Collecting Photos for an Illustrated Book - by SC Skillman

For those of us who have the chance to publish a travel book full of stories and photos,  it may seem a perfect opportunity to combine your text with visual inspiration as well. I  have been very grateful to Amberley Publishing for signing me up to write highly illustrated books. My books for them so far centre upon my own home county, Warwickshire, so I don't need to drive further than one and a half hours to gather the photos. I take many of the photos myself and also have the assistance of my able photographer son Jamie who is skilled at getting an interesting angle.



However it is fascinating to learn all the challenges involved in finding the right photos to accompany the stories I tell. Sometimes, the story I planned to tell changes its focus because I want it to accompany a fabulous photo. Other times, I have the perfect story: and no suitable photo to go with it.  I hate having to resort to the internet to source photos with a licence 'free to share and use commercially'! I consider it a matter of honour to ensure that the vast majority of the photos are new and original.



On my photographic trips, I discover an ideal photo opportunity - but the contrast between glaring light and shadow is too strong, or the sky is grey. Then I have to go back to that place again at a later stage, when the weather is right. So that involves being ready for the off at the right time of day, and as soon as the sky is blue!

Another difficulty I find is cars and people. Right now I'm researching for my new book A-Z of Warwick and I want to take photos of the 15th century houses in Warwick's oldest street. I realise I need to get up very early in the morning to snap those houses without myriad cars in front of them.



In some respects the zealous local Council is my enemy. They love putting up brash signs in front of historical gems, banning people or warning people or ordering them not to do something.



My talented daughter Abigail however is an expert at photo-shopping pictures and I've already sent a few to her. She has expertly removed bright yellow Warning and Parking signs, Council planning notices, and cars from my photos. She has even put a blue sky in an otherwise perfect photo! Wonderful.  One photo was of the lovely historic Mill Street in Warwick, from which you may obtain a magnificent view of the castle. Abigail had taken a photo of Mill Street from the castle battlements. I loved it  But it was full of parked cars. Then she sent me the same photo again, minus the cars. At first I thought, 'How on earth did she manage to get that photo?' Then I realised: 'Photoshop to the rescue again!'

I hope you enjoy some of the photos here, a brief taster from my forthcoming book A-Z of Warwick.


SC Skillman writes psychological and paranormal mystery fiction. Her novels include Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit. She also writes literary non-fiction for Amberley: her published books so far are Paranormal Warwickshire and Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire. She is currently working on A-Z of Warwick, and her latest novel Director's Cut is with publishers and agents.  She also has a new novel in progress, Standing Ovation, which is the sequel to Director's Cut



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