Monday, November 3, 2014

Writerly Anxieties: Author Photos

I'm so happy to be here posting my very first blog for Across the Board! I'm Beth, and like all of us here, writing is my happy place.

I'm not necessarily the type of person who needs a happy place. I'm not overly stressed out. That being said, there are two surefire ways to freak me out.

The first thing is to take my blood pressure. I see that stupid cuff and instinctively go into fight or flight mode. My BP is technically fine, but I have horrendous White Coat Syndrome, and my doctor has to take it five or six times, and/or give me ten minute meditation time while he goes to his office to do some paperwork. It always goes down to normal after deep-breathing, but it's a process.

The other thing is being photographed. Unfortunately, this is something that's not so easily fixed. I really don't want to think about what would happen if someone ever tried to snap a picture of me having my blood pressure taken...

Anyway, I've had people tell me my issue with cameras can't be that bad. Well, I assure you, it is. In case you're wondering just how bad, this is me, having my picture taken:

And this is me, opting to forgo the smile, and instead trying to appear deep in thought:

And this is my reaction when the photographer tells me to "just relax" and "act natural.":

You get the idea.

I try not to let it consume me since being an author is so exciting, and each and every step along the journey should be celebrated. But I will admit that once the overall euphoria of signing with my agent died down a bit, my first thought was: "Holy mother of God, I'll have to take an author photo at some point."

So many things are involved in achieving The Perfect Author Photo. It has to capture me as an individual, but also needs to reflect my author brand, personal style, and my overall whimsy. It somehow needs to encompass so many sides of myself all in one teeny tiny click of a button.

Well, what if my whimsy is unavailable that day? What if the camera is too good, the lighting is WAY too good, and every insecurity emanates from my overly magnified pores?

Even worse, what if the photographer tells me to rest my chin in my hand and look pensive? There is nothing natural about that position, unless of course you're Dobie Gillis chilling beside The Thinker statue.

(Side note: anyone remember when Dobie Gillis aired on Nick at Nite?! Such an underrated show.)

Anyway, nobody can deny that Dobie rocked that pose. I, however, know I could not.

Then there's the part I can control but presents me with too many options, therefore overwhelming me: Atmosphere. I write light, girly YA. Which means my surroundings must scream "I'M LIGHT AND GIRLY AND SUPER FUN."

So where do I take this all-important breezy pic? A bookstore? A field of sunflowers? Sephora?

I have discovered that when I'm taking selfies holding my kitten I'm happy, and my face does not express a great deal of emotional distress. So there's a good chance that when the incredible day comes and my book is sitting on a shelf, on the back cover there will be a selfie of me and my cat, and, really, I'm okay with it.

Now, tell me your author photo story! Is it something that ominously looms over your head, torturing your very soul on a daily basis too? Or have you had one taken already and do you have some tips for me? Please share!

xoxo Beth


Carrie Beckort said...

Fun post, Beth! I too stress about getting my photo taken. My neighbor is a wonderful photographer and I asked her to do my author pic. It meant something more 'formal', but I knew it would be best because I'd be relaxed with her. She even had me do a thinker pose for a few frames just for fun. It worked - I was laughing and relaxed and the final product is a photo I'm actually comfortable with!

Jonathan Schramm said...

Thanks for the post, Beth! Funny GIFs! I'm not quite to the point of freaking out about my author photo, but I'm sure when I finally get there there will definitely be some anxiety:) But think of it this way. You've already done all the hard work by getting your book published. Now all you've got to do is smile!

Unknown said...

yay thanks! and you are so lucky you have something you love! I keep thinking maybe if I just ask my brother to take a few with his iPhone it wont be as threatening, since phones are easier to relax for than the big bad fancy shmancy camera with the huge ass lens and bright bulb. We shall see how this works!

Unknown said...

very true--by that point I'll be so relieved the ridiculously hard part is over maybe the pic won't seem so bad anymore! ha

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

OMG Beth -- Friends gifs and a Dobie Gillis reference -- are we sisters from another mister? I had my author photos done by a pro that I won in a fundraising auction. Best money I ever spent. Went to two good causes -- one of those being that I didn't look terrible. I don't consider myself particularly photogenic either. I'll be using those headshots for a long time. Unless of course I win some awesome Oprah makeover or something.

Unknown said...

hahaha this makes me so happy! I worried no one would know Dobie--besides my brother I've literally never met anyone who remembers this show. I even texted my fellow Nick at Nite loving best friend this weekend and he didn't even remember it! But I went with the reference anyway b/c it fit, and this way I can street team for Dobie :) And that sounds like the BEST way to get your author photo done. I'll have too keep an eye out for auctions like that, or maybe Oprah can come through for both of us haha

Leandra Wallace said...

No idea who Dobie is- but the guy playing him sorta looks like Tom Hanks! =) I don't like pics of myself either. Especially if I'm smiling super big, my cheeks scrunch up and my eyes get all squinty. Not pretty, lol! My pic on my blog and here, I took by sitting in front of a mirror and taking approximately 4000 shots. (not really, but it felt like it...) So if I ever get to where you're at, I think I'll be stressing too... But I'm sure it'll turn out great! Oh, and a 'field of sunflowers'. Heh!

Unknown said...

he kind of does in that pic! and it's embarrassing how many clicks it takes me to even get a selfie that looks remotely like me, so trust me, 4000 is just me revving up, ha. I've found when I smile too big my eyes get that squinty thing too, but then if I concentrate on NOT squinting I look like a soulless robot. *sigh*

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