Tuesday, August 28, 2007

One Writer’s Advice: Save Those Good Photos

I love so many things about being an author, but one thing that I loathe is the photo thing. A simple reality that you cannot escape is that once you have a book out, someone (most likely your publisher) is going to want a photo of you for publicity purposes.

I hate this.

You might say, “Why Terry, you’re always such an upbeat person, why the sudden negativity?” Or as my husband would say, “Honey, would you like a little cheese to go with that whine?”

Well, I’m in the process of organizing a PowerPoint presentation for the annual SCBWI Ventura/Santa Barbara Writer’s Day (click here for details), and I have to include two photos of myself. Ugh...two??? Whose big idea was this anyway? Oh, right...that would be Alexis, my regional advisor (thanks, Alexis!). But I really only have myself to blame, as I’m the coordinator so I should have come up with some clever excuse to exclude myself.

I’ve been sorting through pictures and it’s no easy task—hmm...do I want something that shows what I do in my spare time (maybe catch the attention of that editor who has been looking for someone who knows a lot about backpacking or trimming cats’ claws), or do I choose one of me doing a school visit (to appeal to that person in the audience who is in charge of booking authors at his/her school), or do I pick one that shows me surrounded by my cats as I’m scribbling away on a notepad (to connect with the other writers in the audience). Now before you say, “Holy cow, Batman, that’s the longest run-on sentence I’ve ever seen!” or “You husband is right—you DO need a little cheese to go with that whine!” you must understand my frustration.

I collect photos from many other authors and illustrators for this project, and some (ahem, Mary Hershey, Val Hobbs, Lee Wardlaw, to name a few) take awesome photos! (Wait—it just occurred to me that they all live in Santa Barbara. Maybe they all use the same photographer--yes, surely that's it.). Compared to some of these other writers, I feel like I should put a bag over my head with a couple of holes for eyes. Hmm...I do have some artistic friends who could come up with a really pretty bag...

I used to think it was because I didn’t have enough selection (I was always the person shooting the pictures), but I’m finally remembering during the course of the year to take pictures of me at interesting moments. Uh...that didn’t seem to help either. Let’s face it, but there’s nothing like a picture taken by a professional photographer. And I didn’t see any this summer on Mt. St. Helen’s or on that cool whale watch I did off of Cape Cod.

So once again, I’ll harangue my poor husband into taking about 30 pictures of me so that I can find one that doesn’t make me totally cringe (until I can find a reasonable photographer that I like where I live). It’s like the old I Love Lucy episode where she and Ethel have to get pictures for their passports for Europe. They have to settle on the best one out of 100, and even at that, poor Lucy’s face is as twisted as a pretzel.

What’s my point? Save those good photos (unlike the one above)—save the posed shots, action shots, professional ones and fun snapshots. You never know when you’ll need a huge selection to find “the magic one” for the right publicity opportunity. That is, unless your Mary, Val or Lee!