by admin on January 5th, 2011
We are delighted to have Don Douglas guest post for us about using professional photos to promote your work as an author and publisher. Don is a photographer and owner of My One Thousand Photography in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. He specializes in wedding, portraits, landscapes and food photography. You can view Don’s work at his online gallery at www.my1k.ca.
A picture is worth a thousand words; every picture tells a story; you can’t tell a book by its cover…or can you?
You’ve worked hard to get that manuscript together, and either its been picked up by a publisher, or you’ve made the decision to self-publish. The story, or collection of art, or whatever, is perfected. Now you need that cover art and a photo of yourself for the author page. Sure, you could get your partner, friend or Aunt Ellie to take a snapshot – everyone has a digital camera these days. But if you have poured your heart and soul into this work, shouldn’t it have a proper picture of you for all eternity?
Why would you choose a professional photographer?
A professional photographer has a few things that the other options don’t, including professional cameras and lenses, a studio or lighting equipment to make you look your best. They also have experience and the knowledge that comes from hard work and/or education to know what makes a good composition and make you look your best and most natural. They also (hopefully) know their gear and know what to use to get a terrific shot. They may even have a few ideas outside the box of what you think, that will make your portrait even better.
(By the way, I’d like to point out, that I’m not suggesting that your partner, friend or Aunt Ellie are not good photographers, or don’t have a nice camera for the job.)
What if a professional photographer is just not in the budget?
Your cash has been poured into the book, and hiring someone for this one last thing just isn’t going to happen. Here is some things you can do to get the best shot:
Hire a professional. Okay, this isn’t a joke. There may be some budding pros who need to boost their portfolio. If you can find one, ask if they will do your portrait in exchange for allowing them to use your photo in their portfolio.
Light the lights. Make sure you have sufficient light. Photography is about capturing light. The more light on the subject (you), the better the picture. If its a nice day outside, take it outside – preferably in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky. There are less harsh shadows. A nice bright cloudy day is also good as well. If its indoors, make sure there is light on the subject (you) either straight on or coming from both sides to have your face illuminated. The Internet is full of more lighting suggestions in more depth than I can put here. And avoid using direct flash. If you have a flash accessory on the camera, point it to the ceiling or wall (preferably a white one) and bounce the light off of it. If it is an on-camera flash, use some sort of diffuser. This will spread out and soften the light so it won’t be as harsh.
Look out behind you. Really. Look behind you. Make sure there is a nice plain backdrop or lightly patterned background. You want the focus to be you, not the dog in the background. As well, make sure there are no poles or objects “poking” out of your head. You could use Photoshop later, but if you can fix it in the camera shot, do it.
Focus on the face. The reader or perspective purchaser, wants to see the author’s face. Not a full body shot. So keep the picture to the chest up. Also, keep it in a close crop with less objects around you that could shift focus (see above).
No matter which route you choose to get that author shot, make sure the shot looks like you, not a cheesy grin or odd-ball look (unless that’s the look you’re going for). Take some time to consider what you want, and by all means, have fun with it. If you have fun with it, relax and not get too stressed about it, your look will be more natural and it will look more like you.