As Jennifer and I experienced all of the highs and lows of being first time authors we shared many heartwarming moments and sessions of uncontrolled laughter.
A favorite memory was our quest for the perfect cover photo. Our cover had to promise the reader delicious food and also a delicious life. It needed to invite the reader into the stories that make our book more than a cookbook. To have one photo accomplish all our goals and also be something we absolutely loved was daunting. We played on our computers trying to come up with something and nothing felt right. Office walls in Arkansas and California were plastered with taped up possibilities that we photographed and sent to each other. We tried living with the mock-ups, looking at them a hundred times a day, hoping one would finally grab us. We asked opinions of our husbands, family and friends. In the meantime Jennifer came across a photo that she fell in love with and wanted very much to use. Unfortunately it was available to the world on the Internet and we did not want to use a photo that could possibly be seen somewhere else.
My tenacious daughter was not willing to give up on the photo that captivated her. She did a little research and found the name of the photographer that took the photo. Elina Manninen just happened to live in Helsinki, Finland. Not deterred, Jennifer contacted Elina via e-mail and told her our story. Elina wrote back with a story of her own.
Elina was moved by the fact that we were a mother/daughter team working on a cookbook. She loved cookbooks and her mum, Kaija, often helped her with her photography. She said that the photograph Jennifer feel in love with was of her daughter, Enja, who was now two years older than in the original photo. Enja had, of course, outgrown the beautiful eyelet dress she was wearing and the bowl she was holding was long gone. But Elina offered to take a new photo of Enja, after she located a new dress and bowl. She said that our request had come at a perfect time. Kaija had just been diagnosed with cancer and the project would help to take her mum’s mind off of this devastating news. After we received Elina’s email we knew she was the perfect photographer for our cover, our similar Mom-Daughter projects, our lives both touched by cancer and her willingness to work to make something perfect for us from so far away.
It was not long before we were looking at Elina’s amazing photograph. It was exactly what we wanted for the cover of our book. Elina had photographed two different bowls and we were drawn to the one with polka dots. The strawberries looked delicious. Enja was wearing a gorgeous, perfectly frilly, white dress but what we fell in love with was her chipped finger nail polish…so little girl-like. It made us smile.
It is our great good fortune to have had this amazing experience with Elina, her mum and daughter. And we now hear, thankfully, that Kaija’s test results are coming back very good. Our cover is a part of our book that will always make our hearts happy.
Please visit Elina’s website, www.elinamanninen.com, to see more of her fabulous photographs. I think she puts a bit of herself in each photograph that she takes.