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On Vanity and/or Choosing an Author Photo

Now that my book is out there and I’m getting a sense of what it’s going to be like when it’s really out there and on shelves and in people’s hands and lost under the seats of airport terminals and things, I’ve grown increasingly more nervous about my author photo.

Dumb, I know.

Vain, I know.

But I also know that I’ve scrutinized the jacket photo of every memoir author I’ve ever read, trying to match up the author’s image with the one in my head, trying to match it up with all the images they are presenting of who they were at different times in their lives. In the case of my book, I’m going to have TWO photos on the jacket — the one of me at age 19 on the cover and the one of me now, on the back.

The cover photo is one that utterly captures the me that I spend a lot of time writing about in the book. I took the photo myself for the very purpose of trying to retain that image, possibly in the hopes of looking back one day to see a true contrast. The contrast being me now, a wife, a mother, a writer and therapist. Happy. Peaceful. Genuine.

Argh. That’s a tall order, huh? I’ve been stressing out about it all summer.

Anyway, I did a little photo session with my talented photographer cousin Ron in June on Cape Cod, but I was tired from a redeye flight and Veronica was screaming for me to hold her the whole time and I didn’t like my hair or makeup that much and on and on. Anyway, Ron and I reconvened this past weekend at his house in LA, sans Veronica and with more of a hair and makeup effort, and I think we were successful!

Let me know what you think. Here’s the final photo we chose. You can see a few of the other contenders here.















  1. Nailed it!

    Comment by Dave on September 20, 2011 at 9:00 am

  2. I think it looks perfect! :)

    Comment by Vanessa on September 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm

  3. This is the one! I love it. It really captures what you’re talking about, I think. Gorgeous!

    Comment by Suzanne Morrison on September 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

  4. Perfect! Can’t wait to see it on the back of your book!! :)

    Comment by Chris on September 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm

  5. Really like this but I love the one with the side ponytail against the white wall more. Use that one :)

    Comment by Aeshna on September 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm

  6. Pensive, serious, and beautiful. A perfect author photo for your book!

    Comment by Wendy on September 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

  7. Love it, Claire!

    Comment by Sheri Mossi on September 22, 2011 at 7:28 am

  8. Thanks, Sheri!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on September 22, 2011 at 8:23 am

  9. Yes, Aeshna, the side ponytail one was a serious contender. I’m sure it will show up in lots of places, if not the book jacket. Thanks for weighing in!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on September 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

  10. Thanks, Suzanne! Did you go through this too?

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on September 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

  11. Ha…thanks, Dave!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on September 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

  12. Oh yeah. I really sweated the whole headshot process. Actually, come to think of it, I think I sweated *every* process along the road to publication. But the author photo is hard– so much is wrapped up in it. I think you’ve got a perfect one here!

    Comment by Suzanne Morrison on September 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

  13. Thanks, Suzanne! Can’t wait to see you when you come through on book tour!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on September 28, 2011 at 7:23 am

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