One of our photos was plucked from obscurity to be on the cover of a new Stranger Things book series! How did this happen? More importantly, will my kids finally think their Dad is cool?!
In 2015 someone suggested I go check out Berry College in Rome, Georgia for a day of photography. Although it was a five hour drive from my house, I knew it was a large campus with about 1,500 deer living amongst the students; a large water wheel; a stone church; beautifully architected buildings, plus it would be a new place to explore with Shell so we grabbed some snacks and hit the open road!
While visiting Berry we took quite a few photos of the buildings, some of which we didn't stand close enough to even understand what the building was for - but the architecture was just cool in so many ways. At that time, most of what I shot was bracketed which means I will take 3 photographs of the same subject, at different exposure levels and then merge the 3 images together for a final image.
Below are the 3 images I captured of a chapel on campus grounds followed by the single image that resulted from the merger.
I posted that merged photo onto Google Maps and went on with my life. For me it was a "throw away" image, meaning it was fun to experience, fun to share, but I couldn't sell it because I don't sell photos in the area of Berry College so no one back home would recognize it. It's not what I consider a "universal" image that could be sold no matter where you are, because location of the subject doesn't matter. Like a photo of a frog, for example. Little did I know.
In 2021 I received an email from an editor at Random House Children's Books, asking if I had taken the photo because they wanted to manipulate and use the photo for the book cover. WHAT? My kids are huge fans of the show and have converted me as well, so I didn't hesitate to a yes. It wasn't about the money, although I'm grateful to have been paid for it. I probably would have just given them the image for the chance to have a photo in the book, with photo credit! It was easy to accept that the image wouldn't likely be recognizable after they elongated it, added red tint, changed the sky and just generally made it look "creepier". In fact, I couldn't wait to see what they were doing with the image!
Here it is to compare with the original above, wow! There may be no such thing as a "throwaway" image in my mind, ever again. They breathed great life into that photo! If you want to buy the book, "Hawkins Horrors", this is not a sponsored placement but the link to the book is below and you should check it out!