Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Author Photo Tips

Welcome to my first ever A to Z Blogging Challenge. You'll find 26 posts dedicated to . . . writing! What else? I hope you find them all useful and entertaining.


A is for AUTHOR PHOTO TIPS!

As authors, we are in the business of words, not visuals. Readers get to know us through black and white lines, not images, but it is important for writers to have an author photo for the backs of their books (if they are lucky to have one included) and for our social media sites/blogs. Putting a face to our names and the stories we create can help us form a bond with our readers, and vice versa. I know I like to see what my favorite authors look like. If nothing else, it confirms they are human. *wink*

Here are 6 steps and 13 tips on how to take a great author photo:

1.    Background

·         Outside

Posing beside a tree, in a garden, or in front of water always makes a beautiful picture without much effort.

TIP #1: If you are surrounded by blues and greens, wear white or another color that’ll standout. Orange/yellow stands out well with a blue background and red/pink pops with green backgrounds.

·         Backdrop

A black or white backdrop is a classy choice and is great if you want to pull off a literary-educated look.

·         Desk

Sitting at your desk (a clean, uncluttered desk) is a personal touch I enjoy because it shows the writer in their “nest”, where they create their work.

TIP #2: If you can’t get your picture taken professionally, hang up a sheet of (wrinkle-free) fabric and position a chair before it. Don’t be afraid to add color or patterns to show your personality.

Tip #3: Wherever you decide to pose, make sure the background isn’t messy!

Tip #4: Avoid using candid shots in your house or at a bar. This is not the type of impression you want to give as a professional.

1.    Clothing

Wear clothes that are fitted and comfortable, and make sure the colors don’t clash with the background.

TIP #5: Patterns can become distorted with the camera lens. Instead, try to wear a solid-colored shirt.

·         Casual

There’s no need to go all out. You can wear a nice pair of jeans and still look authorly. Just leave shirts with catchy phrases in your closet.

·         Formal

Wearing a button-up shirt, or a blazer over a plain shirt, is a look that can never go wrong.

Tip #6: Ladies, don’t show cleavage. You wouldn’t go on a job interview with an obscenely low cut shirt, so don’t wear one for your author photo. 

TIP # 6 continued: (Thank you, David, for this one.) Men, no chest hair. Keep your shirt buttoned! This is not a photo shoot for a cologne ad.

·         Jewelry

Keep your jewelry to a minimum; one pair of earrings (or one big pair with studs) and one necklace. Too much jewelry can look gaudy.

Tip #7: A long pearl necklace adds a touch of elegance, which is perfect for romance authors.

Tip #8: Use your jewelry to make a statement of your specialty genre. Example: If you write fantasy, you could wear star earrings.

·         Makeup

Keep makeup simple. This is not a Vogue cover shoot. Add a touch of blush, neutral eye shadow and eyeliner (if you use it) and a natural lip color.

Tip #9: Leave the clear lip gloss for selfies. A glare on your lips is the last thing you need. Swap it out for lip balm.

Tip #10: Don’t be afraid of a red lip, especially if you’re a romance/erotica writer. This is the perfect way to embody the sensuality of what you write without going overboard.

4.    Pose

Shift your body slightly away from the camera for a better profile that is less shoulder.

TIP #11: Experiment with different angles. I’m a head tilter, so I take pictures by tilting my head to both sides then choose the better one out of the bunch.

TIP #12: Avoid the hand/fist to face pose. This is outdated. Just sit up straight, face the camera, and smile. That’s all it takes!

5.    Say cheese!

Smile as you normally would when having a picture taken, or dial down your smile for a more mysterious appearance.

TIP #13: Whatever you do, don’t do the broody stare into the camera; you don’t want to scare your readers or appear moody. Be human and crack a smile! After all, you published a book and that is something to smile about!

4.    The Final Product

Check for clarity. You don’t want to use a blurry picture. Then choose between color and black-and-white. Color is great, especially if you are outdoors, but if you are in front of a plain backdrop you can opt for black-and-white for a sophisticated photo.


The story behind my author photo:

I was just getting over a cold and was still groggy and sneezing when my sister came over to help me with my “photo shoot”. I nailed two sheets of fabric on the wall. One was black and the other was the orange one in my current photo. I also had three different shirts with alternating jewelry. I worked hard on my makeup to hide the fact that I was sick.

During the shoot, I tried full smiles and half smiles. Afterward, I picked my favorites and asked my friends and family to vote for their favorite. In the end, I chose the picture I have because, at the time, I was hoping to publish my supernatural-thriller series, which is why I used a bright background, fanciful jewelry, and a mysterious smile. I’ve kept it though because I like how it stands out.

The two other popular choices voted on by friends and family.

QUESTIONS: Do you have a story behind your author photo? Do you have a favorite author photo?

I personally always enjoyed the photos on the back of Danielle Steel’s novels. I remember seeing her in ball gowns, in rich rooms, and even sitting in an antique car.


If you found this post useful, follow “Write With Fey” to show your support. Thank you!


78 comments:

  1. Great tips, and your result shows it as it's a very appealing author photo. Hope you enjoy the Challenge this year!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I am excited to participate in my first ever A to Z Challenge! :D

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  2. Your photo's great, despite the illness! I don't have an author photo yet ... but then, I guess I'm not an author yet, except for a poem that got published. :D Still, I really do need a proper author photo!

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    1. Thank you, Trisha. I actually took my author photo when I didn't have ANYTHING published. I needed it for my blog and for my Facebook page which was under the "writer" category. I published a few short stories online and a couple of poems shortly after though. ;)

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  3. I love your photo! Excellent post here.
    So, what you're saying is, I can't use my photo during the wet t-shirt contest at the beach bar, or the white t-shirt with the funny words on it standing in front of a white door, or the photo with cat barf on the floor behind me. You've left me with nothing to live for... ;)

    River Fairchild – A to Z Challenge, a Jeremy's Angels Co-Host Minion
    Seasoned With Words

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    1. Thank you, River!

      HAHA!!! Although those photos would be very entertaining . . . that is exactly what I'm saying.:P

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  4. You stated "Ladies, don’t show cleavage", but some of us men type have Man Cleavage, or that 70's chest hair with golden chain thing going on. I am a little more modest, I wear a shirt to the pool. :-)

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    1. LOL! You're right, David. Men certainly do. Should I add "no chest hair" for men? :P

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  5. Lovely, fun, and very informative post on how to get that nasty author photo done. As a service to the community, I do not inflict my looks on the cyberverse! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Roland. It is nice to have you here. You are one of them lucky few who can get away with not having an author photo. :)

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  6. Such excellent tips! I really need to update my photo since it's 7 years old, but I just can't bring myself to do it! I really haven't changed. Well, I might be a little smarter and better educated, but other than that...

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    1. Thank you, Crystal! My author photo is a couple years old now, but I'll be keeping it for a while yet. I'm also sick at this very moment so I can't say I'd look any better. haha

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  7. My photo was taken at a dinner party, then cropped. My husband sent it to me and said, "This is a perfect bio photo of you!" I've used it ever since. Nice tips. Thanks for sharing all this important information.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches


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    1. Some pictures taken in surprising places can make excellent author photos. :)

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  8. When I published my book I decided to exclude a photo. I had a blurb about the author but I didn't like any pictures of myself. I wish I had read this a year ago, lol. I had to send in a shot for a book magazine. I spent days trying to get the right shot. In the end,it was one taken outside with a neutral background. The light was perfect. I was full of self loathing in the process though. Now, on social media I've gotten used to my pic's and don't worry about it too much. I love your tips about the background and clothing choices. Great ideas, Chrys. I love the background in your pic. It works really well here on your site.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! I'm glad you like my tips. I'm camera shy. I don't really like being in front of a camera lens; I'd rather be behind it taking the picture. So I wasn't too thrilled about having my picture taken and was anxious over how they would turn out.

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  9. These are such great tips. thank you! I really need to redo my pictures.

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    1. Thank you, Susan! I may redo mine next year. Or when a time comes that a new one is desperately needed.

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  10. Fantastic! But where was this when I needed it two weeks ago for my new book!!

    Great pictures too. I have to admit the star-shaped earring got my attention.

    --
    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches

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    1. I'm sorry, Timothy! I'm sure your picture came out good even without these tips.

      And thank you! :D

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  11. I almost never wear makeup these days, but I might be prevailed upon to put some on for an author picture if it really showed up better in pictures. I've always been told I have such nice skin that I don't need any enhancement from makeup, although I easily pass for my early twenties instead of my true 34, thanks to my soft, juvenile facial features.

    For jewelry, I currently have two piercings in each lobe, and a nostril stud, but the nostril piercing is so small and discreet that many people honestly had no idea I even have it till I mentioned it, or they got a closeup look.

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    1. You're lucky to have nice skin, Carrie-Anne. I have to use makeup to cover my dark dark DARK under-eye circles that make me look sick even when I'm not.

      A small nose stud can be very elegant. I've always thought about getting my nose pierced and I'd still wear a small, diamond stud in my nose for my photo.

      Piercings are fine. A lot of our readers have them, so we can too! But I have to say . . . a bull ring would be a no-no. HAHA!

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  12. Congrats on your very first A to X post!!!
    I'm a LONG way away from needing an author photo, but you can bet I'll keep these tips in mind for when the day comes.

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    1. Thank you, Beverly! That day will be coming soon! :)

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  13. Excellent suggestions. A very good way to start the A to Z with an informative topic. I could use some new photos myself. All of yours look very nice.

    I was surprised to find that I wasn't following your blog, but I've remedied that now.

    Glad you're doing the Challenge.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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    1. Thank you, Arlee! I have a lot more informative and fun posts to come. ;)

      Thank you for becoming a follower. I appreciate it! And I'm glad that I found out about this challenge because I'm all ready having a blast!

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  14. Great post, as always! I wish I'd had your tip when I went into my last round of author photos, but how wrong can you go in a field of sunflowers? :)

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    1. Thank you, Holli! And you CANNOT go wrong in a field of sunflowers! It is impossible. :)

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  15. Wonderful tips and the one about the men and chest hair cracked me up. LOL. I HATE having my picture taken so getting an author pic was a real chore for me. I am thinking about getting a new one and will keep these tips in mind if I do. Great topic - looking forward to seeing what else you have for us this month. :)

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    1. I have to credit David Walston for reminding me about men and their chest hair. lol

      I think you're photo is very professional, Julie. You look great in it! And I'm sure your next one will be just perfect. :)

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  16. Fun! All I know is I'm just glad the having-to-take-my-author-photo part is DONE. Not a fun experience for me, haha.

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    1. It's not a fun experience for many of us. As writers, we tend to not like being in front of a camera lens. Thank you for visiting, Ilima!

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  17. THESE ARE (oopsies) really great tips. Enjoy the challenge!

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    1. lol Thank you, Pam! And thank you for visiting. I'll definitely enjoy the challenge. I hope you do too. :)

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  18. Good tips! A good author photo can make a world of difference. :)

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    1. Thank you, David! And you're right about that. :)

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  19. LOL - no chest hair!
    Good luck with the A to Z challenge! I didn't sign up this year but have done it in the past. Fun and challenging...

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    1. I thought the "no chest hair" would make people chuckle. :P

      Thank you, Katie! I am really enjoying it so far and it's only day one. :D

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  20. You are brave taking on the A-Z, challenge. I do write every single day, but blogging... here to cheer you on.

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    1. Brave? I don't know. Crazy? Perhaps. haha I have so much on my plate as it is and then I added a 26 day blogging challenge! Thank you for being my own personal cheerleader, Brenda. :D

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  21. Great advice, but I hate all photographs of me! LOL Don't know why, they look like me, just a little off maybe? All my life I was told I looked like my mom. I've always considered her a beautiful woman but I never really saw her beauty in me- now my sister - no matter what - she takes a good picture. Always! I think some folks just are and some folks just aren't photogenic!

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    1. People that know me say I'm photogenic, but I don't think I am. I hate it when cameras are pointed at me, but if I have to have a picture taken I suck it up. lol People also say that I look like my mom, and in certain pictures I can see it. :)

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  22. I don't even have chest hair...
    My author photo is a silhouette. I'm going to try to keep it that way.
    Great tips, Fey!

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    1. Well then that's a good thing, Alex!

      A silhouette can work for some authors. It's mysterious. :)

      I just went to your Amazon page and I saw your tweeted about my post (I don't have Twitter) and I want to thank you for the shout out. :)

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  23. Wow! I didn't realize so much could go into a picture. No more selfies for me. Great post and lots od great tips!

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    1. Oh yes! A lot goes into a picture, especially a professional one.

      Thank you, Stephen! :)

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  24. That's definitely on my to-do list.

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  25. Excellent post! I recently did my author photo. My background is plain and I didn't put too much fuss into it. I can't pull off candid!

    Thanks for stopping by Untethered Realms blog earlier! :) Untethered Realms

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    1. Thank you! A white background and a simple picture is really all you need. :)

      You're welcome, Christine. Untethered Realms is an interesting blog. I am now following it. :D

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  26. Great tips, Chrys. I don't really like getting my picture taken—at least not alone. My author photo is cropped from a photo where I was with someone else. ;)

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    1. Thank you, Kelly. That is cool to know. I can't even tell someone else is in your photo. That wouldn't work for me though because whenever I try it their shoulder is still in the picture. :P

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  27. Good tips, Chrys. Nice photos too.

    J.L. Campbell writes at The Character Depot and the Jamaican Kid Lit Blog.

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  28. Good tips. My author shot was not long after chemtherapy, one of the few times I've had curly hair.
    Sue Ann Bowling
    Homecoming Blog
    Stormy's Sidekick
    Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

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    1. Thank you, Sue Ann. That would certainly make the picture memorable. I'm glad you're healthy and strong today. :)

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  29. Those are all great tips! My husband took my headshots - he's a great photographer, though doesn't shoot people much. More of an outdoors kind of guy. I had been hired to speak at a university and needed a headshot, so he took it in our guest bedroom! I still use both pictures, even though they're 3'ish years old now. They're so nice, why not?
    Welcome to the Challenge!

    AJ @ Naturally Sweet
    an A-Z co-host blog
    @ayjaylauer

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    1. Thanks, AJ! How luck you are to have a photographer as a husband! Places like the guest bedroom can be surprisingly good for photo shoots. :)

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  30. Great tips. I'd add, if you are taking a pic outside, then avoid harsh sunlight. It's never flattering.

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    1. Thank you, Lynda. And that is very true.

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  31. What a great post! I had to share it and will bookmark it for future use. It's really helpful info.

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  32. This is a great post, Chrys! I still don't have an "author photo" yet, just one I picked from a trip my husband and I took a couple years ago. I totally want to do a "photo shoot" now! Thanks for the tips!

    Love how your pictures turned out! Great choice on the mysterious smile photo! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kristin! Yes, while I was creating this post I wanted to have a photo shoot for a new author photo. But I restrained myself. lol

      Thank you! I'm glad you think so. :)

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  33. Chrys, You've given some good tips and I think you're author photo is great. It does have an air of mystery.

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  34. Great tips, Chrys! I've taken lots of author photos outside and chose the ones for my children's work which you have already seen as the final products=) I'm thinking about taking some at my desk or more outside for my adult writing. Thank God one of our good friends is a professional photographer so his services are free. I know they can become pricey.
    I love the photo of you actually smiling=) You look beautiful in all of your photos but I really like that one!

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    1. Thanks, Gina! For my next author photo, which may be next year or later, I am thinking about doing it outside. You're lucky to know a professional photographer. I may have to use my sister again. lol Thank you. Everyone says they love my smile. I'll think about showing my teeth for the next one. :)

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  35. I think I WILL follow you! I love to write (nothing published) and will enjoy your tips. I personally love the author photos of Clive Cussler. He always poses with one of his classic cars - that is in that particular story.

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    1. lol THANK YOU, Mike!! :D I started this blog when I wasn't published and now I am, so you will be too some day. :) It's neat if you're able to use a prop in your photo that's in your story.

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  36. I haven't got an author photo yet, so these are great tips. Hopefully I can get a nice one soon :)

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    1. I bet your author photo will be great, Laura! :)

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  37. Hi Chrys. I'm doing A to Z for the first time too. This is an awesome post full of helpful tips! Thank you.

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    1. Hi, Calisa! I'll be sure to hop over to your blog right now to see what you've come up with so far for the challenge. Thank you and you're welcome. :)

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  38. These are great tips! The story behind mine is that I was with a friend performing as an extra on the set of the movie Moneyball. She's great with selfies, so it was actually a selfie of the two of us, and I cut her out for my main photo. I thought it was kinda perfect for the articles I write, which are animated-gif-tweet-recaps of TV shows. :)

    Random Musings from the KristenHead — A is for 'Almost Human' (and Action and Androids)

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    1. Thank you, Kristen. That's a neat story behind your author photo. And yes, as you said, perfect.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. :)

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  39. Great tips! I should probably redo my author photo, haha .. I'm not at a bar, per se. I was having a beer while grocery shopping, haha. And it's one of the few times my hair looked good. Also, I don't wear make-up like 90% of the time (besides mascara) so that's a moot point for me. :)

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    1. LOL! I have actually wondered about your author photo. Where you were and what you were drinking. :P

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