A Wrinkle in Time

We have spent the past week watching old home videos. It’s part of the healing process. Death brings us back to the past, reminiscing, recollecting, and repeating the old stories that we haven’t told in years. And we smile.

Memories are who we are, who we’ve been. Looking back, seeing ourselves for who we were during a specific moment in time, is an eye-opening experience. We aren’t aware of the subtle changes that time brings until we see old photos or videos from five, ten, or fifteen years back.

That’s why I titled this post A Wrinkle in Time. Actually a wrinkle is a huge understatement. There have been several wrinkles, and not just in time. There’s no point denying it. They’re written all over my face.

My daughter suggested the other day that I start taking some photos now in hopes that it will save a lot of anguish later on when I try and find a suitable author photo. I’d kind of like to have an outdoor photo this time. Sounds good. Sounds easy. Snap…snap…snap. Digital cameras—how did we ever survive without them? I mean we can snap hundreds of photos if we need to, crop them just so, and basically change them to suit ourselves. Camera heaven.


However, this I have discovered: while outdoor photos offer many different backgrounds, they also seem to offer more wrinkles in the process. I swear. Tis true. And none of it’s good.

Okay, I’m willing to admit the wrinkles are there. I’m 51; it’s a part of life. I don’t consider myself a vain person, but for the love of God must the wrinkles appear to be so…so crater-like? Seriously. A cruel joke by my calculation. As I told my sister on the phone the other evening, they certainly aren’t that deep when I look in the bathroom mirror. “I believe it’s the digital camera. Maybe it’s on the wrong setting or something.”(I was willing to look for reasons. I’m like that, you know.) My sister calmly replied, “Maybe it’s the lighting in your bathroom.”  Thanks sis! I owe you one.

It’s a known fact in this family that I take lousy photos. My kids can verify. I can’t even begin to tell you the horror I put my husband through last time when I suddenly needed a photo for the back of my book. I remember pleading and lamenting, bringing out the big guns as I whined, “I hardly ever ask you for anything.” This was probably hundreds of shots into it, and he was sporting a blister on his index finger. Okay, so the blister is an exaggeration, but you’d have thought he had one the way he protested. I was getting desperate. Every photo looked, shall I say, less than acceptable. One hundred and one weird facial expressions…It seems I could write that book. Back then I had only a week to come up with a decent shot, one I was happy with. Looking back I can’t much blame him. The whole experience was enough to make the most patient person complain. But this time I vow it will be different. I won’t be left scrambling at the end. And if worse comes to worse I’ll use the same photos as on my last novel.

So here’s what we ended up with. The only photo that didn’t show those many wrinkles in time.


What can I say? My daughter made me do it!

Now seriously, the only wrinkles I see in this photo are the wrinkles in my pants and since I’ll only need a head shot… Relax, I’m just kidding.

Hopefully in the months ahead I’ll narrow it down with some decent shots, and while I really don’t like having my photo taken I’m at least going to have a little fun in the process.

Do you have any tips for taking good outdoor photos? I could sure use some help..

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  1. It’s important to have good lighting in your bathroom.

    Just sayin’…..

  2. make sure the light is behind you and move in close to your subject! that will give you natural light, and trust me, fewer wrinkles!!

  3. Laura, I have a few years on you and a few more wrinkles in time and in the flesh. I prefer to think of time as not linear, but as Enge was speaking to … that the past, present and future are all at once in the same time. Therefore, I am still young and wrinkle-less :) My recommendation is to hire a good photographer for inside or out and then pay the money to photo-shop and air brush away the ravages of time. People might be surprised when they see me “in person” but hey … that’s Hollywood baby !!

    • lol! I’m not sure if the world is ready for an air brushed Laura Best. It may be shocking to their systems if they ever meet me at a book signing… Thanks Florence..:)

  4. syr ruus

     /  April 27, 2012

    What are you catching in that photo Laura? All that wonderful and well-deserved luck that is heading your way?

  5. that’s such a cute photo :)

    I know how you feel, I’m in my late thirties, and I find every so often I look at a photo or see myself in the mirror and the changes (although to others are minimal) to me are startling!

    I too need an author’s photo, and I remember going crazy with my husband for the one that’s on my website right now–and that is not representative of me at all. I have decided that I’ll hire a photographer to do it. I have one who did shots of the babies, and she comes here, and it’s so reasonably priced that it just makes sense.

    Good luck, and I hope you get a shot you’re happy with.

    • I’ll be anxious to see the results you get with your new photo, Jennifer. Sounds convenient that she’s willing to go to you especially with your busy schedule.

  6. Love that photo! You were having fun, and that’s when some of the best photos turn up. I’m not very photogenic. That’s why I prefer to be on the other side of the camera.

    I’m no pro but I’ve discovered a few tips:
    1. Take photos on a cloudy day but know where the sun is and keep it at the photographer’s back unless you want the silhouette effect. Bright sunlight creates harsh shadows and emphasizes any lines you may be trying to minimize.
    2. Pick your background carefully so it doesn’t compete with you or what you’re wearing, but then move forward at least 6′ from it so it can be blurred out somewhat (depth of field) and not become the main feature.
    3. Auto focus cameras tend to use multiple focal points and then average them out. Have your photographer focus on your eyes so they’re the sharpest feature. Although you’ll likely crop your photos to a closer head shot, let the photographer zoom in a bit anyway, so he can see facial details in his viewfinder. Respond to his (or someone’s) conversation so you can relax and smile with your eyes. A big grin isn’t necessary if your eyes are sparkling with personality.

    Other suggestions:
    Consider wearing a becoming colour that will enhance your hair and skin tones. Most photographers suggest avoiding white or very dark colours like brown or black as it’s hard to get the exposure right. Also, for a photo shoot, take along a few different things to wear — try shots with a dressy jacket or sweater on, then off; a hat to wear or use as a prop; a scarf, etc. Turn your body and shoulders so you’re not straight on to the camera, and then you can turn just your head back toward the camera for a more casual look. Occasionally sweep your hair around to fall over one shoulder. Raise your chin a tiny bit to let the natural light fill in places that would otherwise be shadowed — around eyes and chin, smile lines, etc.

    How’s that? I’ll bet when you asked for some tips you didn’t expect a complete essay!!! Just keep in mind that creating an artificially perfect image shouldn’t be as important as being your natural self, and you’ll get that ideal shot.

    • Oh, these are all great tips, Carol and you can bet I’ll be trying them out. Luckily I have lots of time and at the rate things are going with the photos I’ll need it. There were lots of other crazy photos taken and I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to post even one. But there ya go. I figured what have I got to lose? Except my dignity of course…lol!

  7. I took a picture of my sister-in-law once, the sun wasn’t high overhead, but behind a tree she was in front of. I used the flash to remove the shadow from her face. She said it was the best picture she’d ever had taken.

  8. hahaha .. um, wow! Laura, you are brave! :) Cute photo.
    You have received some great tips here. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    • I know, Lynn. I posted the photo in a moment of weakness, that and the fact that I was dared. I’m seriously glad to have lots of time to come up with something. The photo on the book is small but it needs to be something I don’t mind looking at forever.

  9. BTW, Laura, there’s a very good online photo instruction site that I love browsing. It has all sorts of photography tips plus a lot in video format. One on taking outdoor portraits is at http://bit.ly/Ii3I27.

  10. Great picture Laura. Aren’t we lucky to have such patient husbands.

  11. Carol provided excellent tips, so I’ll just add to what she said.

    Flesh colours always look good in the evening light, with warm oranges colouring the sky. This is a catch and miss thing. You only have a short window when the sun is at the right height in the sky to get the warm glow on your face. If you can’t do that, get in the shade on day when the light is diffused (thin cloud dispersing the sun’s rays, not bright sunshine). The contrast between the bright sunshine and shade will mess up the light metre. Take photos with and without a flash to see which works best in the lighting condition.

    Digital cameras contain a wide variety of features. See if there’s a portrait setting. Have the camera person stand back at least ten feet and zoom in on your face. Not only does this reduce the wrinkles, it condenses the subject (puts things in better perspecetive) and blurs the background to make the eye focus on the the subject (you). If the camera person can stand 15 feet back and zoom in, that would be better.

    Make sure your camera is set on maximum quality. For me, that’s 5.3 MP (mega pixels). At this setting, you’ll get less pictures per shoot, but in the end, you can crop out a lot of stuff and still have a quality photo. Which brings me to zoom power. Don’t go into the digital zoom (you won’t get great quality there), stay in the optical zoom range. You can also set the focus area; set it to centre so it will focus on you.

    Since the camera adds ten pounds, it’s only fair that you go into your camera program and remove ten pounds by ‘narrowing’ the photograph. Some programs call this pinching. I don’t wear makeup, but when I take the pictures for my upcoming novel, I’ll splatter some on to smooth out the wrinkles (fill in the craters). I have long eye lashes but they’re straight. The little brush with the black stuff on it curls them and shows them off.

    When taking the photos, use an uncluttered background. And as someone suggested, wear a colour that enhances the natural beauty of your skin. Try a light orange, torquoise or sky blue. Try a colour that matches your eyes. If you have blue eyes, a bright blue will bring out the colour.

    I hope this helps. If all else fails, use the picture with this blog. I’m sure you’ll have readers stopping and picking up your book. lol. And remember–though you seem to have this down pat–have fun.

    • Awww… I can relate to not only the wrinkles, but also to being someone who isn’t photogenic—at all! I once had a roommate that was okay looking in person but on film she looked like a movie star? Some people just aren’t that way. Anyway, my thoughts for your photo shoot. You’re off to a good start, outside natural lighting is the best and a sunny day is good, but you don’t want to be in the sun. Nobody looks good in that color that’s behind you in the shot you shared. Find a color to stand in front of the looks nice on you, like pink flowers or a brown barn if those are your colors. Look over the photographers shoulder and think of something you love. Good luck. Thanks for sharing.
      I just read Diane’s posts above she gave great advice!

    • All great tips, Diane. Thanks. I’m totally with you on removing those ten pounds. Putting it that way it hardly seems right not to. ;) Maybe I can even remove fifteen..

      Seriously, this gives me plenty to think about. I’m willing to bet that this time I’ll drive my daughter crazy instead of my husband. I think it’s a good thing that I have plenty of time to come up with one.

  12. I thought I already posted a comment, but don’t see it. I’m seriously thinking of using a photo from when I was a “tween” for my next book. For HARE I ended up using the one decent pic I could find of myself – my childhood best friend and I had just come back from our 30th high school reunion, and she didn’t mind that I cut her out of the photo! I find B&W really makes a difference (in our wrinkly favour…)

    • Yes, I forgot that B&W help hide lines, and the book is historic….Perhaps I’ll give that some thought.

      I can always get a photo of you in front of vittles for your next book…;) Speaking of photos we still don’t have of of the two of us for my scrapbook.

  13. Julie

     /  April 28, 2012

    I can relate to the picture thing. I blame it on having an asymmetrical face when the camera loves symmetry. Also, I don’t wear a lot of make up.

    I do find outdoors light helps, but shady days or shade is best. The light is a bit more diffused.

    • Everyone seems to agree that cloudy days and shade are the way to go. Makes sense since the sun produces shadows.. :) I really know very little about taking photos. I just aim and shoot which ends up being more of a hit and miss when it comes to takig nice photos.

  14. You wear those wrinkles beautifully! Don’t hide them. :-)

  15. I love that photo! Pish-posh, 51 is young!

    • Thanks Linda. My daughter certainly thought it was funny. There were a few other choice shots taken that day. I mean you can only stand to have your photo taken so many times, eventually something’s got to crack… lol

  16. If only you could see yourself through my eyes. But I do understand. I hate hate having my picture taken. I finally got a tripod and now I do it myself if I must. One hundred pictures later. I just turned 59, so I’m not feeling as much sympathy as I should. LOL. But the pic on my blog took 20 retakes before I got it right. Then I noticed my book’s title was backwards. Haha. At that point I didn’t care any longer. But I’m lucky. My publisher didn’t add my photo to the backcover of Broken But Not Dead.

    Ever read Sue Grafton? She wrote the A-Z mystery series. She’s got big fat dark hair until around her N book. What a shock when one day I pick up a new book to find her hair shorter and WHITE. When I wasn’t looking, she got old.

  17. I’ve been told that in order to get a good photo you have to take lots. I can believe it. I also near drove my middle daughter crazy one day trying to get a decent shot. She got so frustrated and finally told me I took lousy pictures. It was true. On the other hand, my oldest daughter likes photos of me that are simply horrid. What’s up with that? Maybe I’ll luckout and Nimbus won’t add my photo. Now there’s a thought. :) I’m just glad I have plenty of time to some up with something.

  1. Nailing a Picture for a Book Cover « Diane Lynn Tibert McGyver

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