Jeannie is smart. Not only did her book contract prompt her to get her website up and running and her photo taken by a professional, but she’s obviously beginning to embrace her inner carp as she thinks about branding herself in the book world.
But before I can find my own sidekick to photograph–a Lisa Yee’s Peepy or a Jeannie Mobley’s Carp, I needed to rustle up a photo of…myself.
That’s right, people, it’s the dreaded author photo.
Let me just say that I’ve always been the family photographer, snapping photos of my husband and kids over the years. Whenever I’m stuck in front of a camera, I always feel a little bit cheesy. I have no problem taking silly photos–the kind where you stick out your tongue or pose with, say, a rubber chicken. But an author photo? That’s different. My author photo’s going on my book’s jacket flap and on my website and any promotional material that I conjure up.
My agent said not to worry, that a good photographer will make me feel relaxed enough so that I can be my normal self. So I went to a professional photographer who had taken adorable photos of my friend’s kids. She was nice and certainly friendly, but when I got the proofs back–oh, sweet mama. They were AWful. Seriously. They weren’t even photos a (my) mother could love. My sister summed it up best when she said, “Um, hmm. These photos don’t even look like you.”
I won’t subject you to any of them, because, luckily for you, Dear Blog Post Reader, I didn’t end up purchasing any. Suffice it to say that I looked like having my photo taken was painful. And it kind of was. Staring down the barrel of that camera lens, I was like a deer in the headlights.
I slouched. My shirt looked crooked. My smile said, “Can’t we just get this the *** over with??”
It wasn’t all the photographer’s fault. After all, she’s used to photographing kids, who are natural-born camera hams. I was…what’s the opposite of ham? Rubber chicken, that’s what.
So on the next available sunny day, my husband said, “Let’s go–it’s good author photo weather.” So we went to the lake in our neighborhood and looked for Kodak spots. I said I could hang upside down from a tree. He said he could hang upside down from a tree. He snapped some photos, I’d look at them, remind myself not to slouch, and then he’d take some more. When we’d hear someone jogging around the bend, I’d whisper yell, “Put the camera down!” and then we’d laugh as we tried to look like, “Who, us? We’re just walkin’ around the lake. No, this isn’t a photo shoot. No, siree.”
So here’s what we came up with…
So my collar’s a little crooked, and I guess my eyes are kind of squinty, but at least it looks like me.
So if any of you are thinking of getting your photo taken–for your website, book jacket, or family holiday card–here’s my advice:
1. Do a run-through with someone you’re comfortable with. Even if you don’t have a professional camera (neither do I), it’ll loosen you up and get you used to being in front of the camera.
2. If you hire a professional, meet with that person before photo-shoot day. If you feel nervous, tell the photographer and ask for some tips.
3. If you’re not driving, a pre-photo shoot glass of wine might help. I didn’t think of this before, but I kinda wish I had. ;-P
Now I just need to scrounge up a sidekick…