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Monday, May 21, 2012

Portrait of the Author by Danielle

The most awesome author "photo"--the book is cut out as the author!
It's interesting to see an author’s picture on the back cover of the new hardbacks as they come across my desk at Stillwater Public Library.   For me, the picture location, body position, lighting, expression and personal energy tell me a lot about the person, a lot about their courage, mettle and ardor.  The author picture provides personality to the book and gives the reader a better sense of what the author is really like.  We have heard that it's very difficult to become published the first time. Would-be authors usually have to go through a long process of finding an agent, waiting while the agent shops the book, hoping that a publisher picks it up.  If a contract is offered, revisions may be required. When someone's work is finally published, what a great accomplishment it must be for them.   

So, why don't these new authors, who have gone through so much in writing something that is worth publishing, take time to have an absolutely great picture taken for their author picture?

A nice, modern author photo from Darlene Franklin-Campbell's "Uncommon Clay-Poems."
For example, one of the books that came across my desk pictures a young woman wearing a tank top, sporting a tattoo on her upper arm, and holding a bottle of beer.  You may think this was a statement picture, or a picture that had something to do with the subject matter of the book, but the book was a general fiction novel.  Then there are the pictures that look like the photographer hurriedly said to the author "quick stand against this brick wall so I can take the picture that will go on the back cover of your new book".   Hasn’t the photographer or author heard the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words?  An author picture should be appealing.  Some photographs look like the picture was taken using a cell phone camera.   Maybe budget was an issue; however, there are several places that take photos for identity purposes that are affordable.

A photographer friend of mine suggested these points to follow.  Using a digital camera, take the picture against a solid colored background. Take several pictures, so you have choices. Make sure the flash is turned on and turn on all the lights in the room. Step a few feet away from your background so you don't make a shadow behind your head. Smile! You want to look friendly. 

The master of author photos circa 1980s.
Observations?  You don’t have to be Danielle Steele to have a great picture on the back of a book.  Though, it can’t hurt to add some of the wonderful elements in her pictures like the long gowns, jewelry and a red chaise lounge with cute dogs!


  1. Thank you for commenting on my photograph of Darlene F Campbell.. I only do photography as a hobby.. But I love shooting Birds, flowers and my grandchildren.... Ms Campbell is a friend of mine...She is and easy subject to shoot...thanks again.. Marilyn Boyd

    1. So sorry I meant that she is an easy subject to shoot....