SNAP IT! by Jan Blazanin

Ever since junior high when I was old enough to realize how I looked in photos, I’ve balked about having my picture taken. (Running and hiding is more like it!) So when my agent asked for an author photo for Fairest of Them All, I was sure that a professional photographer was the only way to go. My best chance of looking presentable was having my picture taken by someone who knew lighting and posing and could digitally remove anything too horrifying. My author photo turned out okay--except for the wrinkles the photographer added--so I was happy with my decision.

But A & L Do Summer is outdoorsy and humorous, so I wanted something less formal for my author photo. My guy Mike loves to take pictures and offered to do a Saturday morning photo shoot. We scouted several locations and settled on the Paragon Prairie Tower in Urbandale. Flowers, benches, and a pond with fountains surround the mosaic tower, which is gorgeous from top to bottom. If I could have found a way to have my picture taken halfway up, I would have.

The morning of the “photo shoot” was sunny, warm, and windy. So much for styling my hair, which is curly and does whatever it pleases anyway. The wind would give me a perfect excuse for it being a mess. But just before Memorial Day I’d had a minor eye procedure to remove dead skin cells from my corneas. (Yeah, it was as gross as it sounds!) Two weeks later my eyes were still ultra-sensitive to the light, and looking at the camera was excruciating. The only way I could stand it was to cover my eyes until Mike said, “Okay,” look up and try to smile while he snapped, and shield my eyes again. He was amazingly patient, though, and several of the photos turned out okay.

When A & L Do Summer was headed for the final printing, Mary Albi from Egmont emailed me about doing something a little different for my author photo. Earlier I’d sent her some pictures from my childhood in the country, and she wanted my opinion about using one of those instead of a traditional author photo. One, especially, of my brother Dan and me sitting on a wagonload of cornstalks with our goats and cow in the background would be an excellent fit with the many farm references in A & L. Since I’d also dedicated the book to Dan, it was perfect.

This author photo in the inside cover of A & L Do Summer is by far my favorite. I look as happy as a “hog in slops” and my wild, curly, wind-blown hair doesn’t matter one bit.


  1. I love this! And seeing authors as young people knowing that all the stories in their heads will one day make it to print. I think it's great for young people to see that authors are people, too.

  2. It's an extraordinary photo--that was an excellent idea. Still, your outdoor shots were wonderful too. I have a lot of angst about author photos too but you "done good!"

  3. Neat! I really liked the one with your head down not looking into the camera too. It makes it a little less traditional! I love that photo of you and your brother though! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks! This was such a fun topic to write about!

  5. Other than the photo from your childhood (and Dan's), I agree with Britt--love that pose and would choose it for later publications if it were mine. You have a brother I'd call really "cool"--but that dates me somewhat!


  6. "Cool" is still cool with me, Zella!


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