The Making of the Final Cover for KISSING MAX HOLDEN!

As we always like to remind everyone when we put up a new cover voting, you're voting for a direction or a concept, meaning that there will probably be changes made to the final version of the cover. Some covers change more than others. For Duels & Deception, Anna B. designed the winning cover knowing that she would then hire an artist to perfect the design

For Kissing Max Holden, designers Becca S. and Liz D., while excited about the original image, knew that with a little creative TLC it could be even better. So they decided to recreate it for the final cover!

In honor of the coffee chats the Swoon editors have with their authors for their Swoonworthy Extras, Becca and Liz decided to have a coffee chat about the photoshoot for Kissing Max Holden!

Liz D. (LD): Tell me a little about the cover concept. How did we end up in Prospect Park with two models, a photographer, and a fence?

Becca S. (BS): We started with our initial comp, a simple image of a couple kissing over a fence, which was chosen by the Swoon community as the official cover for Kissing Max Holden.

We really loved the mood of this image, but since we had the opportunity and time to improve the cover even further, we decided it’d be worth it to organize a photoshoot!

We started by picking a photographer, Michael Frost, whose spectacular work was recommended to me by a colleague, who had shot with Michael in the past for various other publishing projects.

Finding models was next on our to-do list! It was fashion week when we scheduled to shoot, so I was a little nervous there wouldn’t be any free models in New York. Fortunately we lucked out and found our two PERFECT models who fit our characters to a T! (Who, might I add, knocked it out of the park! We really couldn’t be happier with their work. )

Then, there was the matter of location. Michael and his assistant suggested we shoot in the park, which gave us the absolutely beautiful natural lighting. However, shooting in a public outdoor setting had its own setbacks. For starters, you have very little control over the lighting! Once the sun moves just a little, that lighting is gone for the day! You have to work quickly if the lighting is right. Perfect lighting can last an instant, and just like that it’s gone! But Michael is a pro and did a fabulous job capturing the beautiful outdoor lighting.

Then, of course, there was the matter of the fence. The fence was absolutely essential in getting this shot perfect. Photoshopping a fence into the scene would be time consuming and incredibly challenging. But we’re based in Manhattan, and there’s very few wooden fences, let alone yards. Michael and his assistant scouted the city in search of a fence, but nothing fit. So Michael, showing us that he’s truly a seasoned professional, worked his magic: he built the fence himself. The result was a small freestanding length of fence, about 6 feet high, which could be built on-location, then easily broken down. It was incredible to see in person, and looks AMAZING in the shot! 

kmh behind the scenes

Since you're an experienced designer, could you talk a little about the benefit of organizing a photoshoot, as opposed to just using stock images?

LD: Photo shoots are great because you end up with an image that is original to your project and represents the book perfectly. You don't run the risk of the same photo appearing on another cover, which is a real hazard when you use a stock image. And, you have a lot more control! You get to cast the models so you know they match the characters, you choose the setting and the wardrobe, you work with the photographer to get the right lighting and mood—I love working directly with photographers because they bring their own knowledge and experience to the process. Michael Frost is a fabulous collaborator, as evidenced by the results of this shoot!

This was your first photo shoot! (So exciting.) What were you expecting, and what was the reality?

BS: I had such a great time at my first photoshoot! I know that Michael Frost has shot for our books in the past, so I trusted 100% that we were in good hands.

I didn’t consider this going in, but when you shoot in a public setting, you’re going to attract a crowd! (It didn’t help that we had erected a freestanding 6-foot fence in the park at 9 a.m.) Naturally, people were curious to see what we were up to. There were a few moments I thought we might have a toddler or a puppy in the shot, which would have been ADORABLE, but not quite the shot we were looking for!

This shoot also taught me a VERY important lesson about wardrobe: OPTIONS! We tried a beautiful, flowing tunic top on our female model, and it looked great on her, but once we tried to get a shot with her wearing it, we quickly realized that the shirt and the fence were the same color. Our model was completely camouflaged by her shirt! So, lesson learned, be sure you have plenty of color options for your models so you don’t lose them in the set pieces!!

What's your favorite part of the photoshoot process and why?

LD: There's a moment in all photo shoots, usually an hour or two in, where everything clicks. The models have relaxed and their poses look natural, the inevitable technical glitch has been fixed, the shirt that looked weird has been swapped out for one that looks just right... And that's it. You got the shot. Everyone on set can feel it, and it feels great.

So, check it out—this is the magic shot that made the final cover! 

KMH final cover   

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