Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Making of a Prestwick House Touchstone Classic Cover: Romeo and Juliet

by Jen Mendoza, Senior Graphic Designer

The value of a product is often reflected in the quality of its appearance. Here at Prestwick House, our line of Literary Touchstone Classic editions show some of our most creative covers. 

The capability of using our own original photography when possible, allows us to enrich a student’s imagination through a very unique perspective. As a designer at Prestwick House, I have full control over the entire process when given the challenge of designing a new cover for one of these Classics.

Romeo and Juliet

I was assigned the task of shooting a new cover for Romeo and Juliet back in May 2010, in order to replace the cover we had which was a painting—nice, but not the Prestwick brand. 

We would continue to print this cover until we satisfied certain preliminary requirements for the new one. 

Many details had to fall into place: location, models, costumes, and weather/season. Arranging these factors will shape the believability we strive to evoke, so students can relate to the novel with a single image. 

The most difficult part of this process was finding our models. I felt this cover needed to be a close-up shot of Romeo and Juliet—I was going for an instant connection with the main characters on the cover. Needless to say, finding the right people made my job as photographer and designer much, much easier.

Kelly and Farhad, our Romeo and Juliet.

Enter Romeo and Juliet

Our entourage arrives at the set location, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Wilmington, DE. Larry (Art Director), myself, Chris (Graphic artist and behind the scenes photographer), David (Photoshoot Consultant and PH IT guru), and local high school students Farhad, and Kelly make our way through the beautiful grounds to our predetermined scenic location. Here are our models, with costumes in hand, courtesy of Actor’s Attic in Dover, DE.

It was August 7th, 9:39 AM when our cameras first warm up with a few preliminary candid shots; then we quickly move on to test the lighting, camera angles, model positions, costumes and equipment.


We moved around a bit to test other locations nearby until we found the perfect spot.

These behind-the-scenes photos were all taken by Chris as the rest of the team worked the shoot. That’s me photographing Juliet.


Everyone on the team lent a hand. And as you can see by Chris’s photos, it was tough to determine where to shoot with so many possible locations and angles.

Here are just a few of the photos I shot in RAW with a Canon EOS Rebel 7D. One would actually become our cover.

 An hour into the shoot, we found our cover shot, though we didn’t know it at the time. I chose this image because I feel it captures the essence of the relationship between the two lovers. I considered the composition of the photo and how it would work in our new cover template and scrutinized every detail from the way Juliet’s hair fell, to the way the light hit their cheekbones. Every shoot is different. Preparation and research were a big part of pulling this shoot together. 

Before Photo Editing (notice Juliet's green nail polish)

After Photo Editing

The finished book cover.

Stay tuned: My next Touchstone Classic photoshoot will be for Gulliver’s Travels!