You know the saying don’t judge a book by its cover? Oh but we do! We all do! And is this right? It doesn’t matter but it is important, especially when it comes to your book. Every book needs an image of the author — an author headshot. By having the right author headshot will not only enhance your book message but will add extra value to your brand. In other words, your author image is your business card before they even read your book.
Here are some important tips for the perfect author headshot:
It would be in your best interest to find a professional photographer who has experience in headshot photography but also understands image branding.
When in doubt, go for a sincere smile. A smile is approachable; it’s friendly and shows your humanity. However, a smile is not always necessary in an author headshot. A smile might be a slight obstacle. For example, TJ is a martial arts expert who writes a book on how to protect yourself when you are attacked in your home. Because the topic is quite serious, TJ’s expression should be somewhat serious. However if TJ was writing basic martial arts for toddlers, his expression should be more warm and friendly. No need to frighten the kids.
No matter which expression you choose, exuding confidence is important.
Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, your background should work with the subject matter of your book. You can’t go wrong with a plain solid background. Darker backdrops can create a more moodier, intriguing look. Lighter or white backgrounds are more versatile.
Wardrobe is paramount to a great author headshot. You may have a favourite outfit or a quirky unique sense of style but it may not benefit your brand. For example, Shayna is an image consultant who writes a book on the do’s and don’ts of dressing for corporate. Shayna’s headshot is an image of her with makeup suited for a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. Her outfit is flashy and she has way too much jewelry. Her look may create mistrust as someone who has expertise in the area of corporate business.
4) Break the Rules, but only when you know it will not backfire.
Some of the standard rules for a proper headshot can be broken for an author headshot, which would fail for a standard headshot.
In a typical headshot, props should never be used. For an author headshot, it can be of value. If you are a chef, holding a whisk adds value to your expertise. If you’re an expert in origami, a cute origami bird perched on your shoulder could work.
A standard image requires that wardrobe and jewelry frame what’s important, the face. It shouldn’t takeover the frame. You can break that rule and have the wardrobe just as important as the face. If you are an ultra-marathon runner, wearing your running outfit adds to your brand value.
A headshot is typically a cropped image, usually not going past the elbow. An author image allows for more flexibility. The image can be a full body image, a unique pose, seated, on an angle, from a bird’s eye view; there can be a lot of creative possibilities.
Your image shows your authority in your subject matter. Readers desire to connect and trust you; they want to know that you take your field of expertise seriously, that you are a trusted source. If there is no image, there is no appeal. If the image doesn’t “fit”, the reader may doubt that you are legit.
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ABOUT THE BLOGGER
Natalie Campbell-Djédjé is a Toronto-based photographer and visual storyteller of Natalie CD Photography. Her specialty is enhancing clients’ visual business and/or personal branding with images that align with their vision, expertise and commercial needs. Additionally, Natalie also specializes in fine art bouoir portraiture, transforming women into beautiful works of art.