Category Archives: Photography

Author Photos: How to Signal Your Tribe

Author Photo Kim StaflundAuthor Photo Kim Staflund

Author Photo Kim Staflund

Author photos make as powerful a statement about a writer as a book cover makes about the story inside. As such, your author photo should always be given as much care and consideration as the rest of your book.

I recently came across an article by Tucker Max that resonated with me. He comes across quite critical in this article (which is the norm for him), but he says one thing really well throughout the entire piece: your author photo is an important way of “signalling your tribe.” Better yet, he shows examples of what exactly this means.

Years ago, author photos only appeared in these three places: on the back cover of a book; inside the back matter of the book’s interior; or on a publisher’s press release. Nowadays, you can take full advantage of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to promote yourself and your books. You may also choose to write a personal blog or create a video of yourself on YouTube.

There are many ways for you to promote yourself online now. And there are just as many types of professional photographers and videographers to help you put your best face forward.

Author Photos on Book Covers

The front or back cover of a book is a great place to put an author photo. It can be a simple headshot or full-length portrait, depending on the writer’s preference. And this is a great place to get creative. A professional photographer knows how to use either colour or black and white to depict the mood of the book within the author photo. To make the picture even more attractive to readers, writers can dress themselves up as a character from inside their books or create the setting of the book within the background of the picture.

Author Photos on Social Networking Sites

Facebook not only helps you to keep in touch with personal friends and family members. It can also be used as a business networking tool much like LinkedIn. Both are great places to post an author photo as your profile picture for added exposure.

That said, you should be careful about the types of photographs you’re posting on these public sites. If the author photo on the back of your book is provocative or risqué in any way, it’s wise to leave that one to the back of the book and have a second, more conservative photo done specifically for these social networking sites. This is especially important if you only write part-time and currently work in a professional office setting. Today’s employers often “Google” prospective and current employees before deciding whether to hire or promote them.

Author Photos on Personal Blogs

You can also use your blog to promote yourself, your work, and your books. The primary reason why blogging is so important is search engine optimization (SEO), which means to improve (optimize) your ranking on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. When your prospective readers visit your blog, a great author photo can keep them interested in sticking around a little longer to click through and read more of your posts.

Author Video Readings on YouTube

YouTube is a great place to post an author video reading that will be available to a worldwide audience within a matter of minutes. You can even share a link to this video with all your readers via email, social networking sites, or your personal blog.

Never before has it been easier to reach such a broad audience so quickly—and at such an affordable cost! This makes it all the more important for you to put your best face forward with professional-quality author photos.

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Post Cards from a Heart-Centred Photographer

Debbie Flynn of Click the photo to visit her website.

Why is your author photo so important for your book?

Isn’t the content the reason the reader is looking at your book? Yes, absolutely.

And what if there is another important aspect to your book? An aspect that is a visual process the reader actually uses to take in your book because we are highly visual creatures. So much so that ninety percent of the information we take in is visual.

Visually, when the reader comes to your book they are first going to see the cover and the next important visual will be your photo.

It goes even deeper. The reader is actually longing to connect with you through your photo even in that brief moment. They want to know you and what better way to do it visually than through a photo of you. All you have to consider is the impact social media has had because we are highly curious about one another. For writers Facebook even has an author Facebook page. The reader can connect with their favourite author and learn about upcoming projects and even what their day looks like. 

Which brings us back to your photo – the one that reflects your true essence and what you’re passionate about as a writer. Or does it? Wouldn’t you love to be portrayed this way?

I was out of town attending a workshop for healers. A woman I knew came up to me to ask if I could photograph her sometime during the weekend because she needed a photo right away for her forthcoming book and she wanted what I could offer. We found the time and her photography session was unlike any previous experience. During the session I encouraged her to remember her passion for what her book was about. The book was about her personal struggles and ultimate triumph. She was writing it to help other indigenous women. We created a safe environment for her to be able to do this in. It was an easy and playful session. She shared with me that the final photos lit her up every time she looked at them because they brought out her best and showed her passion. She was proud to use them.

So how do you have a session like this?

The following tips will help you to bring more passion and aliveness to your author photo.

1. Remember why you wrote your book and the passion you felt about writing it.

Journal. Make some notes to be able to refer to and re-ignite yourself regularly before the photo session.

2. Research photographers in your area.

Who do you feel good about and are drawn to use? It’s a personal decision and one that needs your heart’s attention. It is about being portrayed as who you truly are.

3. Interview the photographer.

Are they truly interested in you? Will you be yourself when you work with them? Is there space for the session such as time and an environment that allows you to be comfortable? Interviewing prospective photographers is worth it when you understand the benefits. Hire the photographer who is right for you.  

4. Prepare for the session inwardly before you go.

Remember why you wrote your book and refer to the notes you’ve been keeping. The photographer may not be able to help you express yourself from an inner place. It’s not how photographers are trained. Take time with your appearance to feel good about the way you look. This allows you to relax and to be comfortable enough to go inner.

5. During the session keep coming back to your passion for writing.

Give yourself permission to do this.

If you follow the tips above your photos will make you happy. They will act as an on-going witness of who you are and what you bring to the world.

And the first impression your photo has on readers will be authentic and compelling which will become the most lasting impression they have of you. 

The Flow of the Heart

A beautiful song arises only

when the singer forgets herself and the audience.

A deeply moving painting emerges only

when the artist forgets himself and everything 

else in the world. 

For your talents to be expressed in all their 

fullness and beauty,

the sense of otherness must disappear entirely –

or it will block the flow of your heart. 

~ Amma


After my marriage ended and I became a single mom I didn’t know where to turn.

Guidance came in the form of a photojournalist. She was photographing the kids at the family centre where my son and I were swimming. It was obvious how much she enjoyed her job working for a daily paper. We had a rich conversation about what she did. Her happiness, brightness and gratitude came through as we spoke.

She became my inspiration. She helped to revive my love of photography. That conversation inspired me to go back to school and major in photojournalism. I received a Journalism Certificate from the local college.

I mentored with a well-established wedding photographer before opening my business eight years ago. Working with hundreds of clients has taught me how to create an easy, enjoyable experience for them with images that light them up. Over the years my clients have ranged from families and their life events to executives, entrepreneurs and artists.

My nature photographs were published in a best-selling book called “Eco-yards.” It is one of a number of books and magazines who have published my photos. To see more of my landscape, nature and wildlife photography please go to

For two years I exhibited my work at galleries as part of a professional women’s photography collective “femme foto” in Calgary, Alberta.

Professional organizations I have belonged to include: The PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada) and PPOA (Professional Photographers of Alberta). I attend many photography conferences. To improve my publication skills I completed a multi-media computer certificate.

A Little More About Debbie

Well, as this was happening I started on a heart-centred spiritual path. From my studies I understood our lives have a purpose . . . a mission that we’re meant to do. My mission is to bring more love and beauty to the world through the people and nature I photograph. When I hike in the mountains and close to the ocean it reminds me of how important nature is for our well-being.

There have been obstacles along the way. Through heart-centred energy training I’ve learned how to transform obstacles into what my heart truly wants. The training skills included how to deeply listen, quick, easy tools to move through obstacles and specific work to bring more harmony to my inner world. As a healing practitioner I’ve brought these skills to help many people move through their own limitations into becoming more of who they want to be.

Now I bring this experience to photography clients in the form of encouragement and attentive listening as we talk about their passion. From this place they can express what they deeply care about. And I’m able and fortunate to be able to portray it.

You know what else I love doing – dancing. I will put on a favourite tune and get movin’ whether it’s in the living room in bare feet or having a dance in my chair in my office. Try having a little chair dance sometime it will make you feel good.

Who gets you dancing?

© Debbie Flynn 2017