Thursday, September 18, 2014

Picturing a Poet

On a recent summery afternoon, I had the fun experience of photographing Jo Ann ClarkExecutive Director of the Hudson Valley Writers Center. You’ll find her thoughts below…
In light of the upcoming release of my new book, I really needed an author’s headshot. This should have presented me with no obstacles. But I honestly have had a life-long loathing of having my photograph taken. My mom’s the same way so perhaps it’s in the genes. My family’s photo albums—remember those?—are stuffed with images of Mom and me in which our facial expressions range from awkward to pissed off.
I also believe that it’s true of many writers that we instinctively like to feel ourselves invisible because then we are freer to observe the environment and people around us. To have a person observing back, well, that upends our writers’ way of moving through the world. I even have always felt great kinship with tribal peoples who believe that a photograph steals one’s soul. So profound is my aversion to cameras, that it has extended to neglecting to document the adorableness and growth of my only child. I do love pictures of him—and feel a lasting gratitude to the friends, family, and fellow parents who have captured him in action over the past 14 years. But it just never occurs to me to snap a picture of him myself.  (No doubt I’ve set him up for decades of therapy….)
But back to that author headshot. I’d put off having it done for so long that my publisher was breathing down my neck. Enter Dorothy! Somehow, at the most harried end of a busy week, after a string of busy weeks, she succeeded in chilling me out,  putting me at ease, and taking the shot that will adorn my modest tome. A combination of Dorothy’s grace, good humor, and artistry—and a glass of sparkling wine—enabled me to get over myself already and to embrace the collaboration—for it truly was that—of sitting for my portrait. She’s a real pro! Dare I admit that I even enjoyed having a bit of my soul stolen away by her, but in the loveliest, most memorable of ways.