“You must be the least photogenic person I’ve ever photographed.”
Our friend, and wedding photographer, greeted me with these words on our return from honeymoon. He presented us with the album and a box crammed with unused photographs. Nearly all of the rejected ones had me in them somewhere, usually with a less than flattering expression. I seemed to be prone to sneering. I put it down to nerves.
When things started to get serious with No Accident, Penmore Press asked me for a photograph for my author page on their website. As I prefer to take photographs, there wasn’t a huge choice – mainly holiday snaps taken by my wife and some selfies taken by a friend while out running. Neither said ‘bestselling author’. But our West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, came to the rescue. (He’s Columbo in the Kent Fisher mysteries, by the way.) Photogenic and cute, he more than makes up for my deficiencies. A holiday snap with the two of us was used for my author page. Harvey got all the accolades on Facebook, of course, and he now has his own page.
Fortunately, my friend, Tamara McKinley, had just had some professional photographs taken. Her agent and publishers were always after new photographs to keep the website and promotions fresh. Tam recommended Jo and it wasn’t long before I found myself looking down the lens of a digital camera.
Jo shot me at home first. (This sounds like a great first line for a novel.) “Act natural,” she said. That’s easy when the camera takes wonderful shots of you. When it tends to highlight your grimaces, this is not helpful advice. I posed as naturally as possible at my desk, facing my computer monitor, at a bureau signing books and at a table in the garden.
I went for my subtle, slight smile to show intelligence, wit and gravitas. Jo responded by saying, “More teeth! Show me some teeth.” This pattern continued throughout the shoot.
A few weeks later, I went to her studio to finish the shoot. We did shots of me in a suit, casual, a Dexy’s Midnight Runners look, outside in the country, and we used quite a few props. The experience was tiring, but brilliant and filled with laughter and cries of “More teeth!” By the end of the session, my cheeks ached, but I knew she’d captured some good moments.
I now have a selection of photos I can use for promotion, websites and publicity. I also have a new friend, who’s a natural, talented photographer. I thought she’d be lucky to get a couple of reasonable photos, but she excelled, giving me a portfolio of photos for promotion, publicity and website.
Best of all, I’ve never had to choose between photos before. Usually, it’s ‘that one will do.’ While I have many favourites, this is the one I like the most.