Monday, August 24, 2015

SMILE! (or not...) Givin' us your best shot

HALLIE EPHRON: When I started writing fiction, I was fortunate enough to have published writers in the family. Their basic advice: Take yourself seriously because if you don't, no one else will.
1. Make yourself an office where nothing else happens but you write (I made a "KEEP OUT" sign that I stick on the inside) 
2. Invest in the right equipment - computer, backup drives, Wi-Fi, printer (FAX machine and separate phone line used to be on this list) 
3. Make time to write - every day set aside a few ours for nothing else but writing 
4. WHEN (not IF) you sell your book, hire a pro to take a great photo of you for the jacket copy
So when I sold my first book, I started asking around for a professional photographer. I struck gold with Lynn Wayne. She takes photos of actors and media celebs and she had a studio in a scary warehouse building in what has since become a trendy Boston neighborhood. (I set a scene in one of my books there!)

The first question she asked was what did I want people to think when they looked at my picture, and my answer: This is someone I'd like to have coffee with.

She brought in a professional makeup person who made me look glam but not too glam, and took hundreds (it seemed like) of pictures of me. And what she taught me to do is to feel the "smile" -- so not just my mouth but my whole body feels like it's smiling -- to make a great picture.

Since that first session I've gone back several times. 

So who gives you your best shot? And what's your answer to the question: What do you want people to think when they look at your picture?

LUCY BURDETTE: what a good question and good advice! It's a kind of acting--which I have no natural talent for:).

I've had both amateur and professional photos taken. The one on our Jungle Red banner by Ruthanna Terreri is one of my favorites. We took hundreds of photos and it was starting to rain. She knew I wanted one headshot like an advice columnist would run, so she had me lean on the trunk of her car. I think I was too tired to be stiff at that point!

There were plenty of others that didn't turn out well, but this one for my golf mysteries I will always love. A friend was taking the photos out on the golf course--the golf course superintendent was there too. We had so much fun and I think it showed. That's what I wanted people to think--I'm in for a fun ride with this book and this author.

And I love my new Key West photo too. It was taken by Carol Tedesco in the Key West cemetery. I wish I'd been thinking of something:), but she did a good job finally getting me to relax and look friendly.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hallie, I love that--"Someone you'd want to have coffee with." Or in my case, tea.

My photos are taken by my friend Steve Ullathorne, who is a professional London photographer who specializes in media celebs and comedians. The one we used on the most recent book jacket was Steve's favorite from that photo shoot--I was very chuffed when he used it in one of his exhibitions.

That photo shoot was done in his studio, but we did one more recently in a recording studio in Crystal Palace and I love those more casual shots. For both those shoots I've had my make-up done by MAC in London, and my hair by Toni & Guy, so I am as glam in those pics as I will ever be.

The only problem is, I need new photos, and Steve London!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I cannot begin to tell you how much I loathe photo shoots. I worry about them from the moment I hear they are going to happen until the moment they are over. And after, too. As a result, it is really difficult to get a good photo, because I am SO nervous.

I love these old Channel 7 promo pix--I think I had just won something, so I may have been thinking "HA! I am GOOD!" and these are the expressions that ensued. Soon after,  because the universe works the way it does, the news director told me he hated my curly hair, and it's been straight ever since. So much for those photos.  (Do you see how too-big that jacket is? Whoa.)

I am a big Lynn Wayne fan, too. and you can see the different attitude makes. The tilty smiley one I think is the best photo of me ever, and I will use it til I'm 100. And the other the most confident.  I love them both. 

What was I thinking? Each time--"I am SO lucky!" What do I want people to think? Hmm.  Look at Lee ChIld's and Sandra Brown's photos. Tough. And glam. And smart.

RHYS BOWEN: It's funny, but I was just talking about this topic with my agent. She told me I needed new head shots and I said that new ones couldn't look any better than the old at this stage of my life! But then again I don't want to be one of those authors who use the thirty year old head shot until they turn eighty. And fans come to bookstores, stare at you and say "Is that the same person."  I think my photo should represent me, and at this stage ME has a few wrinkles and sags.

Soooo... do I get a new glam headshot or not? Difficult question.
The ones I have used most recently have been amateur shots, taken by my husband and friend Robin Burcell. I like them because they are natural. I want people to look at my picture and think "She looks approachable. I'd like to meet her."

JULIA SPENCER FLEMING: Rhys, I think that's smart. The last thing anyone wants is to look (much) better in the picture than in real life...haven't we all had the experience where you've seen someone's picture, then met him or her in real life, and thought, Who did you think you were kidding, bub? When I was a kid, my mother told me makeup should enhance a woman's features, not obscure them, and in the same vein, you want your picture to reflect the best you, not the Photoshopped you.  

That being said, when I got my last head shot back, The Boy told me, "It looks like you, Mom, but without the wrinkles." I can't recall the photographer's name; he was hired by my publisher, who also got in an amazing make-up artist who did a bang up job and taught me a few techniques for the  - ahem - older face. However, the license on that has expired and I'm going to need a new picture for the next book.

It's hard for photographers to get a bead on the right image for my books - Hank wears a leather jacket and it looks perfect for "Boston reporter," and Lucy relaxes in front of the ocean or a Key West sign and you know what sort of book you're going to get from her, but what can I do? Put on a clerical collar? Stand in front of an altar? Ugh. Any suggestions are welcome! 

HALLIE: Julia, just get a photographer who makes the real you come through! You're gorgeous!

Well, I confess, when I pick up a new book I go RIGHT to the author photo. Do you do that, too? And does what you see influence your opinion of the book? Be honest now...


  1. Hallie, I absolutely love the idea of "she's someone I'd like to have coffee with" . . . it's a perfect thought.
    However, I hate, hate, hate having my picture taken and I guess that attitude shows through because the author photograph on the book jacket is never something I feel compelled to check out and so it does not influence my opinion of the book at all.

  2. I hear you, Joan. And with all the cell phone cameras and Skype these days, those of us who hate having our pictures taken are really in trouble.

  3. I do like to look at the author pic on a book, but it wouldn't make me not want to read the book. However, if it's an amateur-quality photo, I now say to myself, "That's not very professional of her."

    I love my author photos. I had a local natural light photographer who came highly recommended. After I had my hair and makeup done, a friend came along with me and made me laugh as we wandered around my back yard and down the street. I'm not replacing those EVAH if I can help it! They are from 3 years ago, but since my hair was already white, I figure I'm good for a few more years.

  4. (And now I want to bake a pie after selecting four pictures of pies!)

  5. My author photo is what comes up when I post here - also my Facebook and Twitter picture. I had it done when our SinC chapter put out our anthology. My first "professional" picture. But it's several years old at this point (2012?). Can't see the justification for getting a new one.

    I know where I'd like to have it done, though. In the center of the town where my protagonist lives is a bandstand/what-do-you-call-those-octagonal-open-buildings in the middle of a little park. I'd like to be there, in jeans and a sweater or turtleneck/blazer. Kind of casual, but a little sophistication, too. And yes, a person you'd like to have coffee (or tea) with would be a good image.

    I love all the pictures in the JRW banner. You all look friendly and approachable (which I know from experience you are).

  6. Edith, I LOVE your author photo. For anyone who wants a look see, here's a link:

  7. I had my hair and makeup done for my son's wedding with the rest of the bridal party, with great results. The photos were wonderful. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking that it wasn't me.

  8. A few years back, in a grumpy mood, feeling strapped for cash, and with few choices of professional photographers anywhere close to where I live, I said to my agent (who also represents Rhys and Julia) "Why do I need a photo on my books? What I look like has nothing to do with whether the writing is any good or not." To my surprise, all my publishers since, one for each of my three names, has gone along with this. There is a casual headshot on their and my webpages but none on the book jackets.

    Kathy/Kaitlyn, once again the oddball


  9. Oops, that was me.
    Mary that sounds like a great photo setup. DO IT. Though I love the one you're using but MORE is always more fun. I have one of me with piles of books... I use it when I'm talking as a reader/reviewer.

  10. Why thanks! I'm waiting on news - maybe a new photo will be my reward (or my consolation).

  11. Margaret, that's exactly what none of us wants in an author photo - something that doesn't look like "me." You want the best ME you can muster, but not a glammed up photoshopped stranger. But I bet you had fun swanning about at that wedding.

  12. Hallie, you have scared the heck out of me. You go right to the author photo - OH NO. I hate having my photo taken, I always feel like my face doesn't fit together in quite the right way so...I tend to go for candid action shots. Now I have to have new pix taken for the required head shots...fear!

  13. Kathy, I think all of us has to do what works for them. And clearly, this IS working for you! And I found an adorable picture of you ...

  14. I always check out the author photo--sometimes before, sometimes after, sometimes while I'm reading. They don't affect my opinion of the writing at all. I just look because I'm curious. But, the candid shots are my favorites. A studio shot just says "studio shot" to me--something you have to do as part of the business.

  15. Kait, take courage! You can get a pro who will give you that candid/action feel but make you look your very best.

  16. Kathy/Kaitlyn, I love your sure sense of yourself. You're no oddball, just a woman who knows what she's about.

    I also love the photos of the Reds. Great smiles all around.

    My cousin Mike Kane is a professional photographer based in Damariscotta, Maine. We took a beach walk one Sunday morning. No makeup (I am not a makeup kind of gal), red fleece jacket (red is my favorite color), and the sea in the background. We may do something more formal at some point down the road, but for now, it works for me.

  17. We haven't mentioned it, but male author pictures are very telling, too. Seems like some of them want to perfect the mysterious scowl. Or a thoughtful pensive "I know something you don't know." They don't have to get their hair done.


  18. I always check out the author photos, and I also read the credit to see who took the picture.

    I will never forget going to a signing several years ago in Charleston and standing in line (there were no chairs - it was outside and it was hot and if you've ever been to Charleston you know how hot that can be) for a very long time waiting for an author who was late (very late) for the signing and thinking to myself, "(fill in the blank) would never do this. She would never make her readers wait this long." Then when the author showed up, honestly, I wasn't sure it was really her. The author photo she used was obviously an old one and one that had been touched up. I guess I'm the most shallow person I know because the whole experience left me not being quite the fan I had been. That's what comes, I guess, from knowing authors who appreciate and respect their readers.

  19. Oh, yes, male author photos! Such fun to look at… the noir-ish ones, and the happy ones, and the ones with dogs.

    It's hard to get a photo that really looks like you--because we never know what we really look like, anyway. The fuzzed-out glamor shots are ridiculous, though, totally land mines for hilarity when a person sees you in real life without the Vaseline over the lens. (I guess they just photoshop now.)

  20. Someone once told me to have a sip of wine before a photo shoot. I said absolutely not. How do you all weigh in on that?

  21. I hate having my photo taken, so I commend you all for this. I think all of these cover photos look great.

    I do think they should reflect who you are at the time, as I have certainly been to signings where I was thinking "is that really the author, they don't look like that on the back cover." And no, I am not naming names.

    But the JRW always look great, approaching, and nice. That is more important than anything else.

  22. I just had new author photos taken, but I haven't seen the end result yet. You all are making me very if I wasn't nervous enough before! I'd rather be BEHIND the camera than in front of it! P.S. You are all gorgeous and have author photos that reflect the inner AND the outer beauty!

  23. Here's... Brenda!
    That picture is great. In your element.

  24. Kaye, no kidding. There's (almost) no excuse for showing up late. Another peeve of mine is authors who show up unprepared. Like a VERY famous NY Times yadda yadda author who showed up at a packed event at a library and announced he'd just answer questions. I cruise right by his titles.

  25. Wine before, during a photo shoot. NEVER. It makes me look flushed and shortens my already-short attention span.

    And Annette Dashofy, you look great in your author photo:

  26. Kristopher... I agree.
    (And your comment reminded me of one of my early Bouchercons I met Deen Koogan who shook my hand and said, "You look like your picture." I didn't know whether to take that as a compliment or... something else.)

  27. Great topic, Ladies. BTW, you all look great in your author shots as well as in real life. It's great advice for all new authors to get a professional photograph. As a new author, the photo business was baffling. I'm blessed to be married to a professional photographer, but portraying the right image was confusing. I write a tough-guy police procedural series, so it wouldn't be right to use a photo of me in tank-top and flip flops at the beach. My wife wanted me smiling, and we took photos of me doing so, but really...murder is a serious business, so we ended up with a serious photo, which my publisher loved., I don't look approachable. Have coffee, probably not. Would you want this guy investigating your sister's murder...oh, yeah! But who knows, if my books become successful, maybe I'll be smiling on the back cover of future ones.
    Brian Thiem

  28. I check the author photo periodically when I read, just making a connection. You guys all have great ones -- very natural and very much your own personalities.

    Deb -- does "chuffed" mean annoyed or pleased?

    Julia -- how about a photo in the woods?

  29. Brian Thiem, you definitely got that handsome/mysterious look. Handsome as hell!

  30. When I see "chuffed" I always think of a hen with its feathers pouffed out. Strutting its stuff, pleased with itself. Is that right or is it the opposite?

  31. Denise Ann, "chuffed" means pleased. Maybe an American equivalent would be "tickled pink."

    I love seeing everyone's photos! And, yes, I do look at the author's dust jacket photo first thing. I don't know that it really influences me--well, maybe a little. There is an author (not naming names!) whose books I am just crazy about. But I wish I'd never seen his photo. I try to block it out. And I've noticed that a photo no longer appears on his books...

    I so agree on the professional photos, but also on the professional makeup--if you can find someone good. I had my make-up done for a video a couple of years ago and it was ghastly. I mean, absolutely horrible.

    When I've had it done at MAC, you tell them you want the "natural" look. They put a lot of make-up on you, but surprisingly on camera you just look...natural.

    Oh, on the glass of wine, Hank. If a person is really nervous and tolerates wine well on ordinary occasions, I might recommend half a glass. Enough to relax a bit but you certainly don't want to look tipsy.

    I have had a glass or TWO of wine AFTER a photo shoot:-)

    If anyone is interested, check out Steve Ullathorne's new Facebook page:

    There are great photos from the Edinburgh Festival, and he is so terrific at capturing expression and personality.

  32. Always look at the author photo and nothing worse than seeing the author "live" and thinking, "that was taken 20 years ago" OR "photoshopped to death." I recently had author photos taken for The Hanged Man's Noose. The first set were in a studio and I was so photoshopped I didn't recognize myself. The second set, I did have my hair and makeup done but the photographer took them in an outdoor setting in shaded areas (I'm at the age where I look best by candlelight!). No photoshopping so you see the crowsfeet, but I like them much better. I look like ME.
    I even did a blog on this experience myself if anyone cares to read it:

  33. I am so glad you addressed this topic! Absolutely, I look at the author's photo and decide whether to buy the book or not. I'd be wondering how y'all had gotten such fabulous photos. I had my daughter take my FB photo for a literary contest and asked her to photoshop out the wrinkles on my neck. It took several revisions but now the photo looks much more like the image in my head.

  34. Denise Ann, getting my photo in the woods is an excellent idea. I've been going with the more traditional, dare I say, female author approach: nice clothing in a well-lit interior place. Maybe I need to do like the guys do; put on a leather bomber jacket and stand brooding by a tree.

    Well, maybe not brooding. That is evermore not my natural expression. It would be interesting, though, to compare the number of male authors' pictures with/without smiles to the number of female authors'. I suspect the men get away with a LOT more serious and brooding expressions than women do.

  35. I love all your pictures, and good for you to have your hair and makeup professionally done. Natural is fine up to about age 27. After that we all could do with a bit of help. I just did a photo shoot for the NYT! I was interviewed by Robert Pear re my thoughts on Medicare's 50th anniversary. The shoot took at least two hours, and that photographer had me all over my house, garden, even my street, all for one small picture in black and white (color on line). These are my first pictures by a photographer since Medicare was born! What fun and how exhausting.

    I admire all of you so much, and I have to admit to being a Kindle reader, so here on Jungle Red is the only place I get to look at your pictures. You are all gorgeous.

  36. Chuffed always confuses me, too, Because it sounds like "huffy."

    My agent told me to smile in photos…that the broody or arch look doesn't work for women. Not totally sure about that.

    Julia, I am CONSUMED with thinking about your photo. But you are gorgeous and classy, and wry. Black or dark green blouse, kind of sexy, subtle soft gold jewelry, on a couch, looking knowing. Look up authors who you connect with. See what they do! (Now I see people copying MY photo. Love that.)

  37. My best yearbook photo as a teacher was when a student happened by and talked and joked through the session. They always "shot" us on our work day, easier to schedule and we weren't frazzled yet. She must have come to get her schedule, but by sticking around she kept my mind off the camera and maybe brought out the "I love students" me.

  38. Judy, I love that 'second choice' photo that you posted in the blog... such a fun read, getting a photo taken is a veritable adventure!

  39. Keenan, you photo gets the "distinguished author" award. Love it.

  40. Ann - NY TIMES?!? Was it published! Give us a link!! Dying to see...

  41. Storytellermary... Oy, yearbook pictures. now THAT'S a topic for discussion. I'd love a picture that said: I LOVE STUDENTS.

  42. I've been debating whether to have a new author pic taken all summer long and ultimately decided to simply close crop the one I have been using so it is more of my face alone.
    I read something by Erin Mitchell (and those who don't know me or Erin should know that I do everything writing wise that Erin tells me and if you are smart, you would, too!) Anyway, I think Erin said it's okay for crime fiction writers to smile, so I took that as a gospel. Besides, when I don't smile I don't think it makes me look tough or smart or serious, it simply makes me look grumpy! Lol.
    PS Hank, I clicked on this post in a nanosecond for many reasons not least of which is that I've always, always loved your author pics -- all of them are sooo good - one of my all-time favorite Crimespree Mag covers is the one with you on it!

  43. Thanks for stopping by, Kristi! There's a ton of great pictures of you out there. Like this one:

    I can't take a good picture with a straight face to save my life so I'm glad it's ok to smile.

    And here's Hank's Crimespree Magazine cover... it's a winner. Straight face with her boots on.


  44. This could not be more timely. I have my first headshot appt later this week and my palms are already sweating. Despise having my picture taken! Thanks SO MUCH for sharing your experiences and advice. All of your pics are gorgeous and engaging, too.

  45. You all look like someone I'd love to have coffee with - confident and happy! Last May, I had my first photo shoot for my upcoming debut novel and possibly suffered from the worst hair day ever known to mankind. To compensate (and with a little help from a breeze that kicked up at just the right time - I wanted an outdoor shot), my messed up hair ended up working for me. In the end, it was a lot of fun and I got the look I wanted - someone who's having a grand time! Thanks to all for this wonderful post!

  46. For all of you who are worried about getting a good shot, Debs and I talked about this offline--the secret is getting LOTS of them. A few are bound to turn out well.

    about ten years ago, Sports Illustrated did a story about me and the golf mysteries. Two photographers from New York came out to CT to take my pix in the golf course. They ran a shot of me in the marsh where a body was found, wearing a long coat and a frown. (Definitely they had no interest in hair and makeup!)

    My uncle saw it and was horrified--saying, that fierce person can't be my sweet niece!!

  47. Lida, this does not look like what I'd call a bad hair day
    And I love the dress. Where did you take it? That spot looks familiar.

  48. Yes, lots of pictures to get one good on. LOTS. Worse than dating, you've got to kiss a lot of frogs.

    Lucy, Sports Illustrated! I am impressed.

    I remember reading that Marilyn Monroe was quite picky about how she was photographed and new exactly which was her best side. I wonder if there are photo coaches who can give you tips on lighting, camera angle, etc.

  49. When I first got published (back in the Stone Age) I wrote romances, and the headshot advice was to have your photo taken on a bed or in a tub. (No, I never did. I opted for going out in the woods.) A romance friend was asked by her publisher to use a famous NYC photographer who gave her wine and took six hours to take photos. She was told to look "as if you just had an orgasm." I have to say she ended up looking kinda spacey. Which, come to think of it....

  50. Nancy, your comment cracked me up! So now I'm googling at photos of romance writers and asking myself: do I want what she's having?

    Nancy Martin, I love your author photo.
    Doesn't she look like someone you'd like to get to know?

  51. I hate having my picture taken. I always look like someone has threatened to torture me. My best candid picture was taken back in college by my brother. I didn't know he was taking it. A very pensive profile shot. I couldn't have posed for that if I'd tried. Julia I think you should have your picture taken outdoor in the woods or a garden. Or maybe in front of a beautiful church door.

  52. I do look at the author's picture at some point in reading a book, but it's not the first thing I do when I pick up a book. It might be now, after reading about the work it can be to have a head shot taken. Of course, I already know what a lot of authors look like that I read. Hallie, I love that you told the photographer to have your picture look like someone the reader wants to have coffee with. How perfect is that! I think all the Reds have great pictures, which express your inviting personalities and charm. They reflect a genuineness of character.

    I think that I'd like a head shot of me to relay a twinkle in the eye that suggests a little mischief and sense of humor. I can only imagine searching for the right photographer, listing "twinkle in the eye" result as what I want. I don't really like having my picture taken, and I think the best ones are usually the spontaneous ones.

  53. I love this post! Being a newbie to the author photo thing, I appreciate your takes. The thumbnail beside this comment is my author photo -- the only one I have. I think it looks like me, and I haven't aged much since it was taken a couple of years ago. At least, I HOPE I haven't aged much!

    I made an author photo day of it with three friends and treated us all to drinks and food after we were done. A friend who is an excellent photographer plus two girly-girlfriends who LOVE makeup and hair and have studied such things.

    I don't know what my so-called image should be, or if I should have an image, per se. I definitely want my photo to look like me, and I want to appear friendly/approachable.

    But, since my books are set in Ireland, should I go for a moodier look? I was thinking maybe a shot in front of a ruin or something the next time I travel over there. What do you think?

    Funny story: During the QandA after an Elizabeth George keynote speech, a woman stood up and said to her, "You don't look anything like your picture." WOW. Since then I've been obsessed with figuring out what I would say if anyone said that to me ... What would you say?

  54. Fun post! I needed a head shot recently and really wanted the atmospheric-dark-dangerous look, but I simply could not pull it off. Out of a bunch of photos, the only good one was me doubled over laughing at the whole process. :)

  55. I would like to see the photo represent present day in the setting of the book. That is generally not done. It s usually a closeup. The same closeup. Judy

  56. Thank you kindly, Hallie. The spot is on the UCLA campus (my alma mater - also my heroine's) and the dress is courtesy of a spectacular sale at Neiman Marcus. I'm a bargain hunter. Thanks again for a fun post!

  57. Oh, no. You've jabbed me right where it hurts. I am so overdue for a photo and, like Hank, I hate the process. Like Rhys, I think, but I get older every year...Okay, Femmes, you've done your work. I will get a new photo and ask to have it subbed for the old (ahem) one in the forthcoming book. Now, not knowing any celebrity photographers, the stumbling block is who shall I hire? Any SF area recommendations, posters?

  58. Wish I had someone to recommend in SF, Susan - come to Boston and see Lynn Wayne and I know where you can stay!
    Judy - that's a great idea! And in costume.

    Julie that's a great picture with your blog... is that the one of you cracking up?

  59. Lisa Alber - funny I don't think of Ireland as moody but wouldn't it be fun to have the picture taken there? Somewhere somewhat recognizable and related to your book? Can you say: travel tax deduction!

    Oh gosh, Poor Elizabeth George. And what a clod that reader is. And you know, Elizabeth George looks exactly like her pictures.

    YIKES! I googled Elizabeth George and up came her bio, her book covers, but the photograph supposedly of her is NOT (it's an Elizabeth George who's got a radio show called A Woman After God's Heart.) For the record, THIS is Elizabeth George.

  60. My author photo was a happy accident of sorts. Putnam needed a photo ASAP that we all assumed would be a temporary holdover until I could get professional shots done. My husband and I pushed the furniture aside after I came home from Zumba, I swapped my tank for a sweater (but kept on my Lululemon workout pants), put on some makeup, thanked the stars my hair had been recently done, and he got to work. He's an excellent photographer, though not a professional, and Putnam loved a handful of the shots so we decided to stick with one of them. We always chuckle when he has to sign a photo release form, and I love that his name is under the picture on my books and in any press. He was cheap, too!!

  61. Ingrid, it's a great shot. He should moonlight!
    Look how adorable:

  62. Travel tax deduction, yay! :-)

    I think Elizabeth George looks exactly like her photos too. All I can say it that I'm glad I'm the only "Lisa Alber" writing novels ... at least for now. I wonder if the other Elizabeth George benefits sales-wise from readers stumbling onto her books in their search for the "real" :-) Elizabeth George?

  63. My first book was about to come out and the publisher emailed Wed morning to say there was room for a headshot and could I get it to him by Friday. Eek! I called a local photographer we knew, knowing she's ALWAYS busy and not known to be fast and it was August -- wedding season -- but what else could I do? Turned out she'd moved, so it was a bit of a hike but down I went. She made the process painless AND got me the digital version we needed by Friday. (Getting the other versions, and a couple of prints -- another story!) That's what a good photog can do. She'll take lots and lots of shots, and move you and adjust you and relax you and you'll look better than you thought you could. I've been able to use the same photo for my mysteries, and people do recognize me from it, which is great.

    Except for the reader at a con back east who complained that I'd cut my hair. And it was curly, to boot. Like I'm not supposed to change my hair, or allow humidity to do its thing?

    Elizabeth George is cute as a button, and really does look like her author photo. But not only does she get mixed up with another Eliz George author, she had to use her middle name -- Eliz -- b/c her actual first name was already taken by an actress!

  64. Leslie, your local person did a great job!

    Here's Leslie with short hair and... her Agatha award for best first!

    Not a headshot but a great shot, memorable moment.

  65. Thanks, Hallie! As for moonlighting, I think he'll keep me as his only client. I like having my own personal photographer around the house!

  66. Thanks, Hallie! The wonderful Deborah Lacy (Mystery Playground) took that shot at Malice Domestic 2014 -- a most memorable evening!

  67. What fun to read everyone's experiences! My head shot was taken by a professional photographer in 2011 when I was doing a month-long residency at Ragdale. The foundation that had awarded the residency and a big chunk of cash to me for poetry hired this pro to come to Ragdale and take my photo. Only lipstick (I'm not a make-up person) and my normal hair, but he took hundreds of shots and kept telling me to get the smile into my cheekbones.

    It's time for a new one, but it's already happened. I'm part of an anthology of major Native poets (love that phrase!), and a famous photographer took headshots of us all and then had us handwrite our poems for the book that's coming out of University of New Mexico Press. He caught me at AWP, so I got to have my photo shoot in front of 15,000 writers. :-( Susan Shea, you might try him. Chris Felver. He's in your area, and he's taken all kinds of famous people's photos. Nice guy and he does a great job.

    After seeing how many female poets who are even older than me use obvious college photos for their author photos, I've thought about using my photo as Moonbeam McSwine in the musical L'il Abner when I was a senior in high school. But I'll pass.

  68. Hallie, I love your photo with the books... it's relaxed and contextual and you look like a person I would enjoy having a cup of coffee with. But I buy your books for your writing. You're terrific.

  69. Linda, YOU WERE MOONBEAM MCSWINE?!?!? For everyone else's edification, I herewith offer up Moonbeam's picture:

    And can I just say Poetry! How fabulous.

    Reine, mutual admiration, m'dear.

  70. Julia, perhaps you should be photographed next in a coffee shop, or a small town police station?

  71. Jennifer Gray! You won an ARC of WHAT YOU SEE! If you are interested--contact me at h ryan at whdh dot com.. if not, let me know, and I will choose another winner.

  72. I think you all have great photos, it is nice to
    see an author smiling on the jacket, I don't care
    what the book is about, I think the author can
    and should smile in their cover photo

    I like seeing someone approachable, so love
    when an author is smiling in their photo.

    When they aren't, I feel very distant from the author
    and not sure if I want to pick up their book

    I tend to look at covers, front and back when
    deciding on a book

    Debs, both great pics, but really love the one in front of the window
    Sounds like a trip to London is due for a photo shoot ;)

    Happy Writing !!

  73. Really interested in the fact that so many of us hate having our picture taken. Is it because we don't emerge as we think we look, or as we think we OUGHT to look?
    I'm guessing women writers carry heavier baggage than men in this regard.

  74. Oh my gosh, that's awesome, thank you!

  75. Per Hallie's request, here is the link to my 15 seconds of fame:

    I am the one who isn't LBJ.


  76. I bit the bullet after a topic somewhat similar to this came up here. My author photo was a quick shot - no makeup, no hair, just look at the shooter - from, um, 2000, when I had just taken a job at Santa Clara University. Time for a change after 3 books and 2 more coming? I hired a great local photographer who does actors and other pros and he heard me and came up with a few shots I'm using in different ways. I asked Facebook friends to help me select from my final 3 and got lots of excellent feedback. And it's me, today, 2016, wrinkles and all.