Anyone remember this paragraph from the Author Questionnaire below?

Author Photograph
When you return this questionnaire please send along a glossy print of a recent photograph of yourself. This photo may appear in the catalog and/or on the book jacket, and may be used for publicity efforts and in advertising. If it is a professional photo, be sure the photographer is willing to let it be reproduced and that you have cleared any permission fee required to use the photo on the book jacket and for promotion for our edition and subsidiary editions. Supply the photographer’s name for credit line purposes.

I hate having my picture taken because I feel like an idiot while the photographer is at work. (Not too different from the feeling I get when I’m having my hair cut and have nothing to say to the stylist…) For the last two years, I’ve used a photograph that I love–taken by William McEwen, an innovative and accomplished portrait photographer in Texas. (Visit his website: He took the picture while I was in Houston on a speaking engagement. It’s on my front page:

Unfortunately, I can’t go on using it because I’ve cut all my hair off, and (even more unfortunately) I haven’t been in Texas so that Mr. McEwen can take another one. Looks like I’ll need to find a local photographer.

So weigh in with your opinion here. I need a photo which will make me look both impossibly beautiful and serenely intelligent, while concealing crows’-feet and grey hairs, not to mention the look of discomfort on my face which photographs generally seem to bring out. Here are my local options. Which one would you pick?

C. Ritchie Photography at
Bruce Nelson Photography at
Del Haven Studios at

And for those of you who weighed in on the cover design, below–as soon as I get a cover image, I’ll post it so that you can see the final product.

Showing 33 comments
  • Susan in TX

    Disclaimer: I didn’t read any of the available pricing info, so if that is a factor, I didn’t take it into consideration. That said, I would say, if you need B&Ws, go with Bruce Nelson, if you need color shots or both types, I’d go with Del Haven. My opinion is purely based on the visual presentation of their online portfolios. Not to bash the other guy in any way, but the work on the critchie website looked like pictures you could get anywhere.
    Just my .02, which may be more than it’s worth! 😉
    BTW, I loved the pictures on the previous post! We are “backwards” from you — having 3 girls and THEN a boy! He holds his own though, and at 5, has taught the girls quite a bit about weaponry. 🙂
    Happy decision-making!

  • TESEmom (Elizabeth)

    Well, DelHaven wasn’t working for me today, but I loved Bruce Nelson’s work. He has an artistic feel, but captures personality in his photos. CR Ritchie seemed more appropriate for having the kids pictures taken there, not an author photo.

  • Kolbi

    I don’t know why, but the Del Haven Studio site wouldn’t open for me, so all I could look at were C. Ritchie and Bruce Nelson.

    I would say that if you are generally not comfortable with being photographed, that Bruce Nelson would probably be better for you than the C. Ritchie guy because he seems to be more able to put his subjects at ease and/or catch them looking natural. The C. Ritchie photos look posed and staged. The Bruce Nelson photos look relaxed and natural. So between those two, I would go with Bruce Nelson.

    But one thing I would also like to add is that this would be a WONDERFUL time for you to bundle up your parents and Pete and the kids and have some really beautiful family photographs taken (if you haven’t done that lately).

  • Kolbi

    Okay, finally got Del Haven to load and I still prefer Bruce Nelson. Bruce Nelson seems to be more artistic and have a flair for catching people looking comfortable with themselves. Del Haven seems more staged.

  • Miz Booshay

    Oh, I love Bruce Nelson’s work.

    By far!

  • Janice in NJ

    Hmmm… how about the one with you, your dad, and the happy lad sitting on the chicken-house/writer’s-studio roof?

    Maybe it doesn’t scream “Wise Professor of History” but it makes your book seem … hmmm…. shall we say… accessible?

    Good luck in your choices.

  • Anne in Saskatchewan

    I read somewhere that the secret to getting a good photo is to think of someone you love while the picture is being taken 🙂 Good luck!

  • Heather

    What about Bob? A plane ticket to his studio costs much less than those other guys! 😉

  • Sarah

    Of course it’s a matter of personal taste, but I think Nelson’s portraits look more professional and tasteful. More timeless.

  • Verity in Alberta

    I think the Bruce Nelson site was great. He seemed to capture the natural beauty of his subjects. Have fun!

  • Lisa

    I agree about liking Bruce Nelson the best too. I get the feeling he’d capture a classy picture of you at ease and “impossibly beautiful” without coming across stuffy or posed.

    Short spunky hair is very sophisticated, hip, young and sexy! You’ll look great!

  • Diane

    Can’t you get your brother to take it?

    But, if you really have to choose between those three, I like Bruce Nelson. If he can make a door look that gorgeous, just imagine what he can do with someone as beautiful as you (-:


  • JFS in IL

    well….I liked the Del Haven images..but then the author photo of the book series I have been reading shows a guy messing around on his boat.
    I am imagining a head shot, 3/4 view, b/w, taken slightly from above so you can pose, head slightly cocked and glancing upwards….peering wisely at the reader with a knowing look….
    ‘course I also imagine a dialog “balloon” overhead showing the thought “I DON’T want my picture taken!”

    I think a shot of you in your study (do NOT tidy it up in advance”)
    in b/w, would be good. Surrounded by books and papers.

  • Michele T. in WA

    I didn’t look at the prices, but based soley on their online portfolios, I prefer Bruce Nelson. Unless you want your picture taken at the beach, then go with Del Haven. I agree with Kolbi–get some family portraits done while you’re at it!

  • Lynn in WI

    I’d probably call all three and see which one was the easiest to talk to. I have the same issues with having my picture taken and would imagine that if comfort and ease are issues it doesn’t really matter how great their best material is if I’m still uncomfortable in front of their camera.

  • Gina

    I liked Bruce Nelson’s work. I think his style would put you at ease. As for the grey hairs…highlights. I got my hair highlighted for the first time about a month ago. I don’t have any grey yet but my hair had become rather dull. Pay more for a good salon though. Its worth every penny. You’ll feel like a new woman!

  • Denise

    Bruce Nelson. Hands down! He captures the inner person and photos look completely natural. His approach would definitely work for you.

  • Jilligan

    My impressions:
    Critchie – nice
    Delhaven – artificial
    Bruce Nelson – pathos
    I would chose Bruce Nelson.

  • Melissa in Va

    Could I be so bold as to recommend another WONDERFUL professional, accomplished photographer who is fairly local…and AWESOME to work with? Nevermind that she is my sister…….she is AMAZINGLY artistic, and does the most beautiful things with natural lighting you’ve ever seen! Take a look! You’ll dig her stuff! Impossibly beautiful and serenely intelligent? No problem.


  • Padmé

    Bruce Nelson seems to have his subjects looking more relaxed. I like him the best.

  • Sherri-Ann

    Without reading everyone elses’ comments I thought Bruce Nelson’s work was the best. But then the picture of the young cowgirls on the beach looking provocative might work for you too, LOL!!!
    And the idea of thinking of someone you love while having your picture taken would probably help you tons.
    Keep us posted.

  • karenciavo

    What? No Glamour Shots? 😉

  • Mindy

    I don’t know, but when you find the photographer who can do all those things (also including making me seem thinner than I am) could you pass that along? I think he could get quite a few more bookings! 🙂

  • Beverly Boytim

    I love B/W so…………drumroll please…………

    Bruce Nelson would be my pick. He also seems to really be able to catch the moment.

  • Rebecca

    Absolutely Bruce Nelson. WOW! He is very gifted. Whatever you’re trying to convey, it seems that he could get it across in a picture without words!

  • Karen

    I like Delhaven. I liked the warmth of the pictures that I saw in their porfolio. I think it is really hard to choose. I hope that they get that cheery look you have.

    Blessings to you.

  • FlockOfSillies

    Bruce Nelson, without a doubt.

  • Brooke

    Well it seems that the majority vote is for Nelson. I just wanted to let you know that I had my high school pictures done by C. Ritchie 10 yrs ago. I remember feeling very unnatural while most of them were being taken and it really showed int he results. I only ended up liking two of the many pictures.

  • Christina

    My daughter and I loved Bruce Nelson. Thomasina also looked promising. B.Nelson’s clarity and sharpness, lighting and candidness felt intimate and romantic. Enjoy!

  • Dy

    Oh! I’m so glad Melissa posted Thomasina’s website – she is amazing. I came back here twice to suggest her, and stopped both times because she’s not in VA Beach. But she is in VA, and she’d be worth the drive.

    She did a family photo for us, and it’s amazing. I just KNOW I didn’t look as good that day as she made me look! (And I appreciate her for it.) Very down to earth, easy to be around, and on-the-ball. If you’re not settled on Nelson, seriously, give Thomasina a look, or ring her up and talk to her. I think you’d be comfortable with her and her enthusiasm is catching.


  • Jenni in KS

    I agree with whoever recommended the photo your brother took (on his site). It’s such a great picture, and so natural and relaxed.

  • Jan P. in SC


    I liked the photo of you that your brother took on his gallery page. Could you use it? It kind of made me think of you looking out into the sea of time. You looked happy about it too!

  • Grace


    I vote for Nelson as well. I agree with others who commented on a classic yet natural feeling in his work.

    As a graphic designer who has taken a lot of candids in my time, I find that most people (myself included) get squirmy when scrutinized by the camera. Somehow, though, being outdoors puts people at ease and shooting with available light looks fresh and natural. Go for a pleasant outdoor location where you can think about flowers, trees, birds, kids, etc.

    Good luck!

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