Thursday, February 4, 2010

Author Photos: 11 Tips from Experience

Here is my favorite new "author photo," taken specifically for Meet Me (now at the printer's). Tips if you are having your "author photo" taken:

1. Ladies, the one makeup item you absolutely need for your photo is Mascara.
2. Natural light will make you look better than any type of indoor lighting.
3. Scarves and/or fur are good clothing counterbalances for women self-conscious about strong or aging facial features.
4. Men, LOSE the shades. They are not cool in author photos.
5. Men, SHAVE. The Abbie Hoffman look is not coming back.
6. Do not dress as if you are going to clean your bathroom. Do not wear a hat. I removed my glasses because fashions in glasses can "date" your picture something awful; just look at your high-school yearbook, or your mom's...
7. Nobody wants to see your pets. Or your cleavage. I mean it.
8. Make photos available in both color and black and white.
9. Get a patient photographer and PAY him. Mine is semi-pro Mark Deffenbaugh, and he had the knowledge and equipment to blur the background while keeping me in focus, and use fill-in flash to assist the natural light. Don't know what I mean? Get a photographer who does. This photo is not retouched, but Mark did excellent retouching on poses that were marred by a shiny face, stray hair or odd item jutting in the background.
10. Standard digital resolution for decent print reproduction is 300 dpi. Don't know what that is? Your photographer does, or should.
11. I put the photos online at the photo site where if my name is typed into the searchbox anybody who needs my photo -- say, Oprah -- can get, see, and download one free. Free, however, it is copyright-protected. I ask only that they give credit to Mark Deffenbaugh.

Author photos will persist long after you are gone. If you are fortunate enough to need an author photo, please think twice about everything.


  1. Terrific picture! I love the contrast of strong, darker you against the light blur of Wash U. Your expression is warm without being too stern; and not gooey or wearing a silly grin. I think it expresses smarts and strength-- and the soft touches of fur around your face say "creativity" and "feminine." Very nice!

  2. Catherine,
    This is a very flattering photo! Thank you for the writing tips and advice on your blog.

  3. Man, he captured the best expression in your eyes. Really, a stunning picture.