Some people seem to have been born in front of a camera. In every photograph, they look flawless. Perfect smiles. Hair never out of place. An illustrated dictionary would include a shot of them under the entry for photogenic.
If I adopt a serious pose, I look like a serial killer. And unless I’m flat out laughing, my tortured grin conjures images of a hostage told to smile despite the gun sticking in his back.
On a photogenic scale of zero to ten, I’m somewhere above absolute zero but it’s a pretty small fractional number. And if my wife is taking the picture, I lose even that fractional number. I adore the woman, but you might say that she’s the Mr. Magoo of photography. If she’s taking a headshot and actually gets the entire head in the picture, it’s close to a miracle.
So when Mark Harding, editor of Music for Another Land (which will include my short story “Blue Note Heaven”), wrote asking for a headshot for the ebook version of the anthology, I winced.
I dutifully borrowed my daughter’s digital camera and tried the combo from Hell: my wife, the world’s most incompetent photographer, and me, the world’s worst subject.
The following wasn’t the worst shot; it was a typical one.
After one look at these results, my daughter rode in to the rescue. We met for dinner and she took a couple dozen shots, a few of the serious author look — a.k.a. Dave the Serial Killer — before coaxing me to laugh if that’s what it took to get rid of Dave the Tortured Hostage.
I was left with a choice between “Serial Killer” and what I came to think of as “The Big Goofy.” Surely I couldn’t go with the latter. Authors are supposed to be dignified and serious, aren’t they? I’d need to go with a shot like this:
Then I began looking at other author headshots and, no offense to my betters, but a lot my partners in crime also looked like serial killers.
Which got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing). I’m a very happy person. Not every minute of every day, but I wish I had a dollar for every time I turned to my wife and said, “Isn’t life great? I’m living a charmed life.”
I’m really a smiling kind of guy.
I also enjoyed writing “Blue Note Heaven.” Not every minute of it, of course. There were those inevitable slam-your-head-against-the-wall moments, but I liked writing it and I’m proud of the result.
And I’m delighted that Mark Harding is publishing the story in his anthology. It looks like a winner.
So why should I look author-serial-killer serious? Shouldn’t I look happy?
Of course I should.
So when an e-book reader of “Blue Note Heaven” sees my photograph, they’re going to get “The Big Goofy.” I hope they look at it and say, “He’s having fun.”