We all know that saying about not judging a book by its cover. But what encourages someone to pick up a book? Its cover.
We decided pretty early on that the cover for Behind The Wheel: photographs from the Australian road needed an image that was striking, uniquely Australian, represented the book, was the right shape and also fulfilled particular design requirements.
A few months into the project, Jerry Galea, a very talented photographer who lecturers in photojournalism at RMIT, showed us a photograph of a Kombi van travelling along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. The beautiful photo was taken by Leonard Seberry, a former student of Jerry’s, and had most of the required elements, and more. With sun, surf and the road ahead of the driver, it oozed all that life on the open road represents.
But there was just one problem. The file size was way too small.
We were so in love with Leonard’s image that we contacted him to ask for the larger file. We were devastated to hear that he’d lost the original digital file (something every photographer fears because they know one day there might be a demand for it). Leonard’s only surviving image was just 5MB – a long way short of the cover’s required 35MB. Nonetheless, we figured that this was a problem that could easily be solved by a reshoot with Leonard.
But therein lay another problem. Leonard was no longer living in Victoria. He had moved to Queensland where there’s lots more sun and surf.
To his credit – although he was disappointed that we were unable to use his original photograph – we were rapt when he happily gave the thumbs up for us to replicate the image. And so the task fell to Jeff Crow, a terrific photographer who also lived near the Great Ocean Road.
All that was needed was to find the right car.
This time an Australian model was sought and a HJ Holden seemed about right. A station wagon with white wall tyres and venetian blinds would exude a retro 1960s carefree feel. Trouble was, when the shoot was done and the photos looked at, something just didn’t seem right. The green façade blended in too much with the surrounding vegetation and the car itself sat too low in the image.
And so, after scouring vintage car meets, an FB Holden was found, and as an added bonus, its owner Peter Hearsum had a teardrop trailer in matching turquoise attached to it. So back went Jeff Crow to the location’s vantage point to do it again. Again the editing team went through all the photos but again something wasn’t quite right. This time it was the light. The hills in the background were in shadow, which detracted from the overall idyllic vibe.
It took a further three times to schedule in the shoot, and then cancel it due to bad weather during a miserable Victorian winter, before the perfect day arrived.
It’s to Jeff Crow’s credit (and the editing team’s relief) that obscenities didn’t rain down the phone line when the request for the final shoot was made. Equally deserving of thanks is Peter Hearsum who again drove his FB along the scenic route some 20 more times. So, after finding the cover inspiration from Leonard, searching for the right car to cruise, and waiting several weeks for the perfect weather, it was – as Bullwinkle used to say to Rocky – “This time for sure!”
Then, designer Kelly Elphick worked her magic on the cover, Leonard Seberry was duly acknowledged in the book for his inspiration, and the cover for Behind The Wheel was born.
It was just like we said it would be.