After finishing Errol Morris’ book, Believing is Seeing, I’m anxious to test how my own subjective lens will interpret a book cover photograph. I had wanted to compare the covers of the books at the top of Amazon’s Best Sellers lists for adult and children’s books, but with the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games due out in theaters, both adult and YA lists are swamped. Well, I love children’s books, so off to its best sellers list I go!
Only to be foiled again. Believe it or not, a lot of children’s books have illustrated covers as opposed to altered photographs. Thus, the first random photograph-cover book I come across is….
Morris talked about our personal experiences and image-associations affecting how we view photographs (and their captions). In this case, I’m looking at my own reactions to the photos and titles (captions) on these two books.
The cover on the left appears simple. The whole background is black, leaving only the author’s name in blue, the title and subtitle in yellow, and a single slightly silhouetted, lit candle. Based on the subtitle, “God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian,” I immediately connect the candle with spirituality and prayer. However, it also makes me think of something very personal because the lit tip of the candle is so limited; the light from the flame doesn’t extend out into the surrounding black background. It just ends. Now, because light does not normally behave that way, I know the photo has been edited (a lot), but I don’t perceive this to be a project meant to document reality, so that’s a moot point for me.
The book cover on the right is, to me, a much more interesting photo. There are more colors, more lines of direction, and the title stands out a little more with its different sizes and colors. The door frame in the middle of the field also gives me a feeling of transition, and also of isolation.
I’d love to hear what kinds of impressions other people get from these photos! As we saw in Morris’ book, there are always many interpretations.
And for anyone who was curious, they wound up going with a third, completely different cover for the book. Go figure.