Your Author Photo: How To Dress For Success | Web Design Relief

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Your Author Photo: How To Dress For Success | Web Design Relief

If you write short stories or poetry or books that you hope to publish, it’s a good idea to have an author photo ready. An author head shot or photo can be used on your author website, your book’s back cover, or with your bio info in a literary journal. The design experts at Web Design Relief know you don’t have to hire a professional photographer (although you certainly can if you want to!)—you can ask a talented friend to take your photo. And if you want something very informal, you can even take a selfie! But whether you go with a formal head shot or a more casual author photo, it’s important to dress for success! Here are some tips for what you should (and shouldn’t) wear in your author photo.

What To Wear In Your Author Photo

Flattering clothing: When choosing what to wear for your photo shoot, you’ll find that solid colors will look best. But keep in mind that monochromatic black or white clothing may also present problems: White can blow out, and black can lose definition and disappear. Pastels and faded colors may blend in with the background and make you look washed out. And big patterns should be avoided, since they can draw attention away from your face. Smaller prints may be easier on the eyes of your author website visitors.

Wear no more than two layers, such as a shirt with a jacket or cardigan. Too many layers will make your photo too busy. A nice pair of jeans or khakis matched with an open collar shirt under a jacket or cardigan will look neat and approachable. Don’t wear anything too trendy, because your photo may quickly look dated. You should also avoid clothing with prominent brand logos: If the brand ends up in a scandal, you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire!

Good hair: Your hair should be neat and styled simply—keep hair ornaments to a minimum. Test any hairstyles in advance to ensure you like the look. This is not the time to try a new haircut or color that you might later regret! If you have long hair, you can wear it down so it can move as your photographer tries out different poses and angles.

Few accessories, if any: One to three pieces of jewelry is all you need to make your photo pop! Unless your author brand or personality is big and bold, keep your choices understated—big statement pieces can easily distract viewers. The same goes for hats or scarves: If you want to wear one, try a few shots with and without.

Makeup with a natural look often works best in photos, so avoid wearing any makeup that shimmers, sparkles, or shines.

If you wear eyeglasses, have your photographer take a few photos of you with and without them. Glare from the lenses can be edited out by professional photographers, so if eyeglasses are part of your signature look, keep them on.

Bonus tip: You don’t “wear” the background, but it’s still an important element of your author photo! Consider using a plain or neutral background: Black, white, or gray backdrops are simple and work well for classic author photos. An outdoor background offers a more relaxed, casual setting and will make you seem more friendly and sociable. Just make sure there aren’t any other people or unexpected visuals in the outdoor setting—you don’t want an unfortunate photobomb or a lamppost growing out of your head!

With these tips, whether you’re wearing a suit in front of a neutral background or jeans and a T-shirt in front of a brick wall, you’ll be dressed for success and look great in your author photo!


Question: What would you wear in your author photo?


  1. Rhiannon

    A Top Hat.

    • Mary Ann

      Tres chic with the bikini!

  2. Merri

    I would wear what I write in, jeans and a T-shirt. I’m comfortable and casual, dressing up wouldn’t be me and I wouldn’t be as confident in my picture.


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