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Photo Botox for Author Photos
"Knock out debut" LA Times, Sara Weinman
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Unretouched me

First, there was Vaseline on the camera lens.
Next up was rose-colored lighting, shooting through pantyhose, and soft focus.
And then came Photoshop.

 No one tells the truth of course, so for the “me-too-ism” of writers everywhere, I will set aside my vanity and offer the unadulterated, unvarnished, unphotoshopped truth. These are the things I did to prepare for my author photo:

1) Googled ‘how to look good in photos’ and found advice. Very helpful advice.
2) Went for a professional make-up ‘consult’ (would that be tax deductible?)
3) Visited the ‘hair whisperer’ and told him, “Do what you will. Just don’t cut it                short.” Which he did. But I loved it. Price: Very high. Satisfaction: Priceless.

And don’t even ask about clothes. I bought and returned several boutique’s worth. I tried on every combination of outfit and accessory.

My sister Jill, a person for whom I never have to pretend, is a talented photographer and a super-talented sister.  To make the best author photo, she studied portrait-shooting technique, bought the talented Marion Ettinger’s book Author Photo for inspiration, and invested in equipment to make me glow (and look, ahem, less mature.)  

Jill did a wonderful job. She shot literally hundreds of photos, and we reviewed and eliminated, consulted and polled until we found ‘the one.’ Then she really went to work. With a stroke of her magic computer pen, lines disappear. Adjust the lighting: I warm up, I cool down. I flushed, I blushed, I smoldered.

How far could we go? I’d already applied make-up with the skill of Bobbi Brown herself.  Worn the pearl earrings that cast a glow on my face. Chosen the green shirt that matched my eyes.

Now I had to answer the question: is it Kosher to erase my lines? Would it be like using Botox? (Is it ok to use Botox? Is it less bad to use only Photoshop Botox?) After a second of agonized deliberation, I decided. Just a few minor…adjustments. The furrows between my brows came from worrying over my children, for goodness sake. Would softening those badges of motherhood make me a bad person? And what about those pesky forehead lines? The incipient puppet lines by my mouth?

Jill went to work. And I loved the final product. Perhaps too much.

What if my sister had made me look so good that no one would recognize me in real life?
A friend of mine, a lovely-looking woman whose book was about to be sold, vowed to have her picture taken sans artifice. So that no one would be surprised when they met her.

Since my book came out, people have recognized me when I came to do a reading. No one asked me what century the picture was taken.

Okay. There was one. (I did promise the truth, right?) The woman who gave me a facial, the one who stared at me under those glaring lights of truth – she asked when the picture was taken.

Maybe my friend had the right idea. Jill did such a good job with that photo. I worry:

Was it cheating to use Photoshop?

Here’s the before and after.

You be the judge.