The Author Photo

Every step I take as a first-time author is new, part of an adventure, and that includes the author photo. It’s my responsibility to provide the author photo for my book to the publisher.

I decided to seek the help of my friend and colleague Walter Hearn. Walter insisted he is not a professional photographer, but that is untrue–at least in my mind.  He is a senior-level art director and designer who has been running his own design business for two decades or longer. He was being modest. Or he didn’t want to claim photography as his main specialty, especially people photography, although Walter constantly shoots pictures as part of his design work for clients.

So on the eve of the photo shoot I debated about what to wear. What color shirt would be best? Stripes or no stripes? I asked my wife and two daughters to weigh in.

I chose a light blue polo shirt with horizontal stripes. I know stripes might not be advisable, but there weren’t many solid shirts in me-flattering colors in the closet. I’m not exactly a clothes horse. The striped blue shirt would have to do. The stripes don’t make me look fat. This much I know.

I met Walter at Blacksburg Country Club this morning. It was about 80 degrees, with blue skies and a few puffy clouds overhead. I was a few minutes early, but Walter was already strolling around the parking lot with his camera in hand. He had snapped a few “setting” photos before I arrived. The day before he had called the general manager to get the club’s OK for our little photo shoot. That’s Walter–on top of everything.

We hopped into a golf cart and drove the front nine looking for ideal lighting and settings. Walter shot a bunch of settings. And he took several pictures of me–smiling, grinning, not smiling–through it all trying not to squint or furrow my brow. It took about 45 minutes. Then we went to lunch.

Over the next week, Walter, with his keen artistic eye and advanced photo editing skills, will sort through all the shots and put the best ones of me with the best settings.  He will make me look good. Or as good as I can look.

Either way, I’m lucky to have Walter along for the adventure. A good author photo is bound to be good for the book.

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