Monday, March 17, 2014

Interview with Period Images

I have a treat for my readers today! I have interviewed one of the places on the Internet where I buy my pictures for my book covers. Sit back and enjoy yourself as you read through these questions and answers. I was totally AMAZED with everything that goes on behind the scenes...

Period Images is a wonderful website. How did you come up with the idea for creating a website like Period Images with the great models wearing those wonderful period costumes?

It started with a frienship and a dilemma. I had written my first Regency novel and I could not find images that even remotely fit my idea of how my hero and heroine should look like, and most importantly, how their manner of dress should reflect the elegance of that era. This sentiment was shared by a veteran author I’ve never met in person yet has become a good friend and mentor of mine,—Marie Higgins. My friendship with Marie opened my eyes to the struggles of being an author; on what it was like to be in the shoes of a writer who must make every penny count. Cost of production is a reality one must face when crafting a book.  The cover, most especially, is a substantial concern. As we emailed back and forth on the seeming lack of acceptable images, I learned that other historical writers—not just the ones in my genre, have the same predicament. Of course, one can have a generic image modified and manipulated to fit a particular period, but not everyone could afford to shell out the amount of money required to make those kinds of changes. As a result, authors were forced to use whatever was within their budget, and settle with an image that most probably was not the one they had envisioned to grace their covers. For a Product Designer like me, this dilemma was something to ponder. My Creative team designs wardrobe for private clients and the entertainment industry. We have an extensive network of suppliers, fellow designers, and models in Los Angeles. I know my team and I, are well-equipped to solve this problem and do it in the way it should be done—with care, attention to detail, the right models, and proper Period costuming. Thus, with Marie’s help, I acquired more information on what her author friends were specifically looking for. As soon as the wish-list arrived in my inbox, the challenge began,––and a project was born.        

Who creates these amazing costumes? Could you tell us a bit about your staff and what they do?

It takes a village of skilled staff to create Period Costumes. My chief Wardrobe Specialist, Arleen Brown, researches the attires and proposes the concept to me. Upon approval, we do Color Mastering, sourcing and fabric selection. Then, the materials go to  one of my top designers, Rosa Candelario, who has extensive experience in film costuming, and Marcie Hernandez, my design consultant, to execute the attires. Once the basic ‘shells’ are submitted, Arleen goes back to me to consult with the right embellishments and trims. Upon approval, the shells go to one of Arleen’s assistants to finish the designs. (That is, if Arleen will willingly let them finish it. She tends to get “attached” to the costumes, LOL) Then, all that is left is assembly and fitting–—which for some perverted reason, I always become the Guinea pig.   

Sheri McGathy...I think I want this pic next!!!

If authors / cover artists are looking for models in period clothing and with props? For example: A girl in period clothing, perhaps dressed in a winter coat/cape, warm bonnet, muffler, sitting on a bench or box, lacing up her skates. Is Period Images considering staged poses with no backdrops?

Yes! In fact we have just released a set of images in a garden setting and other props. As long as the requested props or wardrobe are readily available, this should not be a problem. 

Sometimes cover artists find the perfect look in a model, but maybe they are wearing the wrong clothes. Have you considered creating a “clothes closet” – a series of shots of just the costumes laid out or hung up at various angles so the cover designer can change the models clothes…sort of like paper dolls?

For this one, because we have so many images of our models in costumes in different poses already, I think it would be easier to just trade the models’ heads, instead of trading the attires. But if you must absolutely have the dress on a hanger or whatever, it’s no biggie—we can take a quick shot for you. In fact, we just did that for someone who was looking to extend a dress so that it encompasses the front and back cover of a book.

Before starting Period Images, did you have friends who were models? How do you go about finding your models? What, to you and your staff, is the “perfect,” model?

Yes. Because we design very high end events, it is common to meet models. We knew quite a few and I was friends with the owner of a model staffing agency. On how we find our models––it’s weird, because most of the time, they find us! Jax Turyna, who is a well-known cover model and a part of P.I. staff, found me before I found her! I almost never have to do casting calls unless it’s crucial, or I am looking for a very specific look. Most of our models are referrals from our current models. Authors and Cover Artists also send a bunch our way to check out.
The perfect model for me is someone who is bankable. In other words, one who is psychologically matured, professional, industrious, and goes out of his way to promote his work. Someone who is reliable and will not do things that would be detrimental to his carreer or the companies he represents. I like to invest in people who I know will deliver results, and will be an asset not only to my company, but also to my clients. 

Briefly describe a normal photo shoot from start to finish.

The crew normally comes in an hour before the shoot. Wardrobe crew goes into a quick meeting on which attires will be worn by which model on what shoot. MUAs (Make-up Artists) and Hair Stylist go to their designated areas to prep their stuff. Then, I do a quick briefing for everyone on the shoot schedule, models’ looks, hair, attires, and how much time is alotted for MU and Wardrobe changes.
The first batch of models come in 45 minutes before the shoot. They go into make-up, hair, and then wardrobe. I brief them with the script for the Exclusive shoots we are doing. Photographer comes in a half hour before shoot starts and begins prepping the equipment.
As the shoot progresses, more models start coming in and the same routine takes place. The photographer and I do several consults during the day to make sure we are getting the right shots and we’re happy with the results. I also check the models’ looks several times to make sure their appearance is right for the type of shoot we are doing. During the actual shoot, two assistants monitor the hair, make-up and wardrobe, and do touch-ups as needed.
At the end of the shoot, everyone usually hangs around to talk, wind down, and eat.

Do you have a memorable moment?

I have several, but I assume you’re talking about my experience with Period Images. It was the night after our last big shoot in December. After everyone had left and I was all alone, I sat in the dark, staring at my computer screen, at the page where some of the book covers with our images where showcased. As I browsed through them one by one, I felt a sense of accomplishment—not just for me, but for all the people who worked hard to make these images possible, for all the authors who had mentored and supported us along the way, and the cover artists who had taken our images and turned them into works of art. Once again, I acknowledged and  re-affirmed, that there are no coincidences. Marie and I met for a reason, and our friendship had a purpose. And for all it’s worth, everything worked out for the better good.   

What other plans do you have in the works?

Top secret for now—we love surprises, lol

So, would you care to tell us a little about you away from Period Images?

As a person, I am funny, a foodie, and I understand everything that has got to do with design, except for when it comes to dressing myself. When I am clueless about something, I am never embarassed to admit it and ask for directions. I don’t care about popularity; what I do care about is genuine friendships. Oh, and I love cats!

If you could have one free do over in life with no repercussions, what would that be? 

I would write and tell more stories.

THANK YOU PERIOD IMAGES for letting me interview you!!  I have been VERY happy with the pictures I've found for my covers. I have had a bunch of great covers (thank you Sheri McGathy / cover artist) and I just can't help but show them off. :)  Okay, so these two are my favorites, I think. Now I just need to write their stories...

You can find them at


VJ Dunraven said...

Thank you for interviewing me, Marie! :)

Unknown said...

Great interview!!! Great company and Amazing people!!!!!! I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with them.

Marie Higgins said...

VJ and Jax, this has been a lot of fun! I really can't wait for the day that we meet in person. And it WILL happen!!

Anonymous said...

Very good and hey, your blog works!!! I hope someday to meet all of you! VJ thanks for taking the time to do this! Sheri McGathy

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

I really love that you're doing correct period costumes. It's so hard to find, even for publishing companies.

Gina Danna said...

Very nice! Love the last pix - looks suspiciously like a Roman cover - I like that!!!!! Period correct is so hard to find & wonderful to hear they do it!

Louisa Cornell said...

What a fascinating interview! It is so interesting to discover everything that goes into making a great cover. And what a great job to have! Hard work of course, finding the right costumes and the right models and the right settings, but I imagine when it all comes together it is completely worth it!

Vamp Writer said...

Interesting interview! I'd like to find a drawing or picture of the following that came to me in a "dream" as described on p.4 of my 1st adult paranormal-romance series "Immortal Relations" on Amazon: "Seeing her, dressed like a high fashion model in a light blue, lacy, scalloped, and layered, yet shape-hugging, haut-couture, dress, I gasped; My God she was stunningly beautiful!" Any chance you've run across such a picture or drawing?

Weaver said...

Wow, these are gorgeous. Interesting interview.