The Joy(and Horror) of Author Photos

My old author photo; this is me on the battlements of the Tower of London!
My old author photo; this is me on the battlements of the Tower of London!

I had a more serious post planned for today, but with the constant stream of horrors we call news in 2017 I thought we could all do with a little bit of fun. So I’ve decided to share a story about author photos instead.

The time for a new author photo

The advice on when to change your author photo is mixed. Some authors take one amazing photo at the beginning of their careers and never change it. Others get a new author photo for every book. Still others suggest getting a new author photo every 2-3 years, so fans can still recognize you as your face changes.

There are two reasons why I decided it was time for a new author photo. For starters, my debut YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is coming out this spring(exact date still pending). I wanted an author photo tailored to the genre I write in, one that looks almost like it could have been taken in a fantasy world.

Secondly, it has been about two years since I took my last author photo, and in those two years I’ve changed a lot. It doesn’t necessarily show in my face(although my cheeks are a little chubbier), but I feel like the picture above no longer accurately represents my personality. Over the past two years I’ve grown more serious about my career, and my dreams have grown much larger. I wanted a photo that shows these changes.

Creating one image for two identities

One of the biggest challenges for me was that the photo needed to represent both my fantasy novels and my freelance writing. This meant I needed an image that was professional without being too modern. As a freelance professional who works from home 98% of the time, I don’t own a lot of business clothes and most of the ones I have no longer fit.

What I do have is this beautiful coat, which I inherited a few months ago:


Combined with the sweater underneath(also inherited, because that’s the best way to get clothes), this is the perfect balance of professional and fantastical. Of course, this outfit meant I had to do one of two things: overheat like crazy, or go outside. My house is made of lovely red brick, so I decided to take it outside.

This presented two new problems. You see, I live in Canada. Toronto is one of the warmer parts, but it’s still Canada. Which meant that not only was it cold, it was also already getting dark by the time we got outside. We do have lights outside the house, but they run on motion sensors and one of them was broken.

So we spent hours outside, putting the flash in every place we could think of and eventually hauling out a second flash. We got a lot of pictures like these:

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And a lot of pictures like these:

Don't I look like I'm about to murder someone? Plotting, folks, plotting
Don’t I look like I’m about to murder someone? Plotting, folks, plotting

And some pictures that are cool and artsy but not at all what I was looking for:




Luckily, I did also manage to get the perfect author photo:


Getting the right photo took us far longer than it should have, and by the end everyone was freezing(well, I was only kind of cold; that coat is wonderful), but it was also a lot of silly fun. And out of all the author photos I’ve ever had, I love this one the most.

*All photos taken by my friend Alex Kennedy

What do you think of these photos? Have you ever gotten a professional head shot done? Tell me all about it in the comments section below!

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