Author photos are a bit like dating sites profiles: you look too good to be true. No, you don’t run half marathons just for fun, and you definitely didn’t open up that village school for girls in Africa. The closest thing you’ve gotten to philanthropy was giving the homeless guy three bucks in quarters that one time you were stopped at a red light. Exercise is the equivalent of walking to the fridge for left-over pizza because you just can’t seem to get through this one scene in your new draft without a little pick-me-up. That’s the reality. You’re still in your pajamas at 11AM on a weekday wondering what sort of TV you can binge watch as a reward for hitting your 3,500 words for the day.
So when you see us all gussied up and pretty, and this is important, THIN, it’s because someone, somewhere is a photography god, and can make us look 25 instead of 45. They use their magic mumbo jumbo, this thing called a camera, and they make you look absolutely amazeballs. Those people, every single one of them, deserve a god damn award because we’ll be using that photo for the next freakin’ decade. Any author who says differently is a liar. Trust me – go flip open the dusk jacket of any book you have on your shelf. Stephen King hasn’t aged one god damn day since the ’80s. Either he’s done a deal with the devil (which wouldn’t surprise me) or his publicist is pulling that crap out of the archives every time he’s got a new book coming out. It happens.
I’m not pointing fingers because I’m no different. Confession time: my very first head shot was a sideways snapshot of me talking to my mother-in-law in a dark country pub somewhere in the county of Kent in Ye Olde England, on a holiday, to visit family. In 2011.
So we all do it, myself included, which is why I needed new photos, no matter how much I loathe the whole process.
Enter my sister-in-law, Jodi Hanagan of jodihanaganphotography.com
I’m a big believer that the people who know you best are also the people most likely to capture the true you. That’s not to say that they don’t adjust the lighting or soften the edges, but they do seem to have an uncanny ability to capture the essence of who you are without pulling out all the props and wind machines, and frankly, funky angles that people are willing to contort into to look 5 pounds lighter.
So if I have to have photos done, then I want someone who understands me. That’s why I feel super lucky to have my sister-in-law, Jodi, who is my own photography god (*see above). I’m not good posing in front of a camera. It’s not natural, it’s totally awkward, and I have a tendency to grit my teeth like someone has rammed a pole up my butt. But having my sister take my photo is more like a girls’ slumber party. If I have to listen to someone boss me around and tell me to put on my prettiest smile, it’s much more natural to have someone say it who happens to be related to me. Call it the big sister thing. It works for me.
At the same time, Jodi is a professional photographer and knows exactly what she’s doing so there is that. And she’s good at what she does, too. So perhaps I have a bit of an unfair advantage there. I’ll take what I can get.
If you ever have to have photos taken, I’d suggest going down the family tree if you can. Someone somewhere has to be good with a camera. Take them up on their offer to help you, especially if you’re just starting out, or you’re like me and hate photo shoots. They’ll get the job done at a reasonable price, and they’re likely to capture you for who you really are.
Just watch the funny angles and the wind machines.