Photos for Book Covers

View from Mistaya Lodge

I love to write. My books are mystery novels set in the Canadian wilderness, and I self publish with First Choice Books in Victoria, B.C. They do all the design work and printing, but for the covers they need photos, which I provide from my trips. One would think that with thousands of photos to choose from (I’m an enthusiastic amateur), that shouldn’t be a problem, but unfortunately, I usually shoot horizontal format, and book covers require a vertical orientation, at least for the front. Sometimes Felicity, my designer, can crop a horizontal photo, as was done for the book above. But it’s better to provide her with verticals to choose from.

I just submitted the text for my next book, Nahanni, along with several photos. The story involves a rafting trip on the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories, so somewhere on the front or back, I want to show Virginia Falls (the iconic feature of the Nahanni), the river, and a raft. What I like, what I want, and what can be actually be used can differ. The photos below illustrate some of the problems.

My favourite photo of the falls, but it fails a crucial test: there’s no place for the book’s title.

Virginia Falls from the air.

So I found some photos taken from below the falls. This one has all three elements plus space for a title, but the raft isn’t very exciting.

Virginia Falls

This is a better photo, but there’s no raft and very little river.

Virginia Falls

Here the raft is great, there’s lots of river, but the falls are minimized.

Departing from Virginia Falls

The next one is probably not suitable for the front, but my tale is dark, and it might find space on the back.

Chaos at the crest of Virginia falls

Here’s another of my favourites. The scenery’s beautiful and majestic, and there’s room for the title, but is it dramatic enough?

The Gate

No falls, but river, raft and dramatic canyon.


Another possibility for the back. Not dramatic enough for the front.

Home for the night

As always, I’m eager to see what Felicity proposes; she usually works with two or three. And I think I’ll spend a month this summer taking vertical photos for the book I’m currently writing in order to have more to choose from.

My books are available on Kindle. The cost of postage makes shipment of hard copies impractical, but they are usually available at Café Books in Canmore, Alberta and Friends of Yoho in Field, B.C.

The Magnificent Falls of the Nahanni

Virginia Falls, Nahanni River

Virginia Falls, Nahanni River, seen from the air.


Five weeks in northern Canada, more than 2000 photos. It’s hard to know where to begin, but I can’t go wrong with one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. If you are made of really stern stuff, you can put a canoe in the water at Nahanni Butte and paddle upriver for several gruelling days. Most people prefer to fly there, either for one day or as part of a multi-day trip on the river. Our group was planning to travel down the Nahanni in oared rafts.

If conditions are right, and your pilot is in a good mood, you may get to come in low, directly over the falls, on your way to a landing.

Flying over Mason Rock that splits the falls. The left side is more than twice the height of Niagara.

Flying over Mason’s Rock that splits the falls. The left side is more than twice the height of Niagara. Sluice Box Rapids in the background.


Bird's-eye view of crest of falls.

Bird’s-eye view of the crest of the falls.

The landing upstream is surprisingly peaceful.

Dock at Virginia Falls campground.

Dock at Virginia Falls campground.

We spent a day viewing the falls. Water rushing through Sluice Box Rapids toward the precipice creates a tumultuous ballet of billowing whitecaps and spiralling mist.

Sluice Box Rapids

Sluice Box Rapids

Swirling mist

Swirling mist

Spray reaches to the top of Mason Rock.

Spray reaches to the top of Mason’s Rock.

Chaos at the precipice.

Chaos at the precipice.

To complete the tour, a view of the falls from below.

Below the falls.