Monday, February 6, 2012

Tips for Author Photos

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Elizabeth Spann CraigIf you’re a writer, you’ll probably find a decent headshot of yourself useful.

I’m asked for my picture for everything from guest blog posts to conference programs to books. And I use my picture daily for Twitter, blogging, and Facebook.

A headshot becomes part of our brand. Marketing ourselves instead of our individual books makes good sense for writers who publish more than once.

Like many of you, I’m not wild about having my picture taken. If I’m posing, I usually have a pained expression on my face. In fact, the last professional picture I had made, the photographer finally told me in disgust that she’d had an easier time taking pictures of the crying two-year old twins down the hall. :)

But in the past few years, I’ve picked up some tips for having these pictures made—both in a photography studio and out of it.

Tips for headshots--

If you go to a photography studio, make sure you use a photographer who will release the copyright for the pictures to you. Otherwise, you can’t use them online or for an author photo. And then, really, what’s the point?

At a studio, you’ll want to ask for a “business photo.”. If you ask for a headshot, they may think you need photos for a modeling portfolio.

You don’t have to go to a studio for author photos. If you have a friend or family member who can take a good picture of you (or if you have photo editing software to touch up the picture), you could skip going to a pro.

Photographers usually recommend wearing solid colors and staying away from stark white if you’re fair.

Black and white or color picture? I send a color photo to my publisher and figure that they can make the picture black and white if they want to.

Get both high resolution and low-resolution photos on a CD. Lower res works better online (for your blog, Facebook, and Twitter) and high res is needed for print.

If your headshot is for a book (as opposed to social media/promo), make sure you know the publisher’s guidelines. Some won’t want you resting your head on your hands, or looking off to the side.

If you’re going to a studio, bring a change of clothes for a couple of different looks from the same sitting. You might also want to bring a comb or brush.

Studio business photos are not cost-prohibitive. I’ve had mine done a couple of times and they’re run about $125, total.

If you go to a studio and sport the deer-in-the-headlights look, go to plan B. :) I had my daughter take the picture in my sidebar. I was a lot more relaxed, believe me. I just sent a copy to Penguin for the first quilting mystery that releases in June. My daughter was thrilled to sign the photographer release for the quilting mystery. Of course, when I was putting the release in an envelope, I realized she’d put little circles over her is instead of dots. This happens when you’re ten. :) Might be a dead giveaway that I didn’t use a pro!

Any other tips for photos? How do you manage to relax when having your picture taken (I could use the tips!)