Friday, May 08, 2015

Internationally Acclaimed Portrait Photographer Coming to Write Canada...

...And Why Authors Need a Great Photo

Whether it’s social media or a book jacket cover, a good, clear photo of your face is an absolute must for your book marketing. Time to stop hiding behind a book or your pet. While the photo of you from last Christmas is lovely, the chair growing out of the back of your head doesn’t look all that professional.  You’re a writer. Look like you’re proud of that fact.

Consider your brand.

Keep in mind that your face needs to be clear (and on social media consider that the image might be a thumb nail, so avoid distance shots). Don’t take a small photo and blow it up, or crop yourself out of a group photo. Don’t use a photo that’s twenty years old (or even 5 or 10 years old). When people meet you in person they should be able to say, “You look just like your photo.”

Chin up. Be real. Be authentic. Post a photo of you—the real you, what you look like right now. And be prepared to update that photo at least every two years or with each new book.
If you write nonfiction, it’s especially important you come across as professional, and a nice photo helps you look like someone who’s trustworthy. For fiction writers, you have a bit more license to express your brand visually.

The Evolution of a Profile Pic

Here’s the Profile pic I used before I started using FB professionally. Yes, that’s someone’s armpit. *facepalm*

Here’s the next photo I used. I cropped myself out of a larger photo taken at a family dinner and FB had to blow it up to fit the Profile pic space. Notice how it’s blurry? Notice the chair? Not exactly a professional pose either. *sigh* Live and learn.

I had a co-worker take this on a lunch break. He had a good eye and a good camera. I used this photo for a long time (longer than I’m recommending here), but it looks professional and didn’t cost me a thing.

These are the current shots I’m using, done by a professional photographer (notice a difference in quality? I do). One is more formal than the other and I like that versatility. Also, the less formal pic has me offset from center, so if I wanted to add text to it for a web banner or cover photo, I have that option. *Photo credit Sarah Grace Photography*

A professional headshot is the next step. 

The last photo  is just a cropped version of the above photo with a filter. All done in picmonkey.

At Write Canada this year we’ve got Stephen Woo coming. He’s a professional photographer with 25 years experience. His photography has taken him to over 50 countries and captured many award-winning photos. Browse his online portfolio at

Woo says to come for the photo sessions dressed as a character – the persona you want for your head shot. He doesn’t mean dress up like Sherlock Holmes, but if you’re writing non-fiction come dressed as a professional, someone who’s trustworthy and looks credible. If you’re a fiction author, choose clothes (and jewellery, etc.) that capture your brand. Look though the Facebook accounts of fiction authors writing in your genre. How does what they’re wearing hint at what they write? At the tone of what they write? 

If you write in more than one genre, changing your headshot on the book cover or social media accounts can help readers know what kind of book you’re promoting at any given time.
At Write Canada for $50 you can get two professionally edited headshots (poses) by a professional photographer. The first 20 people who register you’ll get a third edited shot for free.

Email: for more information and to register. 

Blog Post by Lisa Hall-Wilson, Assistant Director Write Canada 2015.


Peter Black said...

Lisa, so true. I confess that cropping from family or non-professional photos is the way I've gone, and the results are not the best.
Thank you for your helpful tips. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

I'm pretty blessed to have a photographer daughter. And I can guarantee she would be doing a lot of nodding at this post! Thanks. And good advice.

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