Your Author's Photo - 7 Tips to Getting it Right


Last month I spoke a bit about writing your author's bio and mentioned the need for an author's photo as part of it. Today I thought I'd talk a bit about getting your author's picture just right.

Along with writing, I do a fair share of photography. I enjoy taking photos of the seasons as seen above, but I have taken an actor's head shots, as well as done some graduation, wedding and professional pictures for websites, etc.



However, I'm not photogenic at all! And like some of my clients, I freeze when the lens is turned on me. There are, though, some tricks to getting the best photo possible.


  • Tip 1: Your author's photo is part of your image - a big part. Make sure it is consistent with what you would like your reader to know or feel about you. Think about how you want to appear - edgy or romantic? Whimsical or serious? Natural or funny? Check out your favorite author's photos and see what they've done to create their image and then think about what you can do to make yours stand out.
  • Tip 2: What to wear. Wear a color you look good in. Black is slimming, but you may find that a bright color is great against your face. Stay away from busy patterns and bring at least one change of clothes and perhaps a scarf, tie or other accessory to try.  Keep makeup natural looking - there is no need to go heavy.
  • Tip 3: Your facial expression.  Practice your smile before your shoot. You want a smile that impacts your eyes and appears genuine - or if you are a mystery writer, practice your mysterious look. Determine which side is your best and make sure to let your photographer know.
  • Tip 4: Where to go. Once you have figured out the image part, this may be easy to determine. If you have a professional taking your photo, an indoor setting with some lighting, etc will work well. If you are asking a friend or family member to help you out, you may want to consider doing your photo shoot outside, as natural light will give you a better opportunity to get it right. 
  • Tip 5: The photo. You may want to try both close-ups and some that include your whole body. For close-ups: I recommend the chicken neck. Pull your shoulders back, stick your neck forward, tip your chin slightly down and watch as the extra neck skin and chins disappear.  Play with head tilts - in other words, after each shot move your head slightly. For photos that include more of your body: Stand with one foot in front of the other angling your good side to your photographer - this is slimming as well. Remember the chicken neck. Focus your gaze at a place just above the camera.
  • Tip 6: Take a bunch of pictures. With digital cameras there is no reason not to. The more photos taken, the better the chance of getting one you really like. Not only that, but with hearing the shutter click, click, click you might just start feeling like a movie star and relax and have fun. I've found that some of the best shots I've taken, many times, came at the end of a session when I'd shot a hundred or more photos.
  • Tip 7: Photo editing. There is plenty of photo editing software to help you refine your picture. My current favorite is PicMonkey. I use the free version and it does, generally, all that I need. I also use some of my iPhone's editing software and that works well too if I'm taking a photo on the fly. 
A number of years ago I heard an interesting fact about photographs - you can take a photo of almost anywhere and anything and if you hold up the original photo and a mirror image of that photo, most people can tell which one is the original and which the mirror image - even if they have never seen the place or item before. We apparently have an inborn idea of what images should look like - except that is when we look at ourselves. The reason, we only ever see ourselves in the mirror - so we only see the mirror image of ourselves. That's why our own photos, many times, seem a bit off. In the past I always felt that my personal photos were so awful and looked nothing like myself even when others raved over them - now that I realize I'm looking for something that no one else sees, I'm a bit more forgiving about them. 

Hope these tips will help you get the author's image that represents you, flatters you, and allows readers to easily recognize and remember you!

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D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.

6 comments:

  1. Jean, these are great tips for taking your author photo.And, as you mention that head shot or body shot is so important. Interesting fact about mirror images and viewers knowing them from the real deal.

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  2. Jean this is a fabulous article. Photos are so important to our bio and yet so difficult to get right. I also found the comment about mirror images fascinating. Also the tips re the chicken neck. Thank you!

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  3. Getting a professional photographer to do my author bio pics was the best investment I've made in a long time :)

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  4. I love it laugh and smile but practicing a smile is out of my comfort zone. I'll have to work on it. I need a new photo!

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  5. Cool post..! Interesting to read.. :)

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  6. Thanks for sharing your ideas about photos, Jean. Great ideas.

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