Choosing a Website Photographer for Writers

February 25, 2012

When I decided to have professional photos taken for my website (, I asked around for recommendations from my writer friends, but their leads were not exactly what I wanted.  So I turned to the information highway.  I had hoped that a simple internet search would uncover a local photographer that specialized in author headshots, but that also had experience photographing dogs.  Yeah, well, that detailed of a specialty was a pipe dream.

I had better luck when I queried the broader terms of head shots, pet photographer and San Francisco Bay Area.  From this search, I narrowed my choices down to two very different options.  One was a traditional business and the other was a family boutique operation that either shot on location or in their home.  I soon discovered that the boutique family operation was shifting the focus of their photography business (RicKaraPhotography) to include web hosting and design (   I probably would have opted for the more personal experience of working with a less commercial business anyway, but this information, as well as Ric’s promise that if you weren’t 100% satisfied you didn’t pay, cinched the deal.

From the moment I walked in the door, I knew that Ric was more interested in producing a quality product than maximizing profit.  Ric discussed the type of look I wanted.  He took a few practice shots and we discussed the particulars that I liked and didn’t like in the shots.  As the three-hour session progressed, I was allowed as many outfit changes as I wanted.   At the end of the photo shoot, I had a variety of poses with and without my dog.

We wrapped up by reviewing the available background choices, but when I got the photos and compared it to my website pages, I didn’t like how my choice blended with the website.  Ric was very accommodating and indulged my request to plunk a variety of backgrounds behind a sample photo to aid a change of backgrounds.  He also accommodated by touch up requests.

Here are a few words of caution about choosing a photography service.  Make sure you will own the copyright to the photographs.  Have a clear understanding of what is included in the price.  You will need to decide if you want outdoor or indoor photos.  If you choose shooting indoors in a studio, you may have the choice of preselect backgrounds or shooting on a green screen.  I chose shooting against the green screen so I would have maximum flexibility in background choices.  While all of these options may be important considerations in selecting a photographer, I think the most important criterion is to pick someone you are comfortable working with.  RicKaraPhotography (  was the perfect fit for my needs.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the final results.




eBooks: Opportunity or Disaster?

February 8, 2012

Much has been written recently about the demise of the printed book industry.  That is exactly what it became – an industry.  I have heard so many stories from fellow writers who were screwed by the traditional publishing industry that the new paradigm of eBook publishing seems like a dream come true/  Is it, or is the slow, lingering death of the traditional publishing industry spell doom for authors?

First of all, writers will write until the end of time.  We do not write to become famous or rich, although a lucky few do.  We will not abandon writing merely because Harper Collins or Random House files for bankruptcy (they will eventually).  Discouraging as the collapse of the traditional publishing houses may be to consider, the link with writers and writing has been thin at best.

I have been encouraged by stories from my writing friends of the new simplicity of reaching an audience through e-publishing.  Many, many “middlemen” have been cut out of the decision loop.  Agents with stacks of manuscripts to their ceilings, publishing house acquisition editors who have never accepted unsolicited manuscripts (read: we want the author to be famous before we consider the book), distributors who return crates of books unsold to publishers because not enough copies were sold in their stores.

For every successful, NY Times Best Seller author, perhaps 100 hangers-on exist in their “food chain” – a chain that will surely die in the next 10-20 years.  Certainly, these best-selling authors are happy enough to support this food chain as long the royalties flow in.  But the pressure for them to produce another best-seller every six months to feed the beast is not conducive to a thoughtful, well-written novel.  This is the chain of “middle-men” that Amazon and other direct publishers seek to bypass, with resultant increased revenues to both the author and their bottom line.

Is this right?  Is it wrong?  Neither – it is just different. And consistent with emerging e-book and e-reader trends.  it in fact is a trend that will not reverse.  So, as emerging writers we should embrace this trend and not fight it.  I don’t know if we will reach our intended audience or not – I am not smart enough to have figured out a fail-safe method of e-book promotion and marketing yet.  But someone will, and if our writing quality is good enough and our themes, characterizations, and story lines are strong enough, we will succeed and will receive the necessary promotion, interest, and reward.

In the new publishing paradigm as in the old, it still boils down to the quality and enjoyment of the reading experience.  Write on!