Friday 8 August 2014

Diary of a Photoshoot

Oh, the trauma!

New novel due out in November. Publisher requested publicity shots. I don't know any author who enjoys this. We are writers because we like to remain behind the screen. I love taking photographs, I hate being in them.

That wasn't always the case, as my friend's daughter Zuba keeps reminding me whenever I have a camera in my hand. It's like this Dove advert.

I read Stephen King at an early age.

Anyway, however you feel about it, you do need publicity shots. I have a couple which my cousin took a few years back. I'll always remember her artistic direction: "Could you try to look a little less pissed off?"

This time, I decided to find a local Rwandan photographer. I put out an advert, had a few replies, and chose to go with Alice Kayibanda. This was her first time taking publicity shots, but she's passionate about photography, and I really liked her other work.

She doubles as a social media manager for UNHCR, and we had to postpone for a while as she was out in the field doing things that were undeniably more important than taking pictures of me.

Finally, we scheduled a shoot for today. I was a bit of a wreck, nervously fidgeting whilst watching the clock. And I am not usually a nervous fidgeter.

Step one: Get your foundation on.

Step two: Get your props ready.

In warm climates, powder is your best friend.

Step three: Get attitude! (AKA grow some balls.)

Eyeliner really helps with this.

Step four: Don't be ashamed of visiting selfie central. Practise that pout!

Step five: Hide when the doorbell rings. 

Alice was absolutely spectacular with me. Completely put me at ease. We had a good laugh, and I'm very much looking forward to getting the results back. I've just moved into a very spacious house up near the airport. It's full of light and neutral backgrounds. We took office shots, sofa shots, chair shots, garden step shots, porch shots, living room shots. Mostly serious shots, some creative, and some downright silly.

Location, location, location.

It was all good fun. I'll update this post in a few days with a couple of pics, so check back. 

Publishers like to have a stock of pictures for things like events, articles, cover sleeves, social media. It's nice that Alice's name will appear with them, both in print and online.

It's also nice that I get to look through and choose the ones I'm comfortable with before handing them over to my publisher. Alice asked me why I don't like having my photo taken, but I think - especially with publicity shots - it's the permanent, immutable nature of the thing. Once it's out there, in print, it's irretractable. Plus, it's like voice recordings: you never sound, or look, the way you think you do. Especially with authors, there's a certain image to project. I might be sitting here in leggings and a floral dress at the moment, but that certainly isn't the image that fits the type of books I write.

Anyway, it's over now. I can safely crawl back behind the screen and start thinking about what to write next.

Solidarity, fellow writers. It happens to us all eventually. Grin (our pout) and bear it.

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