What makes a good author photo? Or a bad one? That, I guess, is what Salt authors are currently asking themselves after comments from Salt that perhaps more guidance was needed for some people (without specifying anyone in particular!).
I submitted my photos a while back. They were taken by Gerry Cambridge. We spent hours taking hundreds of shots over two afternoons, from which we extracted six photos. I liked them a lot, but today I came across this, also from Salt:
"Our guidance specifies landscape format shots, as in wider than tall, some interpret this as photo in a landscape and head out to their nearest leafy landmark!"
Damn, I hadn’t picked that up at all but, to my relief, four out the six are in landscape format. They are all in black & white. One of them is of me crouching in a huge bed of dead leaves. Behind me is a stained wall. To my left, also in the leaves, there’s a large cracked urn toppled on its side (very Keatsian). I am reading a book called Dawkins’ God. It was Gerry’s concept and it’s a poem-as-photograph in itself. Whether it qualifies as a “leafy landmark,” I’m not sure. It’s in a church graveyard, which is, I suppose, a landmark of sorts, but the leaves are all dead and brown.
I don’t like being photographed. In fact, I am the world’s worst person to take for a photo shoot. I can remember my parents hiring a photographer to take pics of me as a child and he got only one forced smile out of me in the entire hour. Gerry did a great job in that regard. I do actually smile in a couple of the six.
One of the photos, the only close-up, makes me look as solemn and intense as Geoffrey Hill’s author pic (well, almost). I actually quite like it because of that. It’s humorous in its po-faced stare. One of the others has me grinning beneath a stone skull. So a range of moods. The idea was to go for an edgy, alternative vibe with a touch of black humour, but in a place of depth and tradition (hence the churchyard).
My Salt author page isn’t up yet, but when it is I’ll let you know. You can always gaze at Andrew Philip there in the meantime. Looks like a leafy landmark to me! Our books both launch on March 1st.