Whether you've walked by them in the store, or you have one secretly hidden somewhere in your home, you've probably gazed upon a few romance novel covers from time to time. And who could blame you? They certainly have a way of catching the eye.
And you've probably also noticed the people on the covers themselves. They always look more like Greek gods and goddesses than real people. For instance, there's frequent romance novel cover model Fabio.
Someone else who noticed the covers is photographer and photo editor Kathleen Kamphausen. She made some recreations of many romance novel covers, but with a twist. Instead of using cover models, she made covers using regular people.
Here we see the side-by-side comparison between the original Tender Is The Storm and the recreation. By recreating the covers, it's even more clear how unrealistic they actually are. In case there was any doubt, the romance novel covers are pure fantasy.
But there's more differences between the covers than just the models. The original covers have photos that been retouched or Photoshopped so much that they no longer look like they belong in the real world. They almost look like cartoons instead.
Here's an original featuring the all-time romance novel model, Fabio. And his cover is recreated by a not-so-well-known romance novel model, Dan. Perhaps the real question is, how good is at Dan at figuring out if something is or is not butter?
Fabio shows up yet again on the cover of Savage Thunder. And it looks like Dan shows up again in the recreation. Let's just hope Dan has better luck than Fabio when it comes to riding on roller coasters.
Cosmo also ran an article on how real romance covers actually get made. Photographer Anna Kmet said, " I get info on the book — who the characters are, physical descriptions, the synopsis of the story — from the publishers. Sometimes they have ideas of what they want for the cover and sometimes they don’t; sometimes it’s up to me to come up with different concepts."
Kmet said that once a concept is agreed upon, "I choose models that fit the descriptions and I have them approved with the publishers. Before the shoot, I research the costumes, then rent those. (Then) I set up a photo shoot with my photographer."
As for the shoot itself, Kmet said, "We take probably a couple hundred pictures, to cover all the bases and get a wide variety of shots in case they want to change directions. It’s usually a one-hour photo shoot; it’s a lot to do within an hour."
After the photos come in, that's when assembling the image begins. Kmet said, "I get the photos, make some selections, have them approved, and then go on to sketch mode. I work in Photoshop." In other words, they're not really being photographed with a unicorn in front of a rainbow.
"I used to be a painter and for many years, I did cover illustrations with oil paints on large canvases." Kmet said. "I basically do the same thing now, but I work off of a computer with a drawing pad, and I can still do a lot of the same things that I used to do. I still draw and paint to create the final image. Sometimes it’s a lot of back-and-forth with the art directors and the editors to get exactly what they’re looking for.”
For the male hero model, Kmet said, "They should be pretty rugged-looking, and they have to have a good build." And for the heroine model, she said, "They need to look very sensual, very beautiful, with a great build." However, for both models, she said, "The poses are more important than the individuals."