DIY Author Photo

Today I’m sharing how I created a new author photo for my website. I hope it’ll help those of you who want to update your own photo. Thanks to the readers who asked me how I went about it. You inspired this blog post.

I figure there are four levels of author images on a social media account:

  1. None. There’s little connection with readers here.
  2. A comic-style drawing or a close-up of your head from any old pic. That was what I used for my website’s previous photo. It was okaaay.
  3. A DIY photo that’s intentionally related to your author brand. (My current stage.)
  4. A professional photo.

These are the steps I took:

1. I scoped out other authors’ websites to see what kinds of backgrounds, poses, and lighting angles I liked.

2. I considered my emerging author brand. My blog header image is black and white. My Favicon is black and white. Black is kinda cliché for a horror writer, I know, but I really do like black, so my knit top and my background are black. I also turned my color photo to a black-and-white image.

Speaking of photo backgrounds, mine is the budget-friendly backside of a poster taped to a closet door. Hey, whatever works.:-)

3. My lifestyle is rather pared down, and that includes my wardrobe. A layered, ruffled dress with a flashy floral pattern wouldn’t be me. I needed to stick with who I am. That’s why I’m wearing a simple, solid-colored turtleneck.

4. I took a big breath and told myself it’s perfectly fine if I’m not a fashion model. Neither are most authors. Or else we’d be models and not writers.

Use a napkin for crying out loud!

5. I made friends with an image editor. (I used GIMP.) I’m okay with the mole on my chin, but in my photos it looked like a piece of food I didn’t wipe off after eating! I also used an image editor to zap out a dozen cat hairs that were clinging to my black top.

6. Sunlight will make harsh shadows. A professional portrait photographer could take advantage of strong shadows, but I was using Dear Husband and his cell phone. I stayed indoors where the lighting was softer. I was near a window on a cloudy day.

7. My website’s sidebar is on the right, so I made sure my author photo had lighting coming from the right (as you look at the screen) to draw the viewer’s eye toward the center of my website. It’s like seeing what the light is illuminating vs looking at the light itself. But on Amazon and for most comment sections on blogs, the little Gravatar is on the left, so I flipped my photo (of a slightly different pose) for my Gravatar image.

Of course, smaller screens don’t even have a sidebar. My author photo would be down at the bottom if you’re reading this on a cellphone.

8. I wear glasses. Glasses are cool. But I didn’t know how to handle the glare. Solution: ditch the glasses.:-)

Further info:

Author branding ideas including author photo tips: Author Branding: Win Your Readers’ Loyalty & Promote Your Books, by Rayne Hall.

Book Launchers made a short YouTube video on why you need an author headshot: 5 Tips for Getting Great Author Headshots – YouTube

66 thoughts on “DIY Author Photo

  1. Your photo looks fantastic, Priscilla! I take horrible pics, so a friend took mine, and she struggled to find a usable one, lol. I’ve been needing to update mine, so if I decide to take the plunge, this is my reference. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Horror is my favorite genre because I love being able to be scared and being in control of that scare . . . I can always just close the book, and the vampire (ghost, mega-shark, ax murderer) goes away.

      There are SO many fabulous authors out there, but ones I’ve read recently and really enjoyed are Elizabeth Hand (Wylding Hall), Michael Barsa (The Garden of Blue Roses), Sarah Waters (The Little Stranger), Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House), and Andy Davidson (In the Valley of the Sun).

      Thanks for popping in.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Priscilla, I love your style. I’m on “stage two” for now with the illuminated letter “B” and Brangien’s name laid over a photo of the sea. Meara is a pseudonym, but one day I hope to reveal my real name with a photograph!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the advice. I’m still at the selfie I took after climbing to the top of a hill stage. Armed with this new information I may experiment for a more professional looking photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m late to the party here, but this is such a fantastic write-up! I wish I had done this a few years back when I was just starting out. Thank you for sharing this. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so sweet, thanks. Speaking of YOUR photo, I’ve always admired your statement necklace in your author photo. It fits your brand to a T. I’m glad you stopped by, Lena!


  5. Hi Priscilla. Your author photo looks great! Thanks for sharing your tips and as I’m due a new photo myself, it’s very timely. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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