Should You Invest in a New Head Shot?

Throughout my 15-year freelance writing career, most of my head shots have been amateurish looking self-portraits in which beach towels and assorted other things had to be Photoshopped out in order to at least give the appearance that I’m a professional. The photos weren’t horrible, but they definitely could have been better. However, on a writer’s budget, I just couldn’t justify making the financial investment. Other than for use on Twitter or Facebook or WordPress, there really wasn’t any call for me to present myself as a journalist through a photo. We’re not real estate agents, after all; usually, a byline is sufficient.

That all changed when I became a fiction writer. My head shot would go into my debut novel, would be linked to it forever. Thoughts of an image slightly out of focus, of awkward poses and overlooked beach towel bits went dancing through my head. Egads! Yes, it was time to get a professional shot.

So, yesterday, after doing a no-rain dance, I trekked into Manhattan, careful not to frizz or sweat myself up, and had a professional head shot taken by the wonderful Mark Bennington:

Should you invest in a professional head shot? That decision is certainly up to you and your wallet. For me, it was important for Baby Grand to feature a professional and smart looking photo, a photo I would be proud of, just as I’m proud of my book itself. For me, the head shot is reflective of the care and effort I have put into my book, no different from the book cover or the title or the writing.

Will your book sell fewer copies if you don’t have a professional head shot? Who knows. Probably not? Maybe yes? All I know is I want every aspect of this book to be consistent in its presentation, and the author’s head shot — beach towel-free — is part of that.


7 thoughts on “Should You Invest in a New Head Shot?

  1. Your new headshot is fabulous. And the answer is YES. Everyone in business needs to represent themselves in the best light possible. And for those who can’t afford a photography session, do what I did and volunteer for a makeover somewhere. I got my makeup, hair and highlights done for free, and had my photograph taken by an amazing magazine fashion photographer!

    • Jill Hennessy? That is too funny. One person told me that a long, long time ago — in fact, he was the only one until you :) — but I don’t see the resemblance. Maybe if I reduced it to a thumbnail… LOL! Thanks for commenting, Olivia!

  2. Great photo, Dina. I agree, when you reach a place where your photo is going to be linked with your career it should be as professionally done as possible. I’m not overly photogenic and prefer to be on the other end of the lens anyway, so if and when the time comes that I need a good shot I’ll likely resort to a professional photographer, too. In her last blog post Laura Best was also talking about her bio photo… the challenges of getting a new one taken for her second book. She’s enlisted the aid of her “longsuffering” husband but I don’t think I could go that route. Mine is a pretty fair photographer, but I doubt he’d be *that* longsuffering! LOL!

  3. I’m planning on getting a head shot soon. I’m going to school full time in August and I’m wondering if I couldn’t get a college student to do it a little cheaper than a professional. I did my current photo with my camera and timer. I’m a little anal about background items. Right before I took my current picture my dad placed his phone on the shelf behind me, which irks me.

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