Help me choose my new author photo

I recently had new photos taken.  This is always stressful for me, which is one of the reasons I was a photographer once upon a time.  I far prefer being behind the camera than before it.  But books need photos, and I have a compulsion to keep them current.

That said, it isn’t a simple undertaking.  I can’t speak for other authors, but this is what a shoot entails for me.

1.  Choose a photographer and set a date.

There have been times in the past when I was all over the place trying to pick a person, but the choice was relatively easy this time.  Based on personal recommendation and her amazing celebrity photos, I knew that I wanted to work with Kerry Brett.  Since my last photos were taken outdoors and had been a scheduling nightmare of rain and humidity, I also knew that this time I wanted a studio shot.  Kerry’s studio is in Hingham, Massachusetts, an easy 45-minute drive from my home.

We picked Wednesday, June 27, 2012, for the shoot.  I wanted to get it done before summer, so that I wouldn’t stress the summer away, and what with Kerry being busy with Christmas photos pretty much from September on, a June date worked for her, too.

2.  Hire makeup artist.

At Kerry’s recommendation, I hired Dianna Quagenti, with whom she often works.  The deal was that I would meet Dianna at Kerry’s studio having made myself up with the look I like, then she would smooth, accentuate, or modify what I’d done to make it perfect for the shoot.

3.  Make appointments for hair and nails.

These things matter.  Easy phone calls took care of both.

4.  Choose clothes and props.

This was the tough part.  I took things out, tried them on, put them back.  I talked with Kerry about colors of my clothes and her backgrounds.  I took other things out, tried them on, put them back.

5.  Re-choose clothes and props.

More trying on and putting back.  Some buying and returning.  The process was endless.  Midway, I sent Kerry phone shots of various dresses, jackets, scarves.  Regarding props, we discussed the possibility of my holding a pile of books (decided against it) and a laptop (went with this).

6.  Diet.

Actually, it was more a question of taking care, in the three days leading up to the shoot, to avoid those foods that might make me bloated (carbonated soda, airy frozen yogurt) or puffy (cold cuts, Chinese food, anything else heavy on salt).  I mean, yeah, it would be great to lose ten pounds prior to a photo shoot, but experience told me that wasn’t going to happen.

7.  Sleep.

It’s the one thing that can make or break the way you look.  It’s also the one thing that is hardest to do when you’re as nervous as I was about this shoot.

That said, by the time I arrived at the photographer’s studio, my job was done.  I pretty much sat there and let the makeup woman do her thing, then let Kerry decide which of my outfits went with which backgrounds.

It was fascinating to watch Kerry – her thoughtfulness, tipping her head this way and that as she analyzed me and the light, asking me to tip my head this way or that, having me turn a bit to the right or left, to sit or stand, always her thoughtfulness.

Two weeks after the shoot, I returned to Kerry’s studio.  Of 500 shots, she had chosen the best 100.  We sifted through those, hoping to boil it down to five, but the shots were so good that I couldn’t choose fewer than nine.

Of those, folks, here are the final three.  What do you think?  I’ve given each a caption.  Which would you like to see on the cover of Sweet Salt Air?


Awesome Outdoors


Goin’ Green

Purple Passion



  1. melissa says

    Oh I can understand the stress!! Wow. However … worth it, look how gorgeous these photos are! They are all completely stunning. My favourite is the Awesome Outdoors – you look so chic, so relaxed … somehow for me that goes with the outdoorsy sound of Sweet Salt Air, if that makes sense? :-)

  2. Ana Rodrigues says

    Hi, Barbara! All the three photos are great. But I agree with the two comments above: Awake Outdoors has the feeling of Sweet Salt AIr. And you are beaultiful and looking so happy in it.

  3. flortessa says

    The first picture is most perfect, because like your novel sweet salt air, it’s shows refreshing background and bright face of the author as well the novel:)

  4. says

    Well I understand the problem in choosing because they are all beautiful of you. But if you had to choose, the Purple Passion one lights up your face. The color purple is very good on you.

  5. says

    Barbara, you DEFINITELY have to go with “Purple Passion”. The colours are vibrant and bring the natural beauty in your face. You look absolutely stunning in this photo. The outdoors one is not close enough and you look a tad pale and the green just doesn’t cut it. Scarf is waaay too big. Go with the “purple”!!!

    Love ya!!
    xoxo ~~

  6. says

    All of the Photo’s are Awesome but the Awesome Outdoors will go better with the title of “Sweet Salt Air.” I think you should only use it for this title and change it to the “Purple Passion.” for the next book! Can’t wait to read this book. I just know it will be as awesome as all the rest. You are the Best!!!

  7. Nancy says

    Looks like nearly everyone agrees and I am no exception – Awesome Outdoors is the clear winner. Can’t wait to see it on the bookshelf!

  8. Betty Stoecklin says

    Definitely “Awesome Outdoors”!!! That picture is absolutely adorable!! I can’t say enough about how great it is!

  9. Susanna says

    Barbara, sure wish that I was as photgenic as you are! All three photos are wonderful but my vote would be for Awesome Outdoors for the new book!

  10. Shelly says

    All three are beautiful so don’t take my uneducated critique the wrong way! The outdoor one is young and fresh but there is something about the way you are standing, maybe the way you are holding your hands, that seems uncomfortable, not confident. This is not the way I picture you feeling! The purple one seems to be in 2nd place, according to your readers. Though stunning, the placement of your hand is awkward. My favorite (and I seem to be the only one!), is the green one. It is soft, elegant and just plain beautiful. It is the most natural one as far as I am concerned. You look confident and comfortable without being overpowering or pretentious. Hope that helps! Which one you pick doesn’t really matter… I know that the book is going to be great!!

  11. says

    Goin Green is my favorite. To me it looks the most comfortable and the one that most closely resembles a person who would most like to “tell me a story”

  12. Teresa Rice says

    My fave is the GREEN!! I agree with Shelly TOTALLY (do 2 uneducated critiques make 1 educated one?!)!! Looking forward to the latest book! :-)

  13. Kathy says

    All the photos are awesome but I pick Awesome Outdoors. I feel your pain – someone points a camera at me and I go into a panic. All your prep was so worth it – you look fantastic!

  14. Judy Stratton says

    Yes, all are beautiful but I too love the first one taken outside, so fresh and bright! My second choice is purple scarf. Can’t wait!

  15. Nila Henson says

    You should use the Awesome Outdoors… love all the pictures of you, however this one the most. Can’t wait for the new book to come out… actually re-reading some of the old books. My favoriate is Three Wishes… could read that one over and over…!

  16. Mary says

    Barbara, there is no choice… The two close-ups look like “about the author” pics that belong on the inside flap of a book cover. Besides it’s ‘awesome outdoors’ when you can Smell the “Sweet Salt Air”. Lol…

  17. Marsha says

    They are all Beautiful and it is hard to pick but Purple Passion is the one I would pick although I have to agree with everyone and say Awesome Outdoors is great too

  18. Lorraine Thacker says

    I agree with the majority, Awesome Outdoors is the perfect shot of you and so different from any I remember from past books…come to think of it, that’s one thing I miss about books on Kindle! I liked equally ‘Goin Green’ for your smile in it, but your hair is so similar to older pics…I think that’s one reason I like the full shot so well, it’s new and fresh looking.

  19. Yolanda Queen says


    Awesome Outdoors is a very pretty picture. They are all good ; what message do you want to send? I’m guessing accomplished author. If this is the case, I would use Purple Passion and hang Awesome Outdoors above the fireplace!

  20. Bonnie says

    I like the awesome outdoors, but I also like the up close of the going green, there is something about seeing a person’s eyes in their photo, it’s a window to thier heart! All very nice!

  21. Elaine M Pittack says

    Awesome Outdoors has to be the choice. The outdoor background looks so relaxing as if there is sweet salt air around you and the fact that you look awesome in that pic makes it my choice.

  22. Marcia Harriman says

    Purple passion. The first one the arms are too baggy. The second one the scarf’s two colors look odd. Third is best :-)

  23. Connie Carroll says

    I have to agree with the majority of comments–Awesome Outdoors! Although, Going green is right up there. All three of the shots are awesome!

  24. Jane F says

    Definitely Awesome Outdoors! It makes you look so YOUNG! Second choice would be Goin’ Green. I’d stay away from the Purple Passion… just my opinion.

  25. Julie says

    Looks like the overwhelming pick is the Awesome Outdoors shot! I do love that one, the blonde looks really nice and the partial body-shot makes you look young and carefree! Your choice in the end of course, but you can see that is the “fan favorite”. Can’t wait for your new book to come out! Enjoy the Fall!

  26. Pat Puckett says

    Awesome Outdoor pic is my favorite………all are really neat….you are so pretty and photogenic with your beautiful smile!

  27. Debbi Burnie says

    My favorite colour is purple, and I have green eyes, but the title is “sweet salt air” … so You should go with the Awesome outdoors it is a beautiful picture of you …they all are amazing … but its nice to see all of you too !!

  28. Carin Buckman says

    OK – I am one of the very few who prefers Going Green. It is timeless, very striking, and knowing you just a bit matches who you are and your personality the best. Also, you can re-use this one for many different occasions. As great as I think the outdoors one is, I think #2 gives you the most versatility. Great new hair, btw!

  29. Holly Alessi says

    The outdoors one caught my attention right off the bat. But then I saw the purple passion one…..but I still like the outdors one the best.

  30. Kathie Newell says

    I, too, like them all. But I would vote for them in the order that they are displayed here, with the outdoor shot getting my Number One vote. Your pre-shoot agenda seems to have worked!!!!

  31. Susan Tolland says

    I have been a quiet fan for years!!! Even going on Ebay for some of the older ones… love all that you write! Awesome Outdoors is my pick, although all are lovely!!! You are relaxed!! All the very best!

  32. Julie Engler says

    I am going for the green: Goin’ green. All 3 pictures are great but w/ the title “Sweet Salt Air” the green reminds me of the sea at times. Looking forward to the book.

  33. Hollie says

    I love a full-length shot. Awesome outdoors for sure. Every “skinny bitch” should show her body off., and you know I mean that in the nicest of ways. :)

  34. Amy says

    You look very nice in all of them but I do agree with the majority that the awesome outdoors is my favorite. Can’t wait to read your next book. Thanks for keeping us entertained.

  35. Gayle Harvey Cohen says

    Hi Barbara I love them all but my favorite the outdoors one. You are very photogenic and take awesome pictures;
    Gayle Harvey Cohen

  36. Janette Prickett says

    I liked the outdoor one right off the bat. The others are good, but there’s something about the expression on your face and the lighting in the picture that make it extra special.

  37. linda fishman says

    i see i’m the minority, but my first instinct was to choose “goin’ green.” you’ve said your character is a farm-to-table kinda gal, isn’t that a major component of the “green” movement? :)

  38. Amy Price says

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Awesome Outdoors!!!!!! Not only do you look gorgeous, but your smile in this one is so fun. They all are pretty, but this one is my favorite.

  39. Phyllis Kusnitz says

    Phyllis wrote

    None of them..
    .’Sweet Salt Air’ Should have the feeling of Salt Air with an Ocean/Ocean Wave/White Caps/Sand and when you look at it you should almost feel that you experience the smell of the wonderful Salt Air…

  40. Sue says

    The awesome outdoors all three are great, but the outdoors would go with the total of your new book. I’ve just started reading your books, i LOVE THEM. Can’t wait for the new one.

  41. Cindy Hellebrandt says

    All three photos are great, but the awesome outdoors photo is more casual and friendly than the two studio shots. Love, love, love your books! :-)

  42. jeanie longo says

    I Just finished reading Together alone which is the best book I ever read. I am Trying to get all your books now.
    You are awesome. Thank you for writing books.

  43. Donna Frati says

    Nothing says…”Sweet Salt Air”… like the Awesome Outdoors !!
    Love it…How do you keep looking younger and younger…amazing !

  44. Bev Anne says

    My favourite is “Goin’ Green”. The first one cuts you off at your knees and is too informal for my taste. I like the purple scarf but the lighting in the picture causes too much shine on your face. I think the Goin’ Green is a perfect shot. Having said that the choice should be yours (you get 2 votes for every one of ours). Choose the one that makes you feel like your most authentic self.

  45. Milly I. says

    You look so fresh and fun-loving in the Awesome Outdoors. It says so much about you. Although beautifully done, the others are too formal. Save them for another occasion. My two cents!

  46. Trudy Gerovske says

    My personal favorite is Goin’ Green! Though I agree that the Awesome Outdoors would probably go better with the book title, I feel that the amount of white in the picture washes out your face and hair. In the picture with the purple scarf, the left side of the photo seems to have too much light on your face. Goin’ Green has the best balance of light on your face and allows everyone to see your face to the best advantage. :-) Thanks for sharing the pix with us!!

  47. Donna says

    All 3 are great. My least favorite is Going Green but even it is gorgeous. Your hair, oh my it looks so good. The color is absolutely awesome. These pictures in my opinion are the best of all you’ve had done for books. You look so healthy and full of vitality.

  48. Susan A. Fisher says

    It is so hard to pick just one. Every picture is truly you. Would love to see more, then I would really have a hard time choosing. I love the one purple passion but with the title of your new book I would have to say Awesome Outdoors. But you look beautiful in Goin’ Green. So I am having withdrawl waiting for the new book.

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