Monday, April 1, 2013

A Portrait of a Writer

You may have noticed that a few months ago my little photo on the sidebar changed. Or maybe you didn’t notice. Actually, chances are pretty good that you couldn’t care less….

Anyway, as writers, there often comes a time in our lives when we need a photo of ourselves. People like to see the person behind the words. So if you don’t have the budget for a high-fashion photo shoot, how do you get a decent headshot?

Well, I’m no expert, but here’s my advice:

1. Look good.

I know, kind of a no-brainer- if you want a good photo, do your hair and makeup. But it doesn’t have to be a major production. Before I took my photo I just happened to look in the mirror and notice I was having a pretty decent hair day, so I decided it might be a nice opportunity for a little photo shoot. I just put on some eyeliner and mascara and called it good (probably could have used some blush and lipstick too…but oh, well). I would recommend not getting too gussied up, though- you want to look good, but still look like yourself.

2. Lighting, lighting, lighting. 

For my photo shoot I decided to set up near a window. I do this when I want a good shot of my kids, too- sitting near a window provides lighting that is both flattering and interesting.

3. Nix the flash. 

I avoid the flash on my little point-and-shoot whenever possible. The flash does unkind things to your subjects. Most cameras have a button that looks like a lightning bolt with a little slash through it- that’ll kill the flash for you, even if you’re in auto mode.

4. Set that timer.

Using a self-timer will give you much better results than handing the camera over to your kindergartner or using your own hand as a tripod. (Classic duck face, anyone?) Set the camera up on a box or some books, take a few practice shots to make sure you’re not going to cut off your head and make sure you have enough time to settle into your pose before it snaps the photo.

5. Strike a pose. 

This part can be fun. Start out however you’re comfortable, but don’t be surprised if you end up looking stiff and awkward at first. Check each photo after you take it and evaluate and then adjust- do you need to tilt your chin down more? Would you rather have your hair tucked behind your ear? Try tilting your head to one side, then the other, looking into the camera and then away, add an accessory like a scarf, rest your head on your hands,  think of something hilarious one of your kids did and laugh out loud just before the camera clicks (or laugh because you feel ridiculous taking photos of yourself).  Take as many photos as you need to get a winner (or several winners). If you find a particular pose that you like, stick with it and take several shots in that position- that way you’ll have plenty to choose from.

6. Editing is your friend. 

Editing: it’s not just for your WIP. If you aren’t familiar with the photo editing program on your computer, then get familiar with it. Use it to crop your photos, adjust the exposure and white balance and (my favorite part!) remove blemishes. (Don’t go too crazy with that last one, though- you don’t want to look plastic!)

It takes some time and effort (and a momentary lapse into narcissism) but have a solo photo shoot once a year or so and you will always have a current, professional photo of yourself that you can feel good about.

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