For the book cover contest, a key element will be picking a photo or illustration for the cover. Here are your options:

  • Use one of my photos: You can use one my 50 best photos from Eastern Europe or one of the ones below. Play around with them as much as you want. If you have a specific request ("I want a photo with a Russian babushka" or "I want a photo of the Romanian mountains"), then ask me and I will send you what I have. I have thousands of pics from Eastern Europe, so please be specific in your requests.
  • Use a photo by an amateur photographer: Sites like Panoramio have outstanding photos by amateurs who would be honored to have their photo on the cover of a book. They may be looking for a big break or a portfolio building opportunity. Most of the time people will let you use it for free as long as you give them credit. If they insist on payment, then the money would come out of your prize money. For example, if the photographer wants $200 for the unlimited right to use the photo, then you'll end up netting $800 in prize money ($1000 - $200). Fortunately, there are so many great photographers that you should be able to find great photos for cheap or free. In addition, Flickr has free photos licensed under the Creative Commons license (avoid Creative Common photos that cannot be used commercially, the ones with a $ sign crossed out). However, I suggest you look through the non-creative commons photos because there are many more to choose from. If so, then make sure you get the photographer's agreement before submitting the design. You won't have to pay the photographer unless you win, so just get his conditional agreement that if you win, then you'll pay him X. Also, make sure that whatever photo you chose is available in a high enough resolution that we can use it on a book cover.
  • Use a semi-professional photo: Sites like iStockphoto offer nice photos at reasonable prices.
  • Use a professional photographer's photo: Sites like Corbis and Getty Images is where pros sell their photos. They're expensive, but the quality is high. You'll spend less time finding great photos than on amateur sites. However, it may cost $500-700 for a professional photo. That would lower your prize money, but if your main objective is to just have the glory of winning, then this could be a good strategy!

Sample photos you can use

The photos below are meant to encourage you to find more. Get a leg up on your competition by finding your own photos!The photographers who took these great photos have agreed to allow book designers to use them for this competition.

To show you how many photographers are eager to get their first big break, we emailed several photographers asking if I could use their photo on the cover of my book if I credited the photo to them. They were all happy to do. Most were happy with just getting credit, while a couple asked a reasonable payment (under $100).

Maria was especially generous: she said we can freely use any photo on her Flickr account! She just wants credit in the end. The winning photographer will get a free copy of the book!

All the photos below are available to use on the cover! If you click on the photo, you'll see who shot it and also have access to higher resolution versions. It shows what happens when you simply ask if you can use a photo with attribution! With some surfing, you'll find many more possibilities! Check back here and I will add some more! However, do your own research too!

My photos (free to use for my book cover only)

If I don't provide the link for the high resolution version, just email me and I'll send it to you.

Bled, Slovenia, snow, ducks, swans, winter
Bled, Slovenia. Click on image for a high resolution version.

Budapest Heroes' Square
Budapest. Photo by Francis Tapon - contact me if you want the high resolution version


Budapest Heroes' Square
Budapest. By Francis Tapon - contact me if you want a high res version.



Flickr photos

The photographers who took these photos have agreed to let people use them for this contest. If their photo is on the cover of the contest winner, then they will charge a reasonable fee (around $50). I encourage you to Flickr and other photo sites for other photos.


Croatia coast
Flickr photo in Croatia

Mostar, Bosnia
Mostar Bridge, Bosnia. This photo is $50.


Ukraine babushka
Flickr photo