I just finished a portrait session with mystery author, Elsa Hart. The images were produced as author photos for her upcoming, first novel. This genre of headshot has many variables that you might not at first consider. For instance, there are similarities for author photographs that are true for virtually all writing specialties (ie. romance writers smile playfully in theirs, while horror writers tend to look a little foreboding). What’s more, tastes tend to change dramatically through the years, with black and white images going in and out of style, and posing techniques ranging from highly apparent to nonexistent.
For Elsa’s portraits, we agreed to maintain a somewhat serious tone that compliments her genre of storytelling and provides her with a sense of authority. In this case, the lighting was simple, spanning from diffuse sunlight provided by an overcast sky to a single speedlight (bare or with a honeycomb filter) for when more contrast is needed. For lenses, I used only the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G or the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D. The images are simple, straightforward, and required very little direction on my behalf. It is daunting to imagine these photographs as some readers’ first introduction to the author, but I think that they accomplish exactly what our aims were.