Friday, November 20, 2009

Your Author Photo

I take terrible photos. I dread the inevitable request- "...and send a photo." I've struggled along sending the best of the worst. What could I do? But now that normal level of photo dread has become much, much worse. I just read this very disturbing article about the Right Author Photo.

What I've learned from this article is that ALL of my photos are WRONG. (Yes capital letters must be used here- that's how wrong they are). I have the wrong clothes, the wrong photographer (usually my husband - a big No-No , BTW), the wrong light, the wrong focusing.

All this time I thought I wasn't doing so badly. Sometimes, honestly, ignorance really is bliss.

For a long time I used this photo.

Besides being unfocused, the photo is grainy and my hair is a complete mess. Would you buy a book written by this person? Of course not. I wouldn't even do it and I know her.

Then I had this short hair photo I used for a little while:

Of course in this one I have some sort of neck situation going on and the colour is all funny, like I'm taking the photo inside of a fridge. Though I have to admit- my hair is really shiny. But apparently shiny hair is irrelevant in author photos. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I hate to even show you folks this one. I recently wrote an article for a magazine and I used the photo below. I really don't know why. Even before reading the article about author photos I knew this photo was wrong. It was a flight of fancy, a plan working better in my head than in practice. No- this one is very, very wrong. A morning after the night before sort of mistake I'm afraid.

Below is my newest photo which I thought was okay. I'm even sitting at the computer though you can't see it. I thought it looked very productive. The background is wrong (the edge of my kitchen and the other edge of my dining room), and the shirt looks un-ironed probably because it is (I haven't lifted an iron since the 1980s), my eyes look a bit reddish (I actually thought that was a nice touch-pre article, I do occasionally write scary things and what is scarier than red eyes, all monsters have them) and the wrong photographer- hubby, yet again.

I don't know. I wish I would have just gone and watched TV instead of reading that stupid author photo article. It's bad enough we have to worry about the writing, then the publishing, then the marketing -but now the photo.

I feel very tired suddenly.

Next time the request comes for a photo....I think I'll pretend I didn't get the email.


Not From Lapland said...

an evil, evil article. I never look good on photos and i often worry that must be the way i look in real life. surely not. I hope not. Oh dear...

Tim Jones said...

I really like this article about author photos, with examples:

My own author photo was taken by a friend, Sonali Mukherji, who is a keen, but not professional, photographer, in 2007, and I like that one a lot too, though I have no idea whether it "breaks the rules"!

Nik Perring said...

God, tell me about it.

Must say I really liked the second one up...


Elspeth Futcher said...

I take the worst photos in the world. I had one good 8x10 about 10 years ago. I feel your pain. I share your pain.


Helen Ginger said...

I do hate taking photos of myself. I did go to a pro to have one made, which is the one I use. I'd prefer to take a pic of my daughter or son and use that one (write under a fake name for my son's pic) Nowadays it seems as though authors are using photos that show more than just their face. They're sitting on a cannon or lying across their motorcycle in the middle of a country road or leaning against an interesting barn wall.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

If you are a professional writer, you probably have invested in a good computer and printer. You try to make your work as presentable as it can be when it goes out, you use good quality paper and envelopes. You probably have also developed a professional looking website.

So why not just go to a professional photographer and get a couple of shots done? Isn't this just part of presenting yourself professionally? If you are not confident about your looks, the best way to go is a classic black and white photo which will hide a lot, and which rarely disappoints.

Lauri said...

Heather- actually that's also part of it- you wonder do I look like this? And then.... what do I actually look like? A serious headgame.

Tim- thanks for the link. Obviously I need all the help I can get.

Catarina- Glad you liked the post.

Nik-The second from the bottom- really?

Elspeth- I'm actually thinking something along those lines. I must get a photo done by a proper photographer and then never change it. Like Bill Bryson on his books.

Helen- that of course adds a whole new dimension. What defines me and my writing - a barn? a motorbike? Worse again for me since I write across many genres. argh....

karen said...

Oh dear, I'm sorry to say you did make me laugh with your photo predicament! :)

I love the updates on the kittens, and thanks for the book recommendation earlier, I will definitely put it on my To Read list!

groovyoldlady said...

Hahahahahaha! Oh my word! As if we didn't have enough to worry about.

bonita said...

My question is...
Why do they want a photo?
What is gained by a [good] photo?
What is lost by no photo?

Anonymous said...

I actually think you're wrong about your photos. I think you look good in them. You have bright eyes with a twinkle in them and a great smile. You look like someone who thinks about things.

I've never really thought about author photos before but I don't know if a pro shot where someone looks all stern and academic would necessarily endear me to the author. I want to look at a real person who looks like they are down to earth and up for a chat. That's you, Lauri. I vote for any one of your photos!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I have never, ever like having my picture taken. So, I hear ya sister. But, that said, you're cute and I like all the photos you showed. I WOULD buy a book by that author.

Lauri said...

Selma and Elizabeth- Aren't you both sweet? Thanks. Selma, it's true that you don't really want a photo where you look too posh or snooty. That's why I've always been a fan of Bill Bryson's pic. He's wearing a slightly frumpy jersey and the wind is blowing his thinning hair and revealing what he was trying to hide. It's endearing.

Bonita- I completely agree with you. Why do we need a photo anyway? I don't think it makes the book less if the photo is not there. For me sometimes I want a photo because of my name. People assume that with my African name I will be black. I don't much like those "lekgoa (white person) moments" so I try to pre-empt them as much as I can.