Monday, February 28, 2011

Personal Branding II: Author Photos

Before I even began submitting queries to agents and publishers, I sat for a series of professional author photos. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
If you consider publication the turning point between “writer” and “author,” I was definitely still a writer, but I wanted to be prepared. Besides, “head shots” are a given for anyone who wants to build a professional image.
After some research on the Internet, I decided to check out our local Glamour Shots, even though I thought it was a place to go for that special Valentine portrait. In fact, they do many kinds of photography, as I learned during my fact-finding visit. A face-to-face is a good idea before you hire a photographer.
I’d always considered myself a poor photo subject--all the more reason to book an appointment with a professional—and I didn’t look forward to the session. Once upon a time, the publishing company where I worked had its own photo studio. I had my picture taken there after receiving a promotion to supervisor. Well, in addition to “dressing for success,” I decided to emulate executives who looked brainy and serious and visionary in their photos--in other words, I didn’t smile. When the contact sheets came back, I was surprised to see that I’d scowled in every shot and had to repeat the whole session.
In order to make my author session fun, I scheduled the appointment to coincide with a visit from my granddaughter. At seven, Annie was the perfect partner. She loved to dress up, so I knew she’d have a blast with the kid outfits at Glamour Shots. She could wear whatever she wanted for her individual poses, I’d get my author photos, and we could have some pictures made together.
In anticipation, I finally made that eye appointment and got new glasses. I made my beauty appointments a few days ahead of the session, making sure my hairdresser didn’t cut too much off. Luckily, after all these years, Tina didn’t take offense at “Don’t scalp me.”
Glamour Shots had advised me about what to bring to the shoot. I put together several outfits, including a business suit; some travel clothes, because my book is about a trip; and a casual set for the shots with Annie. Then I took her shopping and bought her a top to go with mine. For her individual photos, she picked out a green fairy dress with a matching headpiece.
First we went to Hair and Makeup, just like the Kardashians. I let Annie choose her hairstyle, French braids. Listening to her occasional sharp intakes of breath, I was glad my much simpler do required only a couple hot curls and a bit of gel.
Annie’s makeup was a light touch, while mine was a dousing with Luminess, the spray-on foundation of movie stars. As for the eyes, “We line both the upper and lower lids,” the make-up artist said. “Looking in the mirror, you’ll think your makeup is way too heavy, but your pictures will look great.” They did.
The session went smoothly, and at the end of it we were able to view the digital results there in the office before placing our order. I won’t give away all my secrets, but if you need retouching, many things are possible on a computer.
I had Glamour Shots deliver my author photos on a CD-ROM. It wasn’t cheap, but I can use them over and over—as long as I don’t change my hairdo.
Annie proved to be a natural. Her mom and dad have taken countless family photos since she was born, and she’s been on stage as part of a dance company since she was two. Here’s my favorite pose from our session. Now, there’s a face for the cameras!