I Made a Cover / by Stefaan Conrad

Since deciding on a name, I felt it was time to look at some cover options. Because Recalibrate is a multi-sport photography journal, I nixed my idea from months ago of not having a photograph on the front. That just didn’t make sense to me, being a predominately photography-based piece. The multi-sport aspect had me thinking that I ought to feature a picture that shows my key elements, athletes and nature, while also not creating assumptions about the books content. I worry that if I have a photo of a climber or a mountain biker, people will see the cover and assume that it’s a climbing or mountain biking book. I looked through some of my supporting imagery to find images that met all three of those criterion.

I found a shot from a climbing trip I did with Reuben and Natalia late last summer. I took it before sunrise after camping part way up the approach to a climb called Cosmic Wall in Castle Crags State Park just south of Mount Shasta. It shows Reuben, nicely framed between two granite features, carrying his gear for the excursion as we continued our trek up the mountain. The hazy morning colors behind him were softened by the smoke of the Hertz fire burning just one ridge away from where we were going to climb.

Composition is a huge part of what drew me to this shot. The positive and negative space are almost the reciprocal of each other which creates a tense, yet symmetrical balance. It’s easy to pick out the subject, yet the human element isn’t dominating the frame.

Here’s a look at the cover I came up with based on this image. I realized that the word recalibrate had the four letters ‘cali’ in it…which I couldn’t help but try make stand out in this first edition. I haven’t personally decided if that comes across as tacky or if it’s another connection to the region, geography, and landscape that has made this book what it is.


I did print the front and back cover and attached it to a scrap magazine to try and visualize it in a tactile way. It worked really well! Trying to project this image on a physical book is difficult when it is currently displayed to you on a screen which is most likely smaller than a dollar bill. However, I downloaded a free mockup online just to give you a slightly more realistic reproduction but this is still nothing like it is to hold the image on the cover of a book.


I’d love some feedback on what you think of the cover image, layout, and design. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Excited to see the next steps coming together!