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Author Photos Proposal

As some of you know, I’m a bit of a photography hobbyist — that is to say, very much not a professional. But it’s something I enjoy, and something I’d like to get better at.

It occurred to me as I was looking at my mostly-outdated press kit pics that authors need author photos.

Some authors pay professional photographers for their author photos, and that’s great. Others go through shots their friends have taken and try to find the best ones. And sometimes we just panic and snap a bunch of selfies and hope for the best, because the editor wants it right now and I can’t find anything and I’m panicking and why can’t I just send a picture of my cat instead?

Anyway, as an idea, what would you think of me offering to do photo sessions at future conventions for authors? I’m not sure exactly how this would work, but it would be good practice and experience for me, and I’d send the authors their pics and rights to use them however they need.

While I’m not a pro, I like to think I don’t completely suck. Here are some of the pics I’ve taken over the past couple of years that people seemed to like. (Keep in mind, these were generally snapped in the spur of the moment, so I didn’t always have time to move for better lighting or background and such.)

Wesley Chu

Wesley Chu

John Scalzi

John Scalzi, with Tor Ring

Terri LeBlanc and Ann Leckie

Terri LeBlanc and Ann Leckie

Michelle Clark

Michelle Clark

Tierany Seriflame.

Tierany Seriflame

Doselle Young

Doselle Young

Anthony Hendon

Anthony Hendon

What do you think? What are the downsides I’m missing? I figure I’d need to be clear up front that I can’t guarantee perfection. On the other hand, I can probably promise that you’ll get your money’s worth. Ideally, folks get decent photos they can use, and I get to have fun practicing and getting better at something I enjoy.

I figure I could either do it informally, with folks emailing me ahead of time to set something up at a convention, or else talk to the con about maybe getting an hour or two on the schedule to either shoot outside or in a program room or…well, it would probably be best to scout locations beforehand, to be honest.

Anyway, feedback welcome and appreciated.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 4th, 2016 07:07 pm (UTC)
John Scalzi, with Tor Ring

aha...Scalzi has The Ring!
May. 5th, 2016 02:00 am (UTC)
Is this like the Green Lantern ring?
May. 5th, 2016 02:07 am (UTC)
No, it's like that *other* ring, that belonged to the fellow with one eye ....
May. 5th, 2016 12:43 pm (UTC)
Pirate Sauron?
May. 7th, 2016 01:48 am (UTC)
Yes! Him!
May. 4th, 2016 07:43 pm (UTC)
This sounds like a very cool idea. I think scouting the location ahead of time would be good, as would scheduling a block of time on one day, so people can either schedule part of that block beforehand, or they know where to find you if they didn't know about it before arriving.

Other considerations might be the pricing; having some sort of contract (I'd leave in something that allows you to retain rights for posting the pictures as examples); and when finding a location, looking for one that have a variety of interests things, so you don't end up with a series of photos where everyone is standing in front of the same background.

I don't know if that's helpful. It's just what came to my mind, and I am also no professional.
May. 5th, 2016 02:26 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'd need a release form of some sort, giving them permission to use it and me permission to post/share stuff as part of portfolio.

I could set it up as a panel-length program item. Hm... definitely lots to think about.
May. 5th, 2016 12:24 pm (UTC)
There's all sorts of model release forms online that are easily tweaked, I can send you the one that I used for my portraiture class if you like. The gist of mine was that the subject acknowledges that they will receive no money or royalties from the shoot and that they're 18 or older or it also has to have the signature and permission of a legal guardian.

In your case, you put in that the subject receives the right to use the images for personal promotion work and that you have the right to publish them for personal promotion. You can put in a clause that there's no money changing hands if you need.

And you DEFINITELY want to scout outdoor areas before a shoot! You might inadvertently wander in to a No Photography zone and end up in a dispute with security guards and/or police.
May. 5th, 2016 06:04 pm (UTC)
Here are the terms I've come up with so far, cribbing from various online forms:

1. Photographer grants permission for Subject to use photographs of Subject for any and all purposes, including online display, publicity, advertising, and both personal and commercial use. Where posted publicly, photographs must credit Jim C. Hines as the photographer.

2. As the legal copyright holder, Photographer grants permission for Subject to copy and print photos without limitation or restriction.

3. Subject agrees that Photographer may use and display photographs he takes of them as part of Photographer’s portfolio, and for purposes such as publicity and advertising.

4. Photographer will not sell or license photographs of Subject to anyone else.
May. 8th, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC)
I think that's a pretty good set of clauses. Just don't include a Sanity Clause. Nothing but trouble can ensue from that, especially when you get to the Duck.
May. 4th, 2016 11:42 pm (UTC)
I think it sounds great!
May. 5th, 2016 02:10 am (UTC)
I think it's a terrific idea!
Also, if a con has a particular charity it raises money for, Get-your-picture-taken-by-Jim-Hines *could* be a nice fundraiser!
May. 5th, 2016 02:24 am (UTC)
I really like that idea!
May. 5th, 2016 04:01 am (UTC)
Heck, I'd donate for that and I don't need an author photo.
May. 5th, 2016 03:50 am (UTC)
While Im not a portrait photographer, I have done quite a few events - conferences, weddings ETC and done some headshots for my day job as well. Occasionally I get paid for my efforts too :)

Things to consider:

Lighting!!! Angle of light, colour of light, the impact of shadows, shiny foreheads

Backgrounds - yes scope out appropriate backgrounds and have it tonally either light or dark - your last image is a classic example as to how distracting it is to have both in the background

Processing - if you are going to get the best out of your image you should shoot in RAW and process it properly, a lot of your images suffer from indoor lighting white balance tonal shifts (white being grey or yellow or even green)

Creativity - well you are owning it there, the very narrow DOF on the ring image with Scalzi is brilliant, as are the fire and fancy light shots. Keep exploring your possibilities there - do some reading into light painting where you can have REAL fun - You will need a tripod and a camera that can do long exposures etc

Happy to discuss offline via email etc - you can see my work here if you are interested

May. 5th, 2016 06:01 pm (UTC)
I've started shooting in RAW for a year or so now, but white balance is definitely an area I need to work on. I've got a grey card on order that should hopefully help with calibration and such.

I love the stuff on your site, and will be going back to look more closely at your work, thanks!
May. 5th, 2016 03:52 am (UTC)

I think it would be a fantastic idea.

May. 5th, 2016 07:38 am (UTC)
And sometimes we just panic and snap a bunch of selfies and hope for the best, because the editor wants it right now and I can't find anything and I’m panicking and why can't I just send a picture of my cat instead?

Heh. That's me, and I'm not even an author. But I'm a panelist at SoonerCon, and they wanted a headshot, and it ended up being Russ taking a cellphone pic with me backed up against the kitchen door because it's a fairly plain background. I'd pay for you to take a better one!

Of the ones you posted, my favorites are Tierany Seriflame (WOW!) and Doselle Young (such wonderful kind eyes).
May. 5th, 2016 12:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I was really happy with how some of the fire pics turned out. That was at Radcon, and I was on the hotel balcony with the zoom lens, looking down into the courtyard where they were doing their thing. It was amazing to watch, and a lot of fun trying to figure out how to get the camera to work with it all :-)
May. 5th, 2016 06:39 pm (UTC)
Two thoughts, as a convention staffer:

(1) If you're going to be shooting any photos at our convention for which you're charging money, even as a charitable donation, I'd want to know ahead of time because all vendors need to pay us for space or work out a deal (like supplying us with photos for PR, or donating to the charity). Or even if you're not charging but setting up formal shots. We sometimes have photographers who pay for a table, or we work out a deal with them in exchange for supplying us photos, and they'd get rightfully angry if someone might be undercutting their business, not to mention that selling space to vendors is a large portion of our annual income. If you showed up without warning and, say, set up in the lobby and started shooting, we'd be coming over there saying "Um, this can't happen right now."

(2) That being said, you're a special case because there's a good chance you're there as an invited guest. We comp guests a table in the dealers' room or exhibitors' room if they ask for it to sell their wares, and I'd consider giving you a space to shoot, even if it's just a panel room for an hour, to be the equivalent of comping a table in the DR. If you're not there as an invited guest but as an attendee, you're enough of a name that *I* would then say "Well, can we call you a panelist in exchange for the space and time and publicize it?" :) YMMV at other cons.

(We actually had an occurrence one year where the hotel came to us a couple of weeks before the con and said "Someone called us and wants to know where he can put the photographer for an event being held at your convention? What is this event?" and we scrambled to figure out what was going on because we had no idea. Turns out it was a bit of a miscommunication between the hotel and an attendee, because he was planning to propose at the con and wanted to reserve a space in the lobby to ensure that their friends would be able to sit nearby and the photographer he'd booked could get shots of the proposal. That was A-OK with us as it was a private event and not undercutting our vendors--and the hotel was not going to charge *us* for using that space!--but the message here is: tell your con staff if you're going to do *anything* that might affect them, so they don't panic trying to figure out what's what!)

Edited at 2016-05-05 06:41 pm (UTC)
May. 5th, 2016 06:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this. If I was charging money or doing anything for charity, I'd definitely talk to the convention ahead of time. The only time I might have considered not talking to the con first would be if it was just an author saying, "Hey, let's get together outside and shoot a few quick pics," or something like that - quick and informal. But based on what you're saying, which makes sense, it sounds like I'd be better off clearing it with folks ahead of time regardless.

I'm thinking about trying this at ICON in the fall, and will definitely talk to constaff beforehand to work out the details and make sure I'm not stepping on anyone's toes.

Thanks again!
May. 5th, 2016 06:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, clearing it first, even if it's informal practice outside, will stop problems with rumors going around and getting exaggerated and someone storming up to con staff saying "Hey, what's this about Jim Hines being your photographer?! I thought I was!" and us going "Meep?"

(aaaahhh, I've been a staff head for 15 years at our con and witnessed a lot of miscommunication and problems so tend to the "better safe than sorry" side!)
May. 5th, 2016 07:02 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. And with everything the volunteers are trying to juggle and keep track of, the last thing I want to do is add another headache to the mix.
May. 5th, 2016 08:07 pm (UTC)
Those are good. =)
May. 7th, 2016 08:17 am (UTC)
Very nice photos, Jim! :-)

The one of Wesley Chu is hilarious. X

My thoughts on seeing John Scalzi wearing the ring:

Lord of the Rings reference? Or is he a Planateer trying to summon Captain Planet? You decide! :D
May. 7th, 2016 01:51 pm (UTC)
I was thinking Green Lantern power ring, but both of those references work just as well :-)
May. 8th, 2016 03:57 am (UTC)
Doselle Young's photo is fabulous! It's flattering and makes him look like an interesting human being...which might translate to writer of interesting things. That is the type of photo which might actually tip the balance and get me to start a book I was on the fence about, which I don't think an author's photo has ever done.

Having said that, I now think that every author photo should involve a ring of fire.
May. 8th, 2016 02:37 pm (UTC)
I agree completely, but the hotels and conventions might get a little upset with me if I started setting things on fire for photo shoots...
May. 8th, 2016 07:50 pm (UTC)
What's the worst that could happen?
This seems to be a situation which falls under, "Easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." ;-)
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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