Ah, the author photo. It’s that time again for me. Actually it’s been that time for about the last five years. My last one was around 2009. And before that, it was late 2006. Back in the day I believed author photos had to be taken pretty much every other year. But you have to spend money to get really good, professional photos, and it becomes a big investment. Then there’s the age thing. Headshots become a very public document of one’s aging. Vanity AND pocketbook? That’s a double whammy.
But there are few things sadder than a bad author photo. Even well-known authors have been known to have some stinkers (these are not recent, thank the clouds). And here’s a funny essay/list by publisher Chris Emery of Salt Books on how to take a bad author photo.
When you get a really good, classic photo of yourself, it’s hard to let go of it. (One bestselling author used hers for a dozen years and it became an industry joke.) The next photo might not age well. I love the photos my last photographer, Jay Fram, took. I was feeling very confident, which I think makes for better photos, don’t you? A bit of confidence helps any awkward occasion. And having one’s photo taken can be incredibly awkward.
This time I’m not feeling so confident. My fifties have hit me pretty hard. My forties were everything one’s forties should be. I was very active, my career as a novelist was just beginning. And I had that lovely pre-perimenopausal glow. The glow that engenders a particular biological come hitherness that’s so attractive in women of childbearing age. Hormones! Get all your necessary hormones right here! But I’ll be damned if all of my come hither glowy hormones didn’t seem to flee at once, taking my desire to remain fit and sassy with them. Clothes have become about disguising rather than enhancing. I have lumpy bits where I never had them before. Terminally dry eyes keep me from wearing contacts now, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to wear my glasses in a photo because I change glasses every one or two years because I get bored with them. Who wants to see five-year-old glasses on a five-years-younger face? I’ll take the younger, thanks, and leave the glasses.
I have one month before I meet with the photographer–a new one. She takes lovely portraits, and I’m excited to work with her. This time, given my visible pores, ugh! age spots, and scant eyebrows–not to mention that whole wrinkly neck thing–oh, and what’s with the eye makeup looking all weird on over-50 eyes?–I’ve hired a stylist. Yes, a stylist. They’ll do my hair and makeup. My big worry is that I won’t look like me. I’m used to looking like me. I don’t want to see a stranger in my official photo. I never was a glamour shots devotee. That’s not to say that’s what I’m doing. It just feels weird. Apparently I’m also getting a blow out of my hair.
About a year ago I decided to find out what a blow out is. There are blow out bars everywhere–in cities, anyway. You know what a blow out is? I was surprised to find it’s pretty much what my grandmother was getting back in the 1960s. You get your hair washed and styled with special product to make the style last up to a week. For you youngsters out there, that’s exactly what women used to do. Only the product used was Dippity-Do, and the hair was teased and set with a dense layer of Aqua Net. The style, with careful maintenance, would last about a week. Sound familiar? The product is different, and the styling tools are different, but the result is basically the same. Minus the helmet head, of course. Hair product has come a long way. At least I’m not afraid of the blow out part. Here’s link called What You Need to Know About Getting a Blow Out.
The link is four years old. Because blow outs have been around forever, only they’ve been called different things. And I am old and haven’t been in the market for random hair styling.
Here are my previous author photos. Actually, the first on shouldn’t really count because it’s not an author photo, but a business headshot I had done when I started my copywriting business in the early oughts. I included it because it’s standard for the era. There was an earlier one that my husband called–not very fondly–Laura The Q-Tip Head. I pray that every copy of that photo has disappeared forever, and am grateful it was never on the Internet.
Tell me all your tips for getting wonderful photos! It’s been a while for me. Are there author photos you particularly like? I’m all ears.
*Last chance to get in on this week’s chance to win a mystery box of books. I have a special guest here tomorrow, so I’ll be announcing the winner Friday. Click here to go to the entry post and list your favorite mystery book to enter.
16 thoughts on “It’s Author Photo Time”
Oh gosh, I have no tips. I’ve never gotten an author’s photo done. If your upcoming photo looks as good as your previous ones, it’ll be very pretty and professional-looking.
My DH and I were chatting about what the men used to do to spiff up their hair: Alberto VO5 and Brylcream!
Alberto VO5 and Brylcream! I remember those commercials so very well. My dad never used hair prep stuff–at least not after I was born. I always thought those products very mysterious. I still remember the smell of Dippity-Do, and how much I enjoyed putting my finger in the jar.
Laura, your author photos are lovely! I recall when you have your ancestry results, you discovered the Viking doll, and I am also familiar with the one that is featured with Bliss House, however, you are beautiful. I hide from cameras.
I’m sorry you hide from cameras, Skye. I don’t know why you do, but I recall reading an essay by a woman who long hated to have her photo taken because she thought she looked terrible in them, but she realized that the people who cared about her had none of her concerns, and they just wanted to have her in their photos because the loved her. 💜
Laura, I’m impressed with your array of head shots. And embarrassed that I’ve never been so professional about this key element of the writer’s life. I feel inspired to revisit my past decisions and get a really good photo done.
I’ve just been in the business so long that these things add up, I guess. Though I wrote fiction for almost 20 years before I actually needed one!
Your author photo looks beautiful! I wouldn’t change a thing.
You are beautiful….be natural..it is what it is…says a saggy skin, brown age spotted 65 year old!
Debbie, you are so sweet. I love natural, too. Sadly, I think the publisher might…object. 😊
Afraid I can’t help you, since “good photo” seems like an oxymoron to me. I try to use Sally from Peanuts when possible, so I think that Viking look is perfect. I remember the blow-outs and my mother-in-law and the other ladies scratching their itchy heads with the end of a rattail comb. Seriously, all the photos of you look pretty good to me.
Sally from Peanuts is perfect–what a cutie. I’m glad you like the Viking idea. Probably Mattel would get grouchy with me, though. Wonder if there’s a novelist Barbie. Hmmmmm. Laptop, coffee, pjs. That would do it!
I love your photos! I distinctly remember being shocked when I finally met Toni in person and she looked so much younger than her author pic. LOL I vote for having a good friend or loved one take your photo. Make it a candid picture where you’re more relaxed.
Brandee! Unfortunately I’m almost never relaxed. *sigh* I would love to take my own portrait, but I haven’t been able to take the time to develop that skill. Flowers and landscapes and bugs are my limit!
Toni is beautiful Love that gal.
Maybe you need to get JT to take it!
I agree with having someone who knows and really cares about you taking your photo. Obviously, it shows when you look at them. And they really do
see us in the best light.
I have at least met with the new photographer extensively–she is also doing my daughter’s wedding. Fingers crossed that she likes me, lol.