Recently I saw a blog post titled "Is Your Author Photo Sending the Right Message?" The author (K.M. Weiland) contrasts two author photos, one as being the professional standard we should all aspire to, the other as a miserable failure.
The "good": "...a professional headshot of a smiling woman standing against a picturesque red barn. She was dressed casually but professionally, her neat hair and makeup highlighted beneath appropriate lighting."
The "bad": "....what looked like a picture taken on the author's web cam. This author looked like he had just gotten out of bed and had yet to find his way to the nearest Starbucks. He didn't make eye contact with the camera, which resulted in a glazed, disoriented look. He was wearing a T-shirt. The setting behind him was a messy desk. And the faint lighting cast a shadowy and gloomy pall over the picture."
Now, I know the "rules" for author photos. For cripes sakes, I teach the rules about author photos. Get a professional headshot. Nothing weird, quirky, amateurish, etc.
But....as I read the above descriptions, all I could think was....the lady's shot sounded boring as hell, and the dude's photo sounded totally intriguing to me.
Everyone's headshot looks "professional".....but the truth is, there isn't a hell of a lot of personality going on there. Perfect hair and make-up. *yawn* Perfect lighting. She's standing next to a red barn? Is she a farmer or something? That sounds like a set-up, almost manipulative. Too perfect. And totally forgettable.
Now, the "bad" example sounds great to me (I wish a photo had been included!)....the messy desk, the T-shirt, him looking grumpy. This sounds totally authentic. Because, let's face it, most authors are grumpy and messy.
A long time ago, I saw a photo of Danielle Steel in her luxurious, gorgeous home and office, and I laughed my ass off. Um, sure. How many authors do you know who look like this when they're writing, and whose homes look like this.....
Evidently, I'm breaking all the rules (I'm such a Rule Breaker! hee hee)....
1. Took it with my webcam (where I sit everyday and write my wacky stories).
2. Wearing a T-shirt.
3. No make-up and I had, honestly, just gotten out of bed. Which is why my hair is looking so big and excellent and Bon Jovi-ish.
4. Lighting is non-professional. Setting is non-professional. It's my messy office. Littered with art supplies, travel books...you can see my Kindle off to the right, and a photograph my son took.
This photo is totally me. It might not be polished and professional, but what you see is what you get. I love it.
Someday, when I make the big time, and Hugh Jackman says (in his excellent Australian accent), "Penny, you really must get yourself a professional headshot," then maybe I'll cave in and do the boring, expected, standard thing.
But my hair is still gonna be super big. Jumbo big. Just-rolled-out-of-bed big.
Waiting for that phone call from Hugh.......