As a writer myself, I run with a writer-crowd, and so many of my portraits have been of writers for their book jackets and websites. I’ve always loved shooting these world builders and character makers, because they are fun people to talk to and because the special needs of authors are always interesting.
A frequent question that comes up when I’m planning a photoshoot for an author is “What should I wear?” It’s a good question, and, as with all the best questions, the answer is dependent on a couple things:
What are your goals?
The first thing to consider is “What is this shoot for?” Is it for your website about page, your photo-jacket, your twitter feed? Are you hoping to get a rage of emotions to use for different situations? Considering how you will use these photos is the first step to getting the photo you want.
Who is your audience?
Who are the people who will see this photo? Your fans? Newspaper readers? What do you want this photo to say about you to your audience?
Who are you?
What is your personality? Are you outgoing, shy, bold? What aspects of your personality do you want to come through for your photoshoot?
What makes you feel confident?
This is the most important question. Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself. How you feel in an outfit will shine through. If you feel confident, it will show on your face, and that is the first place people look when viewing a photo, and the most important.
All this is well and good, but seriously, what should I wear?
Okay, fine. I get it. All these questions and thoughts doesn’t really answer your question, it just gives you more questions. You want colors, you want styles, you want concrete advice! Well, if you’ve thought about all the questions above, and have some answers for yourself, you probably know exactly what you’d like to wear.
I advise my clients to wear bright, bold solid colors, black or white. This usually helps to a make a person “pop” out of a background. Most of my clients bring several options for outfits and then pick and choose what will work best on camera. I like to show my clients the results partly into the shoot to show them the direction we’re headed, and to correct the course if it isn’t what the writer wants.
The makeup artist I work with often advises that, before a portrait, making sure your hygiene basics are covered – showered, shaven to where you like to be, with clean hair, nails and teeth – will always make your makeup artist happy.
The important thing to remember for your author portrait is that it is a thousand first impressions. When someone picks up your book or goes to your website, that will be their first impression of you. Making that what you want it to be is important, and worth investing in.
Perhaps, for you, that means a friend takes a quick snapshot, or maybe it means hiring a pro. Whatever you decide, being aware of the choice, and those first impressions, is important.