: Before the first picture was even taken, I was looking forward to that photoshopping.
I mean, even nineteen year-old models who weigh 105 pounds and have perfect skin and big wide-spaced eyes get photoshopped. You can take anyone and find things to improve. Whiter teeth, smaller waist, longer legs, darker or lighter hair . . . I was all ready for the full Katie Couric treatment.
At the moment, I weigh twenty pounds more than I did in the eighties, when I was frantically following the Jane Fonda workout video. Some parts of my body have succumbed to gravity, and after the birth of two children, my waistline will never be the same. I use wrinkle cream, and any number of lotions and potions, and I’m never sure if they’re making a difference.
But here is the great thing about being in my forties : I like myself so much more than I did in my twenties. I’ve become comfortable with me. I’m sure part of it is because of my husband, who has seen me at my worst, but looks at me through the eyes of love. He proclaims me a goddess as I shuffle through the house in my robe and fuzzy slippers, wearing glasses and a crooked ponytail. And I think there’s something really liberating about reaching your forties. You get a sense that life is to be lived and enjoyed, and that perfection is not the goal. In fact, perfection (and the pursuit of it) can get downright boring.
Thanks to Rolando, most of my flaws are hidden by the way I’m posed, and good lighting takes care of the rest. I could have asked him to pare down the waist and make me look longer, taller, younger, but as I looked at this photo, I thought, ‘You go, girl. Just the way you are.–Lisa Kleypas
Thanks, I hope you enjoyed this post. Rolando