My Author Photo (by Emily Whitman)

This is my favorite picture of me with a book. My mother took it, of course. She loved taking pictures of us. We all grew up looking into the double lenses of a Rolleiflex camera, following instructions: "Turn your body to the side. Now look at me. Tilt your head at a 45 degree angle. Open mouth smile. Closed mouth smile." These weren't snapshots; they were portraits. Though I think my mother just got lucky with this picture. I wasn't all that obedient when I was little. I was known for things like decorating the living room with ashes from the fireplace.

Take a look at a Rolleiflex and you'll see why portraits felt like an event.

(By the way, that book is the complete works of Edward Lear, who wrote much more than limericks. It's open to a picture of Foss the Cat. I've still got that book on my shelf.)

But what does this have to do with author pictures? Everything! Because who else would I turn to when it's time to choose an author picture?

My mother took this photo a few years ago when my first book, Radiant Darkness, was close to publication. I was visiting back home in Boulder, Colorado. This is in my parents' garden. As you can see, my mother is quite the gardener. And since Radiant Darkness is a retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone, and it starts in the Vale of Enna--a goddess's garden, as full of blooms and fruits as you could find--what better place to take this picture?

(Note the body turned a bit sideways, the slight tilt of the head, in classic family portrait style.)

That's still my official author photo. Unofficially, here's the photo I like best from my time working on my second novel, Wildwing. This is from my favorite day of falconry research (thank you, Randy).

My mother is an artist with much more than cameras and flowers. She's a painter and collagist who is still participating in Open Studios events at the age of 87. Not bad. I'm hoping that kind of lifelong creativity runs in the family.


  1. I love the picture of you as a child. Its great that you still let your mom take professional pictures of you as an adult.

  2. I love the one with the falcon! It has a sweet kind of wildness about it.


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