Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Reflections on a Photo Shoot: Part 2

If you're thinking of reinventing yourself online and want to do a photo shoot, start off with a list of objectives. Mine were:
1) To replace an old black and white photo with warm current pictures in color.
2) To replace a brooding, distant persona with a friendlier, more open image--to lead readers gently into the sometimes violent novels I write.
3) To come up with a half-dozen shots that could be used in different places: FaceBook, Twitter, Goodreads, my blog, Amazon's Author page and my email avatar.
4) To channel the rugged presence of my character Boss MacTavin while avoiding all the usual posturing some male writers do for their photos. No raised fists, no scowling. Somehow, instead, a subtle sense of energy.

You'll want to consider location, your appearance and even possible poses. I did. But the day before the shoot, I did something thoughtful that did a good deal more to alter the course of the shoot.

The first genie in the bottle
I had to work the night before, from 10 pm. till 7:30 a.m. I'd told the photographer, Paul Cotter, that I'd have to do the shoot in the afternoon so that I could catch some sleep. But then I began to think: he'd flown here 3000 miles, was doing me a favour and had other business to tend to. So I texted him and asked if he'd rather do the shoot right after I finished work.

Artist that he is, Paul jumped at the chance--because the lighting would be better. Was I certain I could hold up for an hour? I assured him I could...though I wasn't quite sure.

The second genie in the bottle
As I was heading for work, I did something bold. So bold that it shocked me. I'd worked out for over a year, doing up to 800 crunches a day. And I was in condition, at last, for a shirt-open scene that might lower some jaws. Or I might wear a tight t-shirt that showed off my biceps. But as I packed my gear before heading to work, I thought 'The hell with that.' I spotted an old Polo pullover I've always liked: loose fitting, black and white with a sort of royal crest. And I thought this would meet my objective of a friendlier, more open image. And I was heading out the door, I grabbed the massive walking stick I'd debated for years about using. Boss uses one, so I'd bring it--but the goal was to have it be with me in the most offhanded way.

The third genie in the bottle
So we came to the morning of the shoot itself. After work, exhausted, I rallied, changed to the Polo shirt, met Paul... then did something entirely forgetful. I'd had great plans for my hair, to spike it or do something funky with it. Yeah, that would be me there, with a Boss-style 'do. But nooooo....I forgot my hair completely. Ran my fingers through it now and then and proceeded get down to business.

The fourth genie in the bottle
Paul had picked our location carefully. To satisfy my wish for a sense of energy, and to pick up on the trains that figure in most of my books, he'd picked an isolated stretch of tracks. And he structured the shoot to include both his and my specific ideas. Of the 200 shots he took, four of the final six were inspired by this location.

The final genie in the bottle
We retired for coffee, me believing the session was over. But once again Paul had picked the location with infinite care. He'd chosen Amelie's, a favourite cafe of mine that I can't easily reach. A rare treat. Paul beamed--his favourite table was open! As we sat, he said that sometimes the perfect light streamed through the window. And I saw now that he'd brought along his camera. We sipped at our coffees. My head swam with thoughts of my impromptu 'dance with the stick' winding up on You Tube. Halfway through our coffees, the light coming in felt wonderfully warm and Paul raised his camera. These are the two final shots that you'll see. And please, friends, don't even ask about the dance with the stick!

Out of 200 photos these are the finalists:











6 comments:

Bill Kirton said...

You're right, Reb. It's important to get these things right. I must get round to it sometime. BTW, I like the look of the one on the left (in the cafe).

Jan Needle said...

mr putin does it topless. don't know how many books he sells, though...

cally phillips said...

Oh my word... no time for a full comment I'm afraid but just to say I like the sitting on the track one. I also like the top one (seen it before) and maybe a coffee one THOUGH it's a bit small for me to see just now as I'm having image problems on my computer (on MY COMPUTER - though maybe after reading this I have image problems as well!!!) So that's where my votes go for what it's worth.

Reb MacRath said...

Thanks, friends. I don't know about Putin, but Let Butts has joined the game with a new rascally photo on FB. If nothing else, take away the idea that the ideal photo shoot may consist of a small dose of poses that you want to try and a large dose of surrendering to the right photographer.

madwippitt said...

Ditto the coffee on the left one. The stick ones are a bit scary ...

Reb MacRath said...

Scary? A walking stick? Should I have walked a purple lobster on a leash like Baudelaire?