“Portrait of the Artist…”

52 Pick-Up 2.0, #50 – 12/15/2020

“This is an odd question, but who picks out the author photos in your books, you or the publisher?”
-Jeanette Palmer

Hi Jeanette,

You know, I just got an email from a fellow complimenting me on having an author photo with all the bumps and wrinkles; that it was very courageous of me to have one that looked like me rather than some thirty-five year-old, high school graduation photo like some authors have a tendency to use… And hell, here I thought I was looking pretty good in this one.

Oh, well. I guess the bar gets lower as you get older.

I fought with Viking/Penguin the year The Cold Dish came out because I wanted to have a photo that mimicked Walt’s statement about seeing only one eye and an ear in the rearview mirror of his truck and commenting that he thought from this limited view, he was looking pretty good. I lost that thought when they said folks should be able to recognize me and that an eye and ear wasn’t going to be enough.

My first author photo was one Judy took of me sitting in the ranch truck, which I think we used for about four years. I remember a fellow coming over to me to get his book signed and saying, “You don’t look like your photo.”

I looked up at him while signing his book. “Really?”

“Yep, I figured you’d be older and more pissed off.”

After four years, I started thinking that I needed to have more of a rotation and swore to myself that I’d change the thing every couple of books so that I didn’t start thinking I was younger than I really am. Nothing worse than walking into a library or bookstore for the first time and having them look at the flap photo and not have any idea who you are.

The next one was taken in the dugout of a baseball field in San Mateo where we happened to be for a book event. It’s usually Judy that takes the photos and I always give her credit even though she doesn’t want it. The next was from a professional photographer who asked if I could take an extra twenty minutes after an event in Miami, so I did but only if he’d give me one of the photos. I had to remind him about that when he tried to charge me a year later. The next one was a big hurry, so I just walked out into the northern pasture and had Judy take another one.

I finally hit the big time when we were at a charity auction where they were auctioning off a sitting with my good friend Adam Jahiel, a world-class photographer from over in Story. You can find Adam here on Facebook and on the internet. His work is just astounding and captures so much of Wyoming, the place I call home.

We did one sitting and one of the results is on the back flap of Next To Last Stand. Yep, the wrinkles and bumps are showing, but I never figured I was going to make a living on my looks, so thank goodness I can at least write a little bit.

In answer to your question, my wife Judy has final say on the photo front and she wasn’t willing to go with the eye and ear photo, either…

See you on the trail,


One thought on ““Portrait of the Artist…”

  1. I had the amazing good fortune to have my author’s photo done by fashion photographer David Turner for editing cost only — friend of a friend. Not only is it appealing, but it has aged well, even ten years down the road.


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