Photographer with benefits

So I’ve been giving this whole self-promotion concept a lot of thought. And I’ve come to a few conclusions.

1. I am not comfortable with a camera pointed at me. I never have been, which is why there are 50,000 (precisely, I’ve counted) photographs of me at various awkward stages of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood glaring at the camera. (Or, actually, the person holding the camera.) I love photography, enjoy dreaming up concepts for photo shoots and helping to make them happen … did I mention that I once art directed an engagement photo shoot in which the couple was sitting on a unicorn at sunrise for New Times‘ Brides issue? So yeah, the photography bug has taken a nibble or two; I’m just more comfortable when someone else is the subject.

2. I’m easily bored and I feel like I’ve seen the same author photograph again and again. You know, the one in which the writer is sitting in a chair, facing the viewer, maybe with their hand under their chin, looking sexy and mysterious and wildly intellectual? You don’t. Because you’ve seen the photograph of the writer sitting in a chair, but rarely does this come across as anything other than passively engaging, at best. Considering the fact that the writers I know are strange, bizarre, whimsical, imaginative people, I can’t understand why we represent ourselves to the reading public as the woman with curly hair or the guy with glasses sitting in a chair. Unless it’s one hell of a chair. I mean, we’re not talking school photo level awkward, but we’re not talking about anything brilliant either. Not even close.

Maybe the problem is that we’ve all seen too many photographs of anorexic nymphs posing awkwardly in fashion magazines. Or we want so badly to be part of the Serious Author Club that we emulate the stuff we’ve seen serious authors do. We’re so tentative and fearful that we won’t find a publisher, or we won’t be respected by readers that we just plop right down on the first chair we see and try to gaze soulfully at the camera. And who can blame them? I’ve heard the lunch buffet at the Serious Author Club is second to none; I’ve heard there’s deep fried Cocoa Puffs and butterbeer. But I’m not sold. Maybe it’s because I know I can make my own deep fried Cocoa Puffs and butterbeer (by the way, if you happen to have a recipe for the latter, please send it my way). Or maybe it’s because I believe writers should have the courage to forge their own paths, let your grass grow taller than your Homeowners’ Association says you should, leave a flaming bag of crap on the front doorstep of your Homeowners’ Association president (but if you do, don’t tell her/him that you got the idea from me).

All this is a very roundabout way of introducing the promotional photo my boyfriend, Colin Rigley, helped create for me. When he offered to take some promotional photos, I stipulated that I wanted something imaginative and unlikely–which I think is fitting an author whose debut work is a young adult fantasy novel–and this is what we came up with. The photo shoot itself involved jumping on the trampoline in our backyard for more than an hour, which is exhausting and fun, except when you throw in the fact that I was trying to keep a straight face, arch my feet, angle my body, somehow convince my face to stop making weird jumping on a trampoline expressions, and maneuver an umbrella. Luckily, it didn’t leave a lot of time for me to go into obnoxious zombie girl mode (am I fat? am I sweating too much? blah, blah, blah).

I have to say, all of the effort was absolutely worth it. Do I look like Kate Moss or Tyra Banks? Absolutely not. But I look like myself–a nerdy girl who wears glasses and doesn’t touch makeup unless the word “prom” is involved and my friends pressure me into it. A girl who has dozens of costumes and props for photo shoots, but never wears them herself because she’s more comfortable hustling behind the scenes to make a photo shoot happen. Crap, did I just slip into third person there a little? Apparently this whole promotional photo thing is going to my head. And I get to play out a fantasy scenario in which the heavens literally dump books into the laps, and onto an unfortunate head or two, of eager readers. Maybe you’ll recognize a title or two:






    Love the photo! Don’t have a recipe for butterbeer, but here is a recipe for butteebeer cupcakes that I’ve been wanting to try.

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