The Dreaded Author Photo Shoot
When my editor emailed me asking for an author photo, I sighed a little. Like many people, I don’t feel photogenic and cringe at most pictures I’m tagged in on social media. Added to the usual photo insecurity was the pressure of getting a picture that not only looked good but also communicated who I am as a writer. So I went into the whole process expecting terrible results. Of course, on the day of the photo shoot a ton of things went wrong—hair product and lipstick catastrophes galore.
Luckily, however, I chose a great photographer, who made the whole process easy and, unbelievably enough, fun. We did part of the shoot in front of a rustic-looking building and part in an old cemetery, which really helped ensure I didn’t end up with head shots that looked like they belonged to a real estate agent. The light was beautiful, the settings were well-chosen, and my photographer figured out all the best ways to bring out the look I was aiming for.
So in the end, I was really pleased with the results and feel good about the photo I sent along to my publisher. I’ve seen lots of authors stressing about their author photo lately, so I thought I’d share some lessons I learned from the experience.
PHOTO SHOOT PREP
- Prepare well in advance. Give yourself a few weeks if possible, especially if you have cosmetic issues to attend to (hair dye, brow wax, new glasses, etc.).
- Make sure you have all your cosmetic and clothing choices prepared for the day of the shoot. I made the mistake of using a new lipstick brand right before my shoot that gave me a lot of trouble. Try out those new makeup products and make sure you have everything you need so you’re not stressed about small things on the day of the shoot.
- Bring wardrobe changes. I brought three pairs of glasses and three outfits to my shoot, and my photographer helped me figure out which would work best in certain settings.
- Hire a professional. They know how to make you look your best.
- If possible, have the photos taken outside. It will feel more natural, provide good lighting, and give the photos more personality. If you can find a setting that reflects the kind of books you write, all the better!
- Try a few different looks—smiling, serious, etc. Your expression can change the entire look and feel of the photo and what it communicates. It’s good to have options.
AFTER THE SHOOT
- Your photographer will send you a gallery of photos to choose from. You will then be able to select the ones you want and have them make final edits to correct flyaways and other minor issues. Take your time in making selections. You may find that you hate certain photos at first and later come to like them, or that a photo you initially like turns up some weird flaw that will bug you forever.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer to make additional edits if there are flaws that bother you, such as a blemish or a glare on your glasses.
- Seek input from others when choosing photos. If possible, ask other writers, your agent, or someone with a little objectivity. Your mom thinks you’re beautiful and is probably not your best resource for this decision. (My mom’s favorite photo looked like a high schooler’s senior photo. 😊)
Here are a few of my favorites from the photo shoot, courtesy of Amelia J. Moore Photography.
Option 3 is the one I chose for my official photo as it’s friendly, focuses on my face, and still communicates my personality, without being overly dramatic.