How much time do you spend taking photographs to publicise your self-published books? Or to illustrate your blog posts, to tweet in hope of a retweet, or to pin on Pinterest to catch the eye of people who share your passions – and who may, with luck, buy your books?
If you've got into the snapping habit for the sake of book marketing, that's no surprise, because:
received wisdom is that any social media update or blog post that features images will be much more likely to be read and shared
Here's another good reason: we've all heard horror stories about authors who have posted what they assumed were copyright-free images on their blog, only to be taken to court by the copyright holder for scary sums of money.
If In Doubt, Take Your Own Pictures…
Getting into the habit of taking and using your own photos is therefore a no-brainer. After all, few indie authors are in the luxurious position of being able to pay a photographer to snap all the shots they need. Besides, once you get in the right mindset, it's surprising how often marketing-related photo opportunities turn up.
But it's too easy to end up spending a disproportionate amount of time taking photos, which then take time to upload, edit, and file them in a meaningful way so that you can find them again later… Always short of writing time, I find myself asking whether that's the best use of the limited hours in the day, which might be better spent writing – or resting or reading or sleeping, or all those other things that most writers never do enough of.
If the technology in our pockets makes it far too easy to get addicted to the photo habit, our smartphones are effectively our enablers.
Yes, we're lucky to have the technology, and it's great that we have the chance to use it to further our writing careers. But it's also important to strike a balance.
I'm a writer, not a photo-journalist.
Shortage of time is not the only reason for cutting down on photography. I was starting to see the world framed through a lens, missing out on anything that was going on beyond the crop lines. I had acquired elective tunnel vision which diminished the actual experience of whatever I was living through.
…But Don't Miss Out on a Dimension
I am reminded of a visit twenty years ago to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, where I was very excited to be seeing some Impressionist paintings for the first time in real life. I queued at the museum entrance for a long time to take my turn on what was the equivalent of bumper-to-bumper traffic, moving slowly around to spend a few moments in front of each masterpiece. Being so close to the pictures, I was moved to see the thickness of the paint, the individual strokes of brush and palette knife on the canvas making them three dimensional. I felt close to the hands of the artists.
By contrast, the tourist in front of me saw them only in two dimensions, one eye closed, the other up against the eyepiece of his video camera, with the degradation of definition assured. Although I was sure that he was enjoying his holiday in his own way, I felt sorry that he was missing out on so much by his compulsion to film every moment of his tour.
So as not to seem hypocritical, I shan't add any images to this post, apart from the one at the start of me on the other side of a camera for a change. (I really enjoyed that photoshoot, with the responsibility lying solely with the professional photographer for snapping all the authors at this event.)
And my smartphone's switched off, downstairs, in my handbag. Well, till tomorrow at least.
OVER TO YOU
Have I just called the Emperor's New Clothes, or am I being self-destructively obstinate? What's your view on the role of photography in the life of an indie author? I'd love to hear your take!#Authors - how many photos should you take to promote your books? @DebbieYoungBN considers Click To Tweet