The author’s photograph is a key elements of cover design. It needs to convey personality characteristics that are aligned with the biography, content and writing style to help the reader decide whether the book is worth reading (and buying).
I first had my picture taken professionally, when I was twenty-four. I was approached by a “drama instructor” who was convinced I had a career in advertising. All I needed to do was invest in a $100 photo shoot (and drama lessons) and I would be set. I took the bait and visited her photographer. He took seventy-two shots and two weeks later I returned to review the proof pages. He had difficulty finding a “good one,” which was a signal that the advertising world was better off without my contributions. I didn’t take the drama lessons.
Since then, I have had four corporate photos taken. They are all straight-on head and shoulder portraits with me smiling in front of a “grade school photo” blue background. The uniformity of this style is well-suited for organization charts and i-d badges but lacks the essence of the person. I wanted to avoid that look for my book cover.
A highlight of my authoring journey has been working with amazing people. Everyone has been a friend or a friend of a friend, which has added trust, connectivity and respect to all activities. I remembered that my friend Shari had asked a friend of hers to take her professional photographs. They are fantastic and captured her warmth, depth and glowing spirit in a way I had never seen before in pictures. I was thrilled when Shari agreed to introduce me to her photographer friend, Marlene.
Fortunately, Marlene agreed to take my photographs and we met at her home for the shoot. I have never enjoyed a photo shoot until now. Marlene’s supportive and relaxed personality turned an uncomfortable activity into an enjoyable conversation with someone I felt I had known for a long time. In minutes we were done and I wished we had more time to talk.
I was on a tight timeline because I needed to submit a photograph in two days to my publisher. Even though Marlene was not feeling well, she sent me the seven best photos within hours.
I chose my favourite two photos, which conveyed different parts of my personality: the friendly, exuberant guy and the serious, knowledgeable guy. I chose the serious, knowledgeable guy for my cover, which friends and family members also chose. I didn’t labour over this decision like others because when you see the big picture, you see it.