by Chad Thompson
Whether you are a fiction or a non-fiction writer, start thinking of your self as a celebrity or an expert in your field, respectively. With that said, you will need a professional headshot. That’s not to say you need a glamour shot or that you should worry about competing with the faces of Hollywood. On the contrary, you want your photo to be sincere, professional, and most importantly you want it to look like you. Your photo should show you at your best.
If you take your career as an author seriously, so will your readers. Ensure that your photo represents you in the light that makes the most sense for your genre. For instance, as a mystery writer, you will have a little more liberty to do something edgy with your photo and further establish your brand as an intriguing person. If, however, you write non-fiction, you will want to ensure that your image is professional and that you appear trustworthy, confident and approachable.
As an important element of your marketing campaign, your photo will be used on your back cover, in trade journals, in your press kit and on your web site. It is often the first image a potential reader or client will have of you, so make it good.
Here are some things to think about when you go to have your pro shot taken:
- Your headshot should look like you. Avoid glamour shots or pictures that make you look like someone else. You want your readers to recognize you. Avoid cheese—forget the soft light and the boa.
- Stay recent: Renew your photo every five years. A photo from ten years ago is both confusing and unprofessional. If you have gained 50 pounds since your last sitting, it’s time for new a new photo. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to show up to a book signing and none of your fans recognize you.
- Avoid wearing clothes with busy, colorful prints and patterns. A nice solid color will be the most flattering in print. Also, avoid wearing large, chunky pieces of jewelry that may distract the viewer. Your smile or your eyes should be the thing that interests your reader, not your clothes or accessories.
- Consider having your makeup and hair done professionally and visit a color expert to see which colors work best with your skin tone. However, don’t overdo it—a natural look is important. For you males, consider using powder to minimize any glare and potential shine.
- Take the time to have several pictures taken. Include varying angles, poses, and facial expressions. It’s nice to have choices when you start promoting yourself. Also, consider the type of shot that will work best on your web site—plan ahead. It’s important to have a photo of yourself with a plain backdrop so your web designer can knock out the background if needed.
- Know your rights. Be sure to let your photographer know how you would like to use your photos and make sure you have permission in writing. It would be a shame to have to retake your photos because you can’t get the rights to use your image on your web site.
Your professional headshot will represent you as an author for the next several years, so make sure you pose with confidence. And remember, your readers want to know more about you, they want to know you—your photo is your chance to make a strong first impression!
Chad Thompson shoots professionally for Outdoor and Lifestyle magazines in San Diego, Arizona and Oregon. He is also a co-founder of Monkey C Media a full-service design house offering web and print design, and photography services. Monkey C Media is known for their innovative designs and unparalleled website creation and makeover programs.