I have always been fascinated by this theme and the story. Moreover it is a great opportunity to use the studio creatively, specifically low key lighting, moody atmosphere and more. I do also consider photographing in black and white to make it more vintage and closer to the story itself.
In Puzo's novel, Vito Corleone is the head of the Corleone crime family, the most powerful Mafia family in New York City. He is depicted as an ambitious Sicilian immigrant who moves to Hell's Kitchen and builds a Mafia empire, retaining (and strictly adhering to) his own personal code of honor. Upon his death at the end of the novel, his youngest son, Michael, becomes the Don of the Corleone family. Vito has two other sons, Santino ("Sonny") and Frederico ("Fredo"), as well as a daughter, Constanzia ("Connie"), all of whom play major roles in the story. He also informally adopts another son, Tom Hagen, who grows up to become the Family's consigliere.
There are a lot of other examples of book covers, posters, DVD covers and more. Below are some of the examples by other people's work approach and style. It also helps me to create my own style with a different perspective.
|Most of these book covers are emphasizing on Red and White colours, making them more aggressive in the way and serious. Perhaps It could make associations with a blood and violence at some level which this book is about in the way.|
|The logo used by these examples is the standard and available to download online. These are the official book covers by professional photographers and designers.|
|This is one of the Movies official poster. Again it is in low key lighting style and very contrasty, the detail is almost lost but in this case it makes the cover even stronger.|
|The look by this person is perfect. It makes this cover an excellent representation of the book. The background lighting setup is quite common nowadays, it is neutral and at the same time directs us to the main subject.|
|I did inspire from this book cover. I like the represented detail on hands, the cigar, rings and the wrist watch. It is very moody and at the same time I feel this photograph is a little bit cliche.|
Here are my best shots for this project before retouch. First ones are silhouettes and all the rest in low key with Rembrandt approach.
Here is the lighting diagram for Silhouette shots.
|It is a very simple setup. As the ceiling of the studio is white the light was bouncing off slightly and causing a bit of trouble with the black levels, but once the blacks were increased my Silhouettes were looking good.|
|I did pay attention to the detail, like the cigar and the hat. These two element gives the special mood and sets thing in the right way. This is my favourite silhouette in this project.|
|This is my second favourite shot. I tried to explain my visualization and from that point we were working in the same direction. The overall photo shoot session took me only about 40 minutes and the result was superb.|
|Here I tried to compose slightly wider, just to see how the proportions would work.|
|This is about what I wanted to achieve in terms of composition proportions. A little bit of torso and the head with arms. Again the details such the cigar or cigar cutter was specifically added to strengthen the overall outcome.|
|Series of Silhouettes, I like this detail shot. It would work better if he did have some wrist chain ( ideally with a religios symbols such the Cross) That was one of my initial ideas which I actually did not turn into the final piece.|
Here are my series of the black and white low key lighting.
|Here is the lighting diagram for the rest of the photographs.|
|I really like the facial expression and the overall mood.|
|This would have been a great shot if the face was not blocked completely by the hand, but even though it is a nice representation of my visualization and ideas regards the Mario Puzo book "Godfather"|
|One of two potential final photographs. It was exactly what I was looking to achieve|
Here are the very best shots, which I am going to use for my final selection.
I did apply more clarity, contrast, blacks and whites in order to make them pop more. My goal was to achieve very contrasty and moody look.
|Original RAW version|
|Original RAW version|
|Pushed to the limits in terms of contrast and clarity. Similar effect to above examples. Very contrasty and scary.|
|Same effect as above. Although I think it is too harsh.|
|This is an interesting photograph, I could see this as a very good book cover, however it is not as strong as other two photographs.|
|Here I did pull the clarity all the way up, it gives it more sharpness, graininess and makes it stronger.|
Below are few of my ideas about layout, little graphic design and format.Idea is pretty simple. I guess this is inspiration from Alexander Rodchenko's graphic design work, emphasizing on geometry, shapes and lines. The colour of stripes had to be red in order to make more aggressive and stronger.
|First thoughts of layout, however It does not work as good as the second idea of parallel red lines from top to bottom.|
|More contrast and clarity. This is an example without the graphical touch of red stripes. I think it looks too plain, therefore the graphical kick is vital.|
|Less Contrast and clarity, makes it look better, it is balanced between low and high level. Once the sufficient level of them both is determined I was able to apply my final three shots to the template. Results are shown below.|
Here are the selection of my final three shots, each in two versions. One without a red graphical lines.
|Due to relatively slow shutter speed some movement blur is noticeable, If I did a second chance for this project I would fix this problem.|
|This is very good photograph, however it represents more secret or misery rather than a gangster style scenario.|
|And here is another comparison without the red stripes.|
I do not like the proportions of the photographs. Therefore I did expand the photograph vertically as it can be seen below.
|This is the very final version with extended canvas and reduced contrast. It definitely looks much better than example below. The only problem is that the portrait is too small on overall scene.|
|Although it is not as bad, still I prefer less contrasty version.|
In Conclusion. If I did have more time for this project I would try to set another studio session and correct my technical errors (1/50th of a sec). Also I would try to compose my photographs by leaving some dead space for the graphical elements, such logos, headings etc.
This project was very interesting. My favourite studio setup for the low key lighting. It was an excellent practice to communicate with my models. Also it took me a while for thinking, planning and preparation. As I had idea visualized it was much easier to recreate my vision and the workflow was much more productive.
I could have done some more research.
I would definitely try to create the back cover with my second photograph of cigar. It was not an easy project to do. As I did use the same lighting setup for my personal work I did not have any problems to work with professionalism and self confidence which made my project more successful.
The longest part of the project was the post processing the research process and the blog editing.