It was April 26, 2013—just 238 years and seven days after the events written about in Fields of the Fatherless. Now, four women were about to attempt a photographic recreation of the book’s main character—Betsy Russell.
The day started early. I had to be at the house of the seamstress, Katie, by 7:45 a.m. to meet the young woman I’d hired to apply makeup to my model. The instructions were to make the model look as natural as possible. Just enough makeup so the lights didn’t wash her out.
While the make-up was applied, I hurried to the store deli to pick up sandwiches that I’d ordered the day before. I loaded them in the ice chest with the fruit plate and water that I’d already packed. I also got a few donuts for the model. 🙂
After picking up Katie and her granddaughter (the model), we drove to the next town to pick up Heather, my photographer. Excitement was growing as we were all working together on a project that was unique to all of us. As lovers of Early American history, it was a labor of love.
I sat next to my model as we drove to our destination. She wanted to know about the character she was portraying and she listened intently as I described her. She was totally swept up in the tale of Betsy Russell and seemed to relate well to the young woman depicted in my novel.
The day was perfect for a long drive and we praised God for the good weather. In April of 1775, a warm spring had settled on Massachusetts and our sunny skies in 2013 in the Midwest were a perfect match. Anticipation coursed through the car as we approached the 18th century Colonial home.
The wonderful homeowner welcomed us and made us feel completely at home. While my model went to put on her dress, Heather set up lights and umbrellas. I’d participated in several photo shoots before, so I knew the drill. It would take numerous photos of the same pose just to get a few that might be considered.
And might be considered was always in the back of my mind. It was completely possible that my publisher would not want any of the photos. But at least they’d know what I was envisioning for a cover. I prayed it would go well.
It went better than I could have imagined because an amazing thing happened. It was like our lovely model metamorphosed into Betsy Russell. I watched in awe as she stared out the window as though British Redcoats were just around the corner. At one point, she became so immersed in her character that tears welled in her eyes. For two hours time, she became Betsy.
My friend, Katie, ended up in tears as well, watching her beautiful granddaughter transform into the young colonial woman from long ago who survived a terrifying time in history. It was a moment that my friend will always treasure.
I think all four of us will forever hold that day dear in our hearts.
The day was not all seriousness, however.
At one point, the family cat showed up to participate in the photo shoot. She was right at home, even staring out the window with the model. I think she thought the Redcoats really were coming! The photo shoot kitty actually inspired the character of Pumpkin the cat in my novel. I hope you get to meet her in the pages of Fields of the Fatherless. 😉
Dozens—probably hundreds—of photos later, Heather wrapped up the photo shoot. We all laughed and shared some food and thanked our gracious hosts. Release forms were signed so that I’d own the copyright to the photos in order to give the rights to my publisher—in case they wanted them.
We were all sad to leave. It had been an inspiring day where everything came together. It was like the Lord had His precious hand in all the details, turning my imperfect human efforts into His perfect artwork. It was a masterpiece of synchronization that only He could orchestrate—and I give Him the praise for it all.
After this memorable day, the four of us waited for four months for the final decision from my publisher. And the decision was “yes.”
The designers at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas took a couple of the images and used their creative magic to produce the final cover. And I could not be more pleased and excited with the beautiful cover they created.
As a side note to our perfect day: Exactly one week after the gorgeous spring weather for the photo shoot, we had a snowstorm—on May 3. It was a record breaker for that date. 🙂
Come back on Thursday, September 26, for the business aspect of doing such a photo shoot. Part 3 of “Congratulations! It’s a — Book Cover”
Janet Grunst says
I really appreciate your sharing the odyssey of the making of the cover to Field of the Fatherless, Elaine. It’s both fascinating and informative. How gratifying to be able to watch how the Lord brought it all together. What a faith-builder for all involved.
Janet, it was definitely a faith-builder. So happy you’re enjoying it. 🙂 I’ll write about the not-so-artistic but very practical, business side of the photo shoot on Thursday.
Laura Frantz says
So thrilled for you, Elaine! I think it is a wonderful thing to be so involved in a cover. I’ve often longed for the experience you’ve had with this. The images are so exquisite and true to the period! Love hearing the details and how the Lord delighted you in so many ways, blessing all the time and thought you put into this.
Thank you, dear Laura! I remember you sharing about the creation of your last cover image and I was so fascinated with your story. You’re one of my inspirations! Blessings. 🙂
Lisa Norato says
The story of creating your cover has been fascinating, Elaine. I think it so great that you were able to have such input into the cover and you did a fantastic job. Have to say, I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE the kitty photo. How precious!