The Dreaded Author Photo

I postponed replacing my original website and Twitter photo. Not that I liked that photo, but I wanted time to prepare for a costly professional headshot. Lose weight. Save money. Lose weight. Save money. Repeat.

Then the stakes were raised. Much Ado About Scandal was selected as a finalist for the 2013 Maggie Award for Excellence. The thrill of victory, my first contest final, followed by the agony of a request for an author photo ASAP. I didn’t want my original photo in the Moonlight and Magnolias conference program and PowerPoint presentation.

Panic ensued, and I called my talented friend, Cheryl Rae. I decided what to wear and the location for taking pictures, but I still didn’t know what kind of shot I wanted. I perused romance author photos online. Unfortunately I couldn’t use them here. Instead I provided images of 19th century paintings as some examples of the poses and techniques I found.

1. Subject Indoors at Work

Unknown woman, formerly known as
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,
by Samuel John Stump circa 1840

2. Subject Indoors Not at Work with black background (Assorted angles and color adjustments with apologies to Johannes Vermeer and his admirers, myself included.)

pearl_earing3Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer 1665

Black and white     |    More light exposure


3. Subject Outdoors

From above

Take the Fair Face of Woman…
by Sophie Anderson (1823-1903)

From below

Woman with a Parasol-Madame Monet
and Her Son by Claude Monet 1875

Against a tree

Ahalya by Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906)

On the day of the photo session, Cheryl and I tried all the poses and techniques above except prone. When we ventured outside in the hundred degree temperature, my once voluminous hair was about three inches longer than earlier that morning. I seriously considered hiding behind a prop like a large hat or fan. To my surprise, one of the outdoor shots was the photo I liked best. I emailed it to the contest coordinator in time and replaced the original photo I used on my About page and Twitter profile.

Jillian Lark

Jillian Lark ©2013

Jillian’s Note: Here’s my newest photo, a professional headshot, taken in June 2014.


©2014 Jillian Lark

How do you feel about having your photo taken?


  1. Gary Brandt says:

    Great picture!
    I think women are instinctively more concerned about appearance than men, not that I’d want to look like something a lioness just mauled. I stopped for a spur-of-the-moment passport photo once, with my DW along, her hair not exactly perfect, not the right makeup for a photo, not the right clothes. I told her it was a passport photo. She said, “exactly, it has to look good for ten years,” but she took it anyway. It looked great.

    • Thanks for commenting, Gary. I agree with your wife. I didn’t like my passport photo, but I’m thrilled I could renew my driver’s license by mail using the existing photo. Love that photo and looking ten years younger.

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