This is the day I decide on my author pic. The (wonderful) photographer John Gruen sent over (digital) contacts this morning. He provided headshots with several different expressions and backgrounds, having posed me in different places when he came over on Sunday, eschewing backgrounds to avoid when writing while female: pink or Tiffany blue. Gardens. Gazebos. Now, I’m looking at 95 “raw” files which means once I make a choice, he’ll adjust settings for saturation and color, which used to require the services of a retoucher who charged double if you needed a press-ready photo overnight.
What background should I go with? Office? Window? Wall behind out-of-focus iron heat register?
And what expression?
I click onto Amazon (sorry) and call up pages of writers I admire. These are about equally split between women and men. Almost no one is smiling. Too late for that option. I’m smiling, at least slightly, in all of the pics. Some authors aren’t even looking into the camera! They’re gazing off to the side, staring intently at something out of the frame, as if to discern something indiscernible to the rest of us. One author (highly praised) frowns while sitting on a motorcycle. The only authors grinning directly, vulnerably into the camera are men with graying oh-to-be-taken-seriously temples. I happen upon only one wide-smiling woman writer from the bunch. She confronts the camera head-on, her expression sweet and un-ironic. It’s Sylvia Plath.