10 tips to take your own author headshot

10 tips for an author headshot to look good for your readers.

how to take author headshot

There are three things a publisher is going to need from you when you're having a book published: an author bio, a blurb and an author headshot. As much as readers love to read your words, they're also going to be curious about what you look like, and your author photo can say something about you.

I looked into having a professional take my author photo, but I've had a couple of photographs taken by local newspaper photographers and I find that I can't relax in front of strangers. I found the experience to be on the extreme side of awkward.

Luckily, I came across a fabulous blog by Liz Morrow ... she's a fashion, food, design, lifestyle blogger and she takes lots of photos of herself in different outfits and she shared how she does it with a tripod and self-timer. She inspired me to take my own shots.

Best tips for taking your own author headshot:

1. Use a tripod or prop your phone up on something sturdy.

2. Set the timer to either 3 or 10 seconds so that you have time to get into position.

3. Stand or sit in front of a plain background or somewhere neat that says something about you (your writing desk, bookshelf etc). Make sure you're in a good soft light ... photography is all about finding the right light!

4. Try a few different outfits and hairstyles and think about how you want to present yourself. Do you want to be serious and literary? Quirky and fun? 

Try out different expressions. Do you want to smile with teeth or no teeth? I often think about artist Hazel Dooney's Ten Dicta for Young Women Who Are Artists - 'don't smile for photographs just because it's expected'.

how to take own author headshot

5. Do some silly shots to loosen up!

6. Learn which angle works best for you. They say to turn your face away from the camera and then to look back at it with your eyes. Try not to look face on at the camera.

7. Take lots and lots of photos. It's probably right at the point when you're about to give up and feel like smashing the smartphone that you'll start to get some good shots!


Pro tip:
Need help with the structure of your novel? I swear by Scrivener - software to help authors manage the structure of their novel. Scrivener helps you move whole chapters with a simple drag and drop and you can also get a birds-eye view of each chapter in the manuscript - to help you write the synopsis and easily see what needs to be further developed. Check out Scrivener today!


8. Be discerning about which photographs you choose. Just like when you're writing, sometimes you have to kill your darlings - if something is not quite right in the photo, delete it! Shortlist your favourite photos. Then edit down again. Leave it for a few hours and come back and look with fresh eyes. You can use other favourite shots for guest blog posts, media requests, Instagram, Twitter etc

9. Experiment with retouching in image software - you can easily remove blemishes or spots you don't want in the background. I've even used a photo retoucher on Fiverr to remove bags from under my eyes. It only cost something like $7 for them to touchup my least favourite thing about my face.

10. Enjoy it! You get to be the photographer and the subject. And there's probably no one you'd be more comfortable with to get the kind of author headshot you're looking for!


Scrivener: By writers, for writers.

Scrivener is the best book writing software. I first heard about Scrivener from 'We Were Liars' author E. Lockhart - she swears by it!

Scrivener helps authors move whole chapters with a simple drag and drop. You can also get a birds-eye view of each chapter in the manuscript on digital index cards!

Check out Scrivener today! Download a free trial, or purchase for one payment of $77 (no ongoing subscription fees!)


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