Pub day is like a birthday. It comes every year at the same time, so readers know to expect it. You make lists of what you want and lists of what you hope. You wait for it … wait for it … wait for it. Then, finally, it’s here. You’re a year older. But you have a new book, new cover, new sales goal. You may also have a new author photo – which, honestly, for me, is the most painful part of the whole process.
I hate having my picture taken. Hate it. That’s why I became a photographer myself – to be on the back end of the camera, rather than in front of the lens. But my book needs a picture of me, and not a cute little stylized emoji. We’re talking about hair and makeup and clothes. We’re talking weeks of planning – losing a few desperate pounds, timing haircut and hair color and manicure. We’re talking poring through my closet for the right outfit, buying a new one and then returning it, because it’s nowhere near as good as what I already have. We’re talking multiple outfits, because while you’re going to all this effort, you need to take photos for more than one book, for Pete’s sake.
Over the years, I’ve done photo shoots in a studio, in a park, in a back room at the publishing house, at a store, at my home. On this pub day (Before And Again – YAY!!!), I thought it would be fun to give you a retrospective.
The Photo Retrospective
First, my first. It was 1980-something. I found a local photographer who loved the idea that there was love in my books. He plied me with wine, picked a rose from his arbor, and took this.
By the 1990’s, I was taking myself a little more seriously. This is from 1991, taken in yet another local studio. Look at that hair!
By 1993 and 1994, I wanted glitz. Here are two from those years.
Then came Coast Road in 1998. My publisher brought me to New York and took me to the studio of a renowned photographer, who tried to recreate the feel of the Big Sur coast. What I actually remember most about this shoot is that neither the photographer nor the art director liked the clothes I had schlepped from Boston to Manhattan. So the art director’s assistant actually went out to a nearby store and bought a few things, none of which I used. Not one of my most successful outcomes here. But at least the clothes are mine.
With the turn of the century, the photos improved. This one for The Woman Next Door was taken in 2000 on the front steps of my own house. I always do better when the shoot is local. It’s so easy to pick clothes when the photographer and art director are with me in my closet.
Then came one of my favorite photographers, Jerry Bauer. I’m not sure how I first got his name, likely from an editor whose author he photographed. Jerry was an easy-going, itinerant photographer. An American living in Rome, he used to come to the US to photograph for three weeks at a time. Definitely of the old school, he believed in using available light and his own eye. When I picked him up at the train station, he would be carrying one camera case. That’s it. Just one. We’d drive to my house where we’d have lunch and talk politics, then we would wander through the house together until I heard, “Ooooh … right here … the light … beautiful … tip your head … this way … back a little … chin around … perfect.” I used him for two different shoots. The one on the left is from 2004, the one on the right from 2006. He died in 2010. I miss him.
In 2008, there was an outside shoot at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA. The weather was a factor; the original date had to be scrapped because of rain, and then the day we chose was gorgeous but HUMID. If you have curly hair like mine, you know that HUMID is BAD. But I had no choice. Airbrushing took care of the worst of the curing ends. And I actually did get a shot that I loved. I used it on book covers, my website, and for publicity gigs.
Then I found Kerry Brett. She’s a dream of a photographer whose studio is an hour from my home, and she’s so, so talented. Our first shoot was in 2012. One of my most vivid memories of this is arriving at her studio and starting to change into the first of my outfits in her foyer when her dad walked in. He’s a renowned photographer in his own right, and I already knew him.
So there I was with a pair of leggings half on; I can’t pull them up under my tunic with him standing right there, and what’s the point of taking them off with him watching. So I froze and talked with him, bent over with my hands on my tights … until he left. The shoot was all uphill from there. We started indoors, then went outside.
I include two pictures from this shoot so that you can see the difference sunlight can make when it comes to hair. Same shoot, different lighting. Okay, add a little wind on the right, but you get the idea.
My second shoot with Kerry was in 2015 and includes my current author photo. Here’s another good picture from the shoot, but if you want to see the book cover one, you’ll have to buy the book!
Connect with me on social media: Twitter, Facebook, my new Street Team (click to join for fun, exclusive things I’m dreaming up), Pinterest, Instagram, and that’s it for now. I need time to write my books!