author stuff

The Evolution of an Author Photo

Does something seem different around here?

Does my site look a little more … professional?

When I first made an online presence for myself as a writer, I don’t even remember what photo I used with my social media accounts. It was no doubt some cell phone selfie that wasn’t the least bit official. But I distinctly remember back in 2012 when I first self published on Wattpad and Amazon and I had the realization that I needed something a little better than a selfie to represent me online.

So I did what anyone would do. I sat in my office (with terrible lighting) in a Batman shirt (that I believe cost $5), dug out the cheap digital camera from the back of the junk closet, handed it to my 8 year old and said, “Take a picture of me.”

And my first author photo was born:

I can feel your secondhand embarrassment from here. But it eventually got a little better. When my YA superhero series was picked up by Alloy Entertainment three years later, they requested an author photo for marketing info. I knew I should get a “real” photo, and I had spent years looking at other author photos and admiring them, but I didn’t seek out a photographer for a variety of reasons. The first being a healthy dose of anxiety and social awkwardness. I knew I needed a professional, but I was too terrified to call one.

So I went outside (better lighting), set up the camera on a tripod, and took my own photo. There was an awful glare on my glasses, so I removed them and smiled blindly at the self timer until it clicked. And thus, my slightly better but still awful author photo was born:

Not bad. Not the best, but it was okay. I was content with it for 2.5 years. I told myself one day I’d break out of my shell of awkwardness and splurge on a professional author photo … one day.

One day I’d do it.

And then the best thing ever happened. I landed an amazing agent, who landed an amazing book deal with a publisher who would put my next book in bookstores. Unlike my superhero deal with Alloy Entertainment, which was eBook only, The Last Wish of Sasha Cade would be a tangible book in real bookstores.

And you know what that means.

My publisher needed a high resolution photo for the hardcover jacket of my forthcoming book. I couldn’t put it off any longer, folks. This needed to be done. So I scoured the internet, asked my neighborhood website, and talked to friends in the Houston area to find the best photographer and makeup artist around. (Because if I was going to get real photos taken, I wanted my hair and makeup done, too.)

My anxiety was through the roof, and insecurities bubbled up from out of nowhere. My hair was stupid, my face was stupid, I’ve gained too much weight over the last three years. I’m a writer, not an actress. I spend my days in pajamas with coffee stains and day-old hair in a messy bun. I am NOT fit for public viewing.

In hindsight, I fretted more than I needed to because in the end, I found Dani Raine, photographer and makeup artist extraordinaire. And the best part? She had a contact form on her website. We arranged everything via email! Oh bless you, Dani Raine. Seriously, she is the total best. Incredibly talented and super nice, too.

She did my hair and makeup and had me looking like a freaking rock star, and then we went on location and took pictures. I felt like a total dork trying to pose, but she has some serious skills and she was able to mold me into looking like a normal human and not an awkward camera-shy author who hasn’t been out of her writing cave in months.

The results were amazing, you guys. It was so, so worth it. My only regret is that I didn’t do this years ago. The hardest part was choosing my favorite pose. Here are some of the options:

In the end, I recruited my daughter to help me choose the official photo. And this was her choice:

Ta-da! A real, professional, high resolution author photo that makes me feel worthy of being on a book jacket. I am a super legit author now. Huge thanks to Dani Raine! If you’re an author in the Houston, TX area, you should reach out to her. (Through the internet, obviously, because phone calls are the worst.) 🙂