Branding Myself As, Er…Myself

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.

Not only can Jeannie use this as her brand, but she can serve it at all of her book signings! I hear it tastes like chicken...

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…

You should have seen the carp that leapt from the lake just moments after this photo was taken!

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…



Filed under Book Promotion

12 responses to “Branding Myself As, Er…Myself

  1. Looking good, Natalie! And you did the thing I always mean to do–find a beautiful background. Because, I tell myself, people can just admire the lake and not focus so much on you. But they’d be missing out–because you look great. And no one will notice that collar unless you point it out. I’d bet on that.


    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      Thanks, Audrey! I love your photo on the deck with the woods in the background (is that your house?). You look like the person who took your photo just said something funny. Or maybe you just said something funny, as you often do. 🙂


  2. Nice photo, Natalie. I also hate getting my picture taken, but I went to a very good photographer, who is the wife of a good friend, so we had something to talk about. We walked all around the park chatting while finding places to do the shots. You could actually see my progression from stiff to relaxed in the proofs.

    She did my sons senior photos, too. Whenever his smile started to get really stiff, she would tell him to close his mouth and puff up his cheeks with air. Hold it about five seconds, then blow it out and smile. The smiles were beautiful every time, both because it stretches and relaxes the smiling muscles, plus it feels so silly, that it kind of makes you laugh. I’ve been using it every since as a way to get a decent photo of people who stiffen before the camera.

    As for a sidekick, with a book called FLYING THE DRAGON, I think you have some really awesome options (seeing you like Mulan here). But I’ll leave that to you. I’m off to get me a crate of that yummy looking carp caviar. Mmmm.


    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      What a good idea about the puffy cheeks, Jeannie…NOW you tell me! 😉

      I do love that Mulan dragon…Mushu, right? I’ll have to get my people to call Disney’s people…


  3. Oh, I’m uncomfortable even having my family snap a picture of me, so I can totally sympathize. This photo you shared that your husband took looks great. Good for you!


  4. J. Anderson Coats

    Yeah, I totally had a hip flask when I had my pictures taken.

    And my sidekick is going to be my Pope Innocent action figure with karate-chop excommunication action. (He should have kung-fu grip, too, but his manufacturer probably didn’t want to get sued.)


  5. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    A hip flask–brilliant! So puffy cheeks, a hip flask…I obviously need to publish another book so I can get author photo #2 taken.

    I will totally buy the Pope Innocent action figure…does he come with a Pope Mobile, or is that only for modern popes??


  6. I hired a friend to do mine. He was trying to get his portrait business going. Already, there were two problems. He was very conscientious, just not very practiced. And, I didn’t know how to tell a friend that most of the photos sucked. But, as my husband says about parking spaces, all you need is one!


    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      Your photo is lovely and your husband sounds wise, Cynthia. 🙂 It’s kind of what Erin used to say to me when my manuscript was on submission–it only takes one.

      It sounds like there’s a lesson from your experience…sure, having someone you know behind the camera may relax you more than a stranger would. But you need to know the person well enough to be able to say that the photos weren’t exactly what you were hoping for.

      Thanks for your comment, Cynthia!


  7. Oh, I’ve been dreading having my author photo taken. Dreading. But these tips look great and your photo came out wonderfully. So, maybe next week, after I get my hair cut, I’ll open a bottle of wine and get hubby to do the honors.


  8. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Oh, Jeanne! Let us know how the photo shoot goes. I’ve been known to have a glass of wine after a botched haircut, too, which I hope you won’t need…



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