A picture is worth a thousand words. Avoid lame author portraits. Your agent, family, and fans will thank you.

For years, we’ve heard the adage about pictures having impact. But in the age of digital photography, it is tempting to think that anyone with a camera is a photographer. It’s a lie.

Contrary to popular belief, there is not an app for talent.

Your author picture matters. If you don’t have a high-quality picture, you won’t be taken seriously.

Like it or not, that’s the way it works in a digital world. You are judged by your pixels.

If you are an author, you need a professional quality author portrait. This photo is how you will be represented to the world on your blog, Facebook author page, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest account, your business cards, and on the back of your books If your portrait isn’t up to par, people can tell in a glance. There’s nothing worse than an out of focus, awkwardly posed photo.

There are photos that belong in family albums and photos that belong in the public eye. All too often, the lines between the two get blurred when people are on a budget.

Your author picture is just as important as your about me page. It’s worth every penny you spend on it. If you amortize the cost by dividing the price by the number of impressions it will have, it’s one of the best investments you will make as an author (right behind an author website).

If you want a professional photo, hire a professional. Don’t for the cheap photographer who uses a point-and-shoot or iPhone.

amateur photographer

Photography is an art, just like writing. Professional photographers are just as misunderstood as professional writers. Treat them with respect. Review the photographer’s portfolio before you hire them. Many photographers have websites that showcase their work.

See if their photography has these three vital elements.

1. Clarity

Do you know part of your body needs to be the focal point? It’s your eyes. The clarity of the eyes is the difference between a professional photographer and an amateur. Your eyes should have catchlights so you look alive. Look at the man’s eyes in the picture above. His eyes are sharp and in focus. The man in the first photo is a different story. He looks dull and lifeless. His picture is all too common and ugly.

2. Conciseness

Your picture is not a modern painting. The only elements that draw the viewers attention should be your face. This is not the time to be coyly posing behind a palm tree. The background should not be distracting. Your photographer needs to take the time to make sure the background is complementary. Look through their portfolio. Are there ugly elements like bad poses or model placement? If your photographer’s portfolio resembles a photo mill from the 1990’s, run far, far away.

3. Consistent

How does your photographer draw out  their models personalities? Your image personifies your brand and you need to make sure that your photographer can help you present that. If you write about horses, incorporate a horse into your picture. If you write thrillers, you can take a cue from Ted Dekker and experiment with shadows. Ask the photographer how they draw out the unique aspects of each client.

What kind of experience do you have with photographers? What tips for finding a photographer can you share?

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