Purple Prose + photography tips

Tip # 86: Author Photos?

Last week, I had the opportunity to take author photos for my friend, Janet Gutler (Weight of Bones, Spring 2011). It was the inspiration behind this post. But even if you aren’t planning to have author photos taken anytime soon, the same suggestions work for regular portraits.

Most people hate having their picture taken (yours truly included). Here're some pointers to make it less painful, and to help ensure you end up with photos you’ll love:

• See if you have a talented photographer friend who would be thrilled to take them for you. The advantage of this is you already have a great relationship. You’ll end up looking relaxed in the photos, instead of looking like you’d rather be anywhere but there. Take it from someone who had her wedding photos taken by a person more annoying than a mosquito (This was before I knew anything about photography.). It’s not a good sign when your adorable four-year-old ring bearer wishes the photographer would fall off the ledge, and the rest of the wedding party agrees with him. Believe me, it shows in the photos.

• Weather permitted, see if the photographer can take the photos outside (or a place you feel comfortable). People tend to feel (and look) more uptight in a studio setting. The added benefit is there’re more interesting things to look at than in a studio. This, too, will cause you to relax.

• Let the photographer know if there’s anything you feel self-conscious about. They may be able to pose you a certain way to overcome that. But remember, chances are great only you notice whatever’s bugging you.

• If there’s a picture you love (e.g. pose), bring it with you to show the photographer. Most will welcome suggestions. For Janet’s photos, I showed her pictures I cut out of magazines. It gave her a visual so she understood what I was after, and we worked from there, going beyond what was seen in the picture.

• Dress comfortably and for the weather. I seriously don’t know how Janet survived the photo shoot in just her t-shirt. I was wearing a thick hoodie and windbreaker, and I was still cold.

• Bring several items of clothing or props with you. Janet also wanted photos of herself in her jacket and scarf. It gave the picture a more sophisticated look. My favorites, though, are the ones where she’s freezing her butt off wearing just her t-shirt (and pants).

• Expect the photographer to take a lot of shoots. Even if you’re friends with her, it usually takes a few minutes before you feel more relaxed in front of the lens.

Does anyone have anything other suggestions?

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Tip # 86: Author Photos? + photography tips