Commercial Headshot

What Are Author Headshots?

Author headshots are professional portraits commonly used to print and promote novels or non-fiction literary works. For authors, a well-crafted headshot serves two essential purposes. Firstly, it aids in securing a publisher by creating a positive first impression. Secondly, it facilitates book promotion and improves sales.

At its core, a book reader wants an author who appears intelligent and engaging, as they expect the author to embody the essence of the book’s content. Therefore, an excellent author headshot should align with the book’s theme while intriguing potential publishers and future readers.

While the inside sleeve of a book is the most common location for an author’s headshot, these photos can also be effectively utilized in promotional materials, advertisements, and speaking engagements.

Are Author Headshots Important?

Have you ever encountered someone whom you either instantly liked or disliked? You could pinpoint the reasons behind your sentiments, or you couldn’t. Nonetheless, most individuals tend to form “first impressions” of others in a fraction of a second. These initial perceptions can significantly influence decisions on hiring, purchasing, and even listening to others.

In the modern digital age, creating first solid impressions is crucial as they often happen online. To effectively convey the significance of your ideas, it is essential to avoid appearing dull. Instead, opt for engaging headshots that captivate your audience’s attention and leave a lasting impact.

What Do I Wear for Author Headshots?

The choice of attire depends on your personality, the theme of your work, and where the photos will be displayed. For conservative or academic publications, it is advisable to opt for formal attire. However, if you publish a piece of fiction, you have more flexibility to select the most suitable clothing and can go for a casual look. In any case, solid-colored attire generally photographs better than complex patterns or faded/pastel clothing. If you are still trying to decide, please get in touch with us for guidance. We are always here to assist you.

How Do I Pose for Author Headshots?

There’s no need to go overboard with your poses regarding author headshots. Unlike other photographers who impose bizarre positions on their clients, our photography sessions prioritize minimalist poses. We firmly steer clear of that practice.

Our main goal is to showcase your professionalism rather than our photography skills. At the start of your session, we recommend warming up with simple poses. Just stand tall and smile.

We can gradually introduce head tilts and more intricate poses to elevate the visual appeal as the session progresses.

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Author headshot - Professional headshot

What Backdrops are Best for Author Headshots?

Selecting the appropriate backdrop for your headshots depends on the theme of your work. A kitchen setting is ideal for cookbook authors, while academic books are best portrayed in a library. On the other hand, business books can be shot in-studio or on-site at the business location itself. Outdoor sessions work well universally.

For prolific writers, it’s recommended to have multiple photos that can be used across different platforms. Ideally, this includes a combination of studio headshots and outdoor shots to complement each other. Having the same headshot on LinkedIn, the company website, and press releases may need to be more professional.

Explore our headshot backgrounds page to see examples of our wide range of studio backdrops. Zen Studios LA offers many backdrop options to choose from.

What If I’m Not Photogenic or Hate Getting My Photo Taken?

At Zen Studios LA, we’ve got you covered! Unlike most portrait photographers who create an uncomfortable atmosphere, we prioritize our clients’ experience. We believe in capturing natural and authentic moments that truly reflect your vision. Our studio is designed to be fun and stress-free, with upbeat music and open communication to ensure we deliver amazing headshots you’ll proudly showcase online.

How Much Do Author Headshots Cost?

Depending on geography, package, and provider, author headshots can cost between $225 and $999.

When considering pricing, consider a) licensing (who owns the photos) and b) retouching fees.

Regarding licensing, photographers usually grant ownership of the photos you purchase from them. But wait, there’s more! This fee is separate from the “session fee” that covers your time in their amazing studio.

However, some extra licensing fees might be involved if you want to use those stunning photos for a press release, advertisement, magazine, or book cover. Oh, the price of fame!

Now, here’s something to consider: retouching services. Many talented photographers charge between $50 and $150 to work their magic per photo. Be sure to factor in those fees when calculating the total cost of your session. It’s all about capturing that perfect moment, after all.

But hold on! At Zen Studios, things are different. Our sessions start at $225, but guess what? You get to keep 100% usage rights for ALL the images from your epic shoot. And that’s not all! We’ll even throw in a custom-retouched image of your choice. How awesome is that?

So, why wait? Let’s make some memories together at Zen Studios. Your journey to picture-perfect moments starts here!

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  • 1 Look (1 Outfit / 1 Backdrop)

  • Wardrobe Consultation

  • 1 Hi-res Retouched Image

  • Women – Makeup – Add $140

  • Men – Grooming – Add $125

  • Contact us for Spring Promo 2024!

  • 2 Looks (Outfits and/or Backdrop Change)

  • Wardrobe Consultation

  • 2 Hi-res Retouched Images

  • Women – Makeup – Add $140

  • Men – Grooming – Add $125


  • On-Location Shoot – 120 min Session

  • Wardrobe Consultation

  • 10 Hi-res Retouched Images

  • Women – Makeup – Add $200

  • Men – Grooming – Add $125