My Author Photo

Taking a picture of myself that is worthy of a book cover is nearly impossible.  The only other process that comes close to requiring perfect sync of so many variables is the miracle of conception.  Yet the world is full of author photos, and agent and editor both neeeded mine yesterday.  On a day when hair, weight, and attitude were momentarily aligned, I called husband and invited him to lunch at the arboretum.  We took 200 pictures.  Upon review, not one was a keeper.  In case we were being too picky, I sent a batch to my good friend for her honest advice.  She said, “Do you have any shots that look like you?”  

We tried again and again, always with the same results.  We took turns making a case for improbable shots where half of my face was in shadow, for instance.  Under pressure, I sent a selection of the best to my agent.  “Do you have any shots that look warm and inviting?” she asked.

We sought the expert skills of a fashion photographer we know, and although his pictures were museum quality, he could do only so much with the subject (me).  On a photo shoot, overcome with the pressure to look warm and inviting, to be a face that sells books and still look like myself, and wondering what any of this had to do with writing, I sat on a picnic table and cried.  Those are the very worst pictures of all.

Then, one evening, husband had an idea.  “Let’s just think of this as practise,” he said.  We took our wineglasses onto the deck and, in the waning light of a summer evening, took pictures until it grew dark.  This time, we got an angle that seemed to work.  The only problem was the background:  two wineglasses in plain view and a blue mini-van emerging from my left temporal lobe.    

Time was running out.  Two more sessions and absolutely no good shots later, my editor requested a picture.  ASAP.  I pulled out the practise shot and turned on the photo editing tools.  I cropped as close as I could to take out the wineglasses, and painted green foliage over everything that didn’t belong in an author photo.  Then I braced myself and hit send.    

My editor wrote, “Do you have any shots where you look less startled?”  

I envy photogenic authors who do what comes naturally and get a great photo in one session.  I sent her my other shots and she opted for startled.


Filed under Agent, Cindy Jones, Editor, First Reader (aka Husband), My Jane Austen Summer, The business of writing...

14 responses to “My Author Photo

  1. Debby

    I truly do not know anyone who is less photogenic than you. This has nothing to do with your beauty. But its just the strangest gosh-darned thing. When scrapbooking Kate’s 18th birthday, I had to photoshop clone your right eye for your left so that both would be open. I think you do have to be suprised, startled, or tricked in order to get a good photo. Same seems to be true of your husband. I think your author photo is lovely–and remarkable for you.

    • THANK YOU my sister for confirming my story–I am not making this up! I am photogenically disabled and always have been. There should be accommodations for people like me–a disclaimer on the book cover. Sheesh.

  2. Hehehe! Bless your heart! I think we might be related. 🙂

  3. cameron bostick

    Cindy, Your picture on your blog is perfect! Intelligent-vulnerable because that’s your child about to be before the world, with humor –and you look pretty because you are. I want to read your book!!!

  4. HAHAHAHA!!!! You mean, this photograph I always took to be a joke… really wasn’t a joke at all? You do look startled, but I assumed you were hamming it up! 😉
    I can’t honestly believe that nobody can get a great shot of you… I’m half tempted to find you and experiment with my own shots.
    I love a challenge!
    But I suppose we’ll have to take your sister at her word…. until I bump into you someday, that is. Watch out, my camera will get you. hehe

    – Tara

  5. I just loved this! A “Face that sells books!” I’m not a photogenic one either, but my college-aged son is a photographer and when that glorious day arrives that I need a photo for a book jacket, he’ll be doing all the contortions to get a shot where I look happy, restful, and not too surprised!

  6. Jenny the librarian

    You’re definitely not alone. Thanks to social networking there’s added pressure for good pictures. The picture I use on-line (look to the right of this comment) is a good 3 years old. I hate most pictures of myself. I haven’t had to pose for an author photo but I understand the pressure. I like to hide from cameras.

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