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it’s a real pleasure to welcome chris borgman
to a little sweet, a little sour. who’s chris, you ask?
he’s the talented photographer who designed the
cover for my debut, Silver Phoenix. i hope you enjoy
the interview and the images, taken with permission
from chris’ site at chrisborgman.com.

his mermaids are my personal favorite.

chris, could you tell us a little bit about your background, and
how you found your way to photography as a creative medium?

My first love was music.  I started playing guitar when I was about 12
or 13 yrs old.  When I got a little older I would sneak my camera into
rock concerts so I could capture my favorite bands.  I started playing
bands that would travel around Texas, my home state.  I would buy a
stack of fashion magazines for the long road trips.  I would spend
many hours looking at all the photos studying the lighting and the
model’s movements.  The guys in my band thought I was weird for
reading women’s magazines but I wanted to have a back-up plan.
Eventually I quit the band and started shooting more seriously,
eventually professionally.

i’ve been an admirer of your website portfolios ever since
i found out you would be the one shooting my cover.
your photos are so bold and vivid, whimsical, fantastic,
far-fetched–they evoke a wide range of emotion. but
they always surprise me as a viewer. can you tell us what
inspires you? when approaching a subject or an
assignment–how do you arrive at your final vision?

Most of the time there’s some kind of external stimulation, I see
something, or in your case, I read your book.  (Very good BTW!) As I
was reading my mind creates a visual interpretation, just like
everyone else.  The only difference is that my visuals are constructed
in a virtual photo studio in my head.  Obviously in your book some of
the visuals were so complicated that I just enjoyed them knowing they
would be to hard to recreate for a book cover.  After I read the book
I presented a few ideas to the art director and publisher for
consideration.  Changes were made, as usual, and then a plan of
action was created.

Living in NYC I see some pretty interesting things, these can be
inspirational also.  One day I saw a Muslim woman walking
through the subway fully covered wearing some big ass
headphones on her head.  I was so amused by this, what was
she listening to?  I assumed it was probably some inspirational
faith music so with that I created 2 similar images, a nun and an
Indian woman wearing Bose headphones with
the caption “Faithful Reproduction.”  And there is other two
dimensional visuals like illustrations and other photography.
Illutrations are a great source cause they are created without
limitations such as models or locations.  I take these influences,
mix ’em all up and then spit out something new.

i believe you were fairly new to book cover shoots when
you did the one for SILVER PHOENIX. can you tell us
your experience with this shoot? was it different as there
was a “character” to work with from an actual novel?

It was a little different, maybe, cause the character was already
created and was not flexible.  But that can be the case in other jobs
too.  The client wants to show a 30’s Latin woman enjoying her
product.  What I like about doing book covers is that after reading
the book you get more of a personality of the character, not just a
set of physical traits.

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what were some of the challenges you faced when you
did the SILVER PHOENIX cover? what were some of your

favorite things about working on this particular project?

I think the main and most important challenge was finding the right
model.  Because there were both physical and personality traits to
contend with the model had to convey everything in just one image.  I
like that Paul, the art director, allowed me a lot of freedom.

i think that you were the one that presented possible
models to us for this project. and i have to say, i was pleased
with many of the models i was shown initially, but then out
of nowhere, we had the actual model who did the cover. and
she was exactly how i envisioned my heroine–was this your
thought as well?

OK, I’ll take the credit. There were several models, like you said,
but one in particular stood out because of her “inner strength” that
she projected through her eyes.  She was not the model with the
prettiest face, but she had the “look,” as we say.  Ultimately it’s
the clients final decision on the model, but I kept pushing for this
model cause I saw what we needed from her.  When I met all the
models I took a few casual shots of each girl.  The models all have
portfolios but I wanted to see for myself what I was gonna get and if
the look in their pictures would be the same for me.  Once I did the
quick pics of the models I pretty much knew who I wanted to use.
Luckily I got my way! *wink*

i couldn’t be happier with the model we used.
she is exactly as i envisioned how ai ling would look!
could you relate something interesting to us that sticks out
in your mind during this photo shoot?

What was interesting and a little bit of a challenge was that we were
shooting for two book covers in one shoot, Silver Phoenix, and the
second unnamed book.  From reading the book we had plenty of
visuals for Ai Ling but very little for the new book, so we had to
imagine what she might wear and look like.  In the end I think it’s
gonna be great.  I’m looking forward to reading the new book and
completing the second cover.  It is exciting and I’m happy for your
success, Cindy.

thank you so much, chris! i’m really looking forward
to the sequel’s cover! and finally, one of the most
important questions of all–what is your favorite pastry? =)

Cup-cakes, chocolate with chocolate chips!

great choice! thanks so much for taking the time to
do this interview as well as sharing your photographs with us.
and of course, thank you for creating such an amazing cover
for Silver Phoenix!!

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16 thoughts on “interview with chris borgman”

  1. Those photos are gorgeous. No wonder your cover turned out so well! I love it that he takes photography and makes it into genuine art. What a fun interview–thanks, Cindy and Chris!

  2. WOW as a photographer I am absolutely entranced and fascinated by this interview. I think Malinda Lo had a similar interview with her cover artist and I must say I am so fascinated by the process and the relationship between artist and book (author).
    Thanks for the interview!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I love covers and photography, so it’s really neat to learn the story behind yours:) Which is gorgeous of course.

  4. Ok he is absolutely amazing! Those photos were all stunning and I am in awe! I thought your cover was amazing and now these mermaids are just WOW!!!!

  5. Wow! Absolutely gorgeous! The mermaids are beautiful, so ethereal. What a fun interview and insight into another part of making a book a reality. Thanks, Cindy!

  6. What wonderful photos! And it was really coo to learn about the book cover. Not that I’m anywhere close to that stage with any of my projects, but it’s reassuring to know that both the author and artist know a lot about the book and strive to keep its cover faithful to the story.

  7. so glad you guys enjoy the interview and fotos. and thanks, amanda! my editor is sending me a hard copy and i can’t wait to see it!

  8. Okay, I’m a mom . . . and watch MANY movies with my tykes. The picture with the orange and yellow flowers completely reminded me of the 2nd Stuart Little movie. At the end, they are all in the park and everything is red and yellow. It sticks in my mind. This interview reminded me of something my 7 year old said to me a month ago. He ran down the stairs about 11pm and yelled – “Mom! I finished my chapter book! Why didn’t you tell me it would be a TV in my mind!” The power of a book and a good picture . . .

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