Friday, March 7, 2008

Say Cheese, Not Cheesey!

On this fabulous Friday, I asked my blogmates and you all for tips on taking a great publicity photo because I am in the throes of having a new one taken for publicity. The impetus is my new psychological suspense novel "Baby, Baby" which is coming out next February, and because I no longer look like my publicity stills. Sigh.
So -- what's the trick for looking absolutely FABULOUS??
- Chin out/in?
- Look up/down?
- Smile/don't smile?
- Cowl neck/V-neck/turtleneck/shirt collar?
- And what about the hand-to-chin thing?

HANK: A great pal of mine once gave me some great photo advice: channel your brain to think: I am SO happy, I am SO lucky, and I'm absolutely confident about what I'm doing. It kind of works--it makes your eyes shine or something. Can't wait to see the photos! In TV, the mantra is never look down into the camera. Don't have the lens lower than eye level. Smiling. Well, you don't want to have the "I'm so THRILLED I have A BOOK!!!" expression. Again, whatever feels like you look confident. And you know how you look best. Ro said (And I'm sure tongue in cheek) she practiced a Mona Lisa smile for her photo...and I think that really worked for her. If I tried that expression, I'd look goofy. Just me, now, but I regret the hand to chin thing. It works, it's kind of natural, it gives your hand something to do and your face isn't off floating in space. Those are the pros. The cons--well, I don't know. When I look at my photo now, all I see is the hand. Although lots of authors do it. Yeah, well, you asked the obsessive/compulsive JR sister. That'll teach ya.

JAN: That sounds like awesome advice from a true professional. Hallie, is Lynn Wayne doing your photos again? Because the thing she taught me was to EMOTE through your eyes. Not through your smile or mouth.

HALLIE: Yes, Lynn Wayne who is the best ever. I guess that would be my STEP ONE AND MOST IMPORTANT: Hire a pro. This is not something to stand out in your backyard and have your husband/best friend/neighbor snap.

ROBERTA: I think it's all in the photographer. We're beautiful just as we are :)

HANK: And you're right about the beautiful as we are. You are the wise one, counselor. (Although false eyelashes can't hurt, I always say)

RO: At the Dec. 8 Sisters in Crime (New England) meeting I was whining about how I hate to have my picture taken and Jeremiah Healey started to give me tips...he's in the chin down camp. Also advised me to keep my eyes open wide. FYI I looked as if I stuck my finger into an electrical outlet. I am currently in love with JT Ellison's pic. She's straight-on, serious, nonsmiling. I love it and will try for that next time. Of course she's a good-looking 30 yr old blond so I may have some trouble replicating, but I'll try. I have the hand on neck thing, not sure why they made me do that, but it looks like my neck least hand on face would have covered my newly developed Michael Douglas pouches.

HALLIE: Ro, those pouches are our friends.


  1. Just for the record, Hallie, I had false eyelashes once -- my friend and I went to a very cool place in Soho where they glued them on one at a time. They looked very natural. My friend looked naturally awesome -- I looked naturally AWFUL.
    I pulled them out one at a time. That part was actually kind of fun.

  2. BTW,
    I'd already seen the "before" shot, Hallie, which I've always loved. But am wowed by the new you!

  3. Perfect. It totally hits the mark--it looks wonderful, confident,a hint of glamour, very very beautiful--and it looks just like you, very natural, not overdone.

    That's a difficult combination--and I think yours is now the gold standard.

    I assume your fingernails (not shown) are Jungle Red.

  4. Wow, Hallie, you're a stunner! Love the hair -- a lot.

    Having gone through several rounds of photo sessions, I finally gave up and went to a photographer who speciliazes in author portraits.

    What I thought about while having them done was the psyche of my protag (the poor thing, what I put her through) and so they're a bit reflective/melancholic. Yours is just wow.

    Amy MacKinnon

  5. Wow, Hallie. Very glamorous. You look like you "do lunch" with the Lipstick Jungle gals.

  6. Thanks! Well, this is what a pound of makeup and a great haircut will do ya. I'm afraid when I "do lunch" I like like, uh, me.

  7. Oh yeah! Great shot, fun and personable -- and I think this is important for an author who's out there presenting, teaching,etc. as much as you are -- it's a true shot. No disconnect between the author photo and the living writer.

  8. Very nice! And you look happy, not fake.

    I need a new passport picture, and since non-professional pictures are now allowed, as long as you follow the government guidelines, I asked my daughter to take pictures of me. Of course I reduced her to helpless laughter by trying all the things you mention--chin up/down, eyes wide, smile/no smile. (The pictures are uniformly awful, but at least I don't look like a terrorist.)

    But this exercise did raise one question. They asked for a specific size image from the crown of the head to the chin. My response is, which chin?

  9. ::Snork!:: Sheila, I almost spewed coffee on my monitor.

    Did anyone see the "Law & Order: CI" where the cops were talking about an author's publicity photo? One cop commented on the pose (hand under his chin, Thinker-style.) The captain said, "Yeah, they all do that because it hides the double chin." :) ?

    I cracked up when I heard that, but I disagree. The authors I've seen do that tend to have enviable chins. Including that actor playing the author.

    So I would have to put an open book under my chins. :)

  10. This is why God, in his/her infinite wisdom, invented turtlenecks.

  11. Lovely photo - you look great and also full of personality! Susan Wilson, an excellent local photog, told me once that nobody over the age of 25 should be shot from below - and most of us should be shot slightly from above. Makes our eyes look bigger and our chins/necks look smaller!

  12. Just an aside - I've learned that for anyting with a flash I need to pencil in my eyebrows dark, dark, dark or they just disappear!