Anything done well looks easy. This includes author portraits. You’ve no doubt seen ones you like and while they might appear easy to replicate, looks can be deceiving. How many times have you wondered why your cake looks different to the one in the cookbook?
I’ve taken many portraits during my 25+ year career as a photographer and it’s now like water off a duck’s back for me. However, sometimes I listen to myself giving instructions to my subject – “turn your head a bit to the left … too far … back to the right … now straighten it and drop your chin …” – and there is a lot happening.
While some authors have their portraits done professionally, you don’t need to go to the expense. You also don’t need a ‘fancy’ camera. A smartphone will give you a good result.
Here are a few tips:
These are a few practical tips. There are many more, but this should help. The best thing is to use what’s written here and and take lots of photos, trying different things. In this digital age, the amount of photos you can take is virtually limitless.
Another thing that will help is to think of photos – including author portraits – as visual stories. I used this message with great success when explaining photos to ABC reporters during my nine years as national photo editor with ABC News Online. The reporters loved that fact I translated photography into a universal language, by showing how photos and written stories are structured the same.
As writers, this should make sense to you, as some of the parallels include using exciting (visual) langauge, including the necessary information, finding an angle, avoiding messy copy … the list goes on and on. The main thing is to think of photos as stories in their own right, and not separate ‘things’.
The presentation I gave to reporters is now my latest book. Its unique approach to photography gets people thinking about photos as visual stories and will help you understand why photos look the way they do. Remember, anything done well looks easy.♦
Giulio Saggin has been a news photographer since 1989 and has worked in Australia and the UK. He was also national photo editor with ABC News Online from 2007 until June 2016. He has published three books: You, The Citizen Photographer: Telling Visual Stories, Deep Fried Pizza and …so I did. You can read more about Giulio’s work at www.youthecitizenphotographer.blogspot.com.au or www.photos.giuliophotography.com.au.
Published February 10, 2017
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