Sure, I get a call from the booking agent asking about my availability and the length of my hair. Sounds funny but the hair length is often a deciding factor whether you are right for the hero or not. Once that’s determined I am given an idea as to what kind of shoot it will be, that is will I be an aristocrat in a tuxedo, or a cowboy out on the range, or some Tarzan like figure saving the damsel in distress. One reason we are made privy to this information is that we often use some of our own clothes for a book cover shoot. In the instances that we need to be bare-chested or even more scantily clad we get to know if we need to be tan, and maybe watch the salt consumption the day before to be nice and lean for the camera.
So, come the day of the shoot, the female model and I get into our costumes if so required, and we are shown some pictures and/or sketches made by the artist or art director to give us an idea of what they will be looking for. At the shoot, there may be as little as two people (photographer and a model) or there may as many as eight people (two models, photographer, photographer’s assistant, art director, book author, and the artist). We shoot typically in front of a plain photographic paper backdrop; it’s up to the artist to add in the scenery. The photographer then sets up the lighting using a light meter and sets up a fan in the instances where they need wind tousled hair. Once that is all set up we assume our positions, the photographer then tells us to adjust ourselves to make the best use of the light and a test shot is taken. Before the advent of digital photography, this test shot was done with a Polaroid, now a digital camera can have the shot for all to see instantaneously on a large computer monitor and it can also be seen by an artist or art director across the globe in real time. That test shot will let everyone know if the lighting is right, once that is in check we go at it.
Again, since I started modeling things have changed for the better thanks to digital photography. In the past we took at least three rolls of film to make sure we got the shot, now we might take five pictures and get what they are looking for. It is up to us, the models, to play with the decided pose to capture the shot. The photographer, artist and/or art director will often guide us if they are looking for something special. Sometimes they end up doing something that is nothing like what was originally conceptualized and it turns out being the winning shot; at times, the models come up with the pose. Working with models that are more experienced makes the shoot go much quicker. Typically a book cover photo session takes no more than an hour, but there have been times that it has taken as long as two. It might not seem like much time, but in order to get those hot photos you often have to put yourself in to some unnatural positions and hold them there for long periods of time; I have often left a shoot feeling pretty worn out.
The models chosen should accurately depict the books heroes. I have done more than one cover where I am not so sure that I was the right man for the job, I did it anyway, and the clients were happy, so that’s all that matters. I think that in the case of a couple they have to look good together, they have to make a good and convincing couple. Then there is the lighting, in art, lighting is everything, a book cover’s image is no different. When I do a cover I try to convey as much passion as I can, the covers usually need a hero who is both strong but human, it’s up to me as a model to pass that along to the photograph. The less the photographer has to direct me the better job I am doing; it’s what I strive for.
Actually, I do have something very exciting coming up, my brother and I participated in a reality show called Bullrun that will start to air on Spike TV March 13th @ 10 pm EST. The show is based on super exclusive road-rally across the USA. We are up against eleven other teams and are all competing for a $200,000 cash prize. The contestants were required to rally across America as well as compete in challenges that tested our cars, skills, and wits; think The Amazing Race meets The Cannonball Run. We shot for 3 weeks and covered over 4000 miles through nine states.
It was an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait until it airs! Its like nothing that has ever been done before, we had a crew of over 200 people and enough equipment rigs to fill a town! Spike TV has already begun running promos and the advertising campaign blitz will be soon to follow. The Spike TV website has information, pictures, and videos of us and the other contestants. www.spiketv.com. I have also made a Myspace page with some info about me, nothing very elaborate but it has some home pictures of me and some stuff from the upcoming show. www.myspace.com/xjguy
Thanks for you and your reader’s interest in me.
Bullrun premieres on Spike TV March 13 at 10 pm
Prize winner will be announced tomorrow. The prize may take some time to be delivered. Richard broke his thumb in a skiing mishap and can’t sign his name!–He’s been doing our interview with a broken thumb!