You can put lipstick on a writer but she’s still a writer.

September 26, 2008

Like most writers, I’m camera shy. Anyone scrolling through this blog can see I’m much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. Seriously–I would rather have a root canal. However, in commercial publishing, the author photo is a necessity, so off we go (or here they come, rather) to get a shot that needs to be a) flattering, b) honest enough that people won’t be confused when they meet me in person. Let’s hope A and B are not mutually exclusive.

People ask me why I never change my hair. Simple–because that would require me to change my author photo. Here I am, ca. 1988: 

photo by Greg Dawson; blank expression not his fault
photo by Greg Dawson; blank expression not his fault
My favorite photographer (besides the one I sleep with every night) is my friend Pete, whose off-the-charts creativity is like a force of nature. I also love the work of Brad Camp, who
photo by Brad Camp
photo by Brad Camp
has done some fun, creative shots for the local paper.
For a book jacket photo, my friend Christie Jenkins came to the rescue. She completely understands a girl’s need to avoid unflattering angles and wardrobe malfunctions. Her shots will appear on my web site and an upcoming reissue of Lord of the Night.
photo by Christie Jenkins
photo by Christie Jenkins

And then there’s Nina Subin. Like Christie, she’s old-school, using film and camera (Nina’s is a Hasselblad with Carl Zeiss lenses). My pubisher sent her with her assistant–a wickedly talented illustrator–to shoot in and around my home. We also had Jeanne Kobayashi, stylist extraordinaire. I’m not going to tell you how long it took to turn me into a “natural beauty” but trust me, she used all her mad skills.

Are we having fun yet?
Are we having fun yet?

I love Nina Subin’s work, and her portrait of Claudia Steinberg is probably the best author photo I’ve ever seen. The photo above shows us “working” (this is work?!) in my yard. Results to come. Stay tuned!

Did you know there’s a coffee table book of author photos? I kid you not. Porn for English majors.

  • Also was too tired to add or count obviously when I posted the above…….my picture is circa 1978……could have knocked ten years off, but that won’t work either ! I should just stay off the computer when I am so tired………….but your blog is always entertaining !

  • Love this post……..kind of what makes me think and wonder why I was still thinking it was ok to send people who REALLY want to know what I look like a photo that was taken when I was …..oh about 18 with my dad.

    Hey, I looked good then………my dad was great and I have happy memories of that time. Add twenty pounds and you have me still, and with the same hairstyle……..hmm, circa 1988 SW’s photo….. circa 1988 PF. Hmmmm What could be wrong with that ? Oh……the small fact that I am 47 years old now ? And that is a problem ……exactly why ? heehee……..I hate lipstick and have been conned into wearing it exactly one time. Yuck !
    Love your photo your friend did……..beautiful eyes too ! So, tell us, why would a beautiful writer hide in back of the camera Susan ? 🙂 Oh, yes, so you can concentrate on being so brilliantly creative, right ???? 🙂

    Long week, can you tell I am TIRED ? VBG !

    Seriously, am waiting to see the results of the “natural” beauty they shot at your place. How fun !

  • Susan,

    A couple of days ago I delivered a promo poster to a store that is hosting a signing on October 4. Ick. As I handed the poster to the rep, I began to consider having a professional photo done. Yours are always pretty. I look forward to the new one.

    I agree with you, the photo of Claudia Steinberg is stunning. If only I were… Ah well, maybe in another life! 🙂

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