What You Should Wear To Your Photoshoot?

My Clone Is Awesome

I like this photo of J.C. Hutchins because it really captures how friendly and open he is. J.C. is like a friend to his many fans, your most brilliant, talented of friends, the one you want to see reach the stars.

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?


I love this photo of Mur Lafferty, it’s beautiful and feminine. In it, she reminds me of Hepburn. However, this shoot didn’t really fit Mur’s personality, so we ended up doing a re-shoot.

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?

The Editor

This photo of Mur comes much closer to capturing her personality. Mur is the Editor of Escape Pod and a visionary in new media. This photo captures her strong personality much better.

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.

I'll Die When I'm Done

For this picture of Tee, I wanted to document him as different than the friendly, sweet man he’s often seen as. I wanted to bring out a darker side, and talking about Hamlets father, we seemed to reach into the place an author goes when considering the darker sides of a character.

Writers from this post include J.C. Hutchins, Mur Lafferty and Tee Morris. You can see other examples of the writers I’ve photographed here.

To hire me for your own shoot, you can look at my rates or e-mail me at jrblackwell at gmail dot com for a quote.