Nekkid Truth, Part III: Getting the…Biz-ness

With hair and makeup out of the way, we sally forth to our third and final essential ingredient of a winning publicity photo.

The retouch.

“But I want to look like myself,” you say.

Coiffed, buffed--and retouched. Photo by
Coiffed, buffed--and retouched. Photo by

And good for you. You should. In a recent Vanity Fair interview, 51-year-old film star and legendary beauty, Michelle Pfeiffer was asked to comment on the preponderance of plastic surgery among celebrities. To paraphrase the presumably unaltered Pfeiffer, as we grow older we should still be recognizable to our friends.

Candid shots are great for family and friends, the people who already know and yes, love us. But when a photo is intended for wider, public distribution, we want to put our best…face forward.

Arguably those smile lines and crow’s feet are badges of honor. And our faces are mobile, ever changing landscapes. A photographic portrait, however, is a static freeze frame capture of a set of sub-seconds. With unlimited time to look, viewers invariably hone in on the flaws.

In publishing we say, “the writing is in the rewriting.” Similarly, the “art” of photo editing/refinishing is every bit as essential to a great final product as capturing the winning shot.

A good photographer knows how to steer clear of overly plasticized perfection while conveying a polished yet natural look. 

In the before/after photos shown here, notice how photographer, Biz Urban manages to “disappear” not only the puffy dark circles beneath my eyes and the small scar on my left cheek but also a good part of the last decade!

Before: A perfectly nice photo for family and friends but for promo not so much.
After: note how the puffy circles disappear from beneath my eyes. Ditto for the scar and freckle on my cheek.









Voila, publicity photos that look like me–currently–with the photo retouching equivalent of a few light (and pain free) nips and tucks.

For more information on Biz Urban, including samples of her work, visit her website.

Photographer Biz Urban.
Photographer Biz Urban.


Seeing Stars…

Yesterday’s Matthew Modine sighting turned out to be but the kick-off to a plethora of Real Live Celebrity sightings. (And the RL’s are ever so much perkier than the alternative). 😉

Thanks to Regency historical author, and Lady Jane Salon co-founder, Maya Rodale who asked me along as her guest, I attended the twenty-fifth anniversary of “A Gala Evening of Readings” hosted by Literacy Partners. For the past thirty-five years, Literacy Partners has provided “hope and opportunity for adults who cannot read” in the form of free adult and family literacy programs reaching more than 25,000 disadvantaged New Yorkers.

Held in the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the evening was “gala” indeed, the guest list studded with stars, the plaza outside a veritable red carpet Who’s Who of Manhattan socialites and celebrities from the news media and literary worlds, all decked out in designer duds. Note: We didn’t look any too shabby ourselves but since shutter-bugging didn’t seem to be quite the thing, you’ll have to take my word for it).

At the pre-program cocktail reception, Yours Truly, along with Maya and our mutual friend, Scandalous Woman Elizabeth Kerri Mahon jostled for vino and noshes with celebrity attendees including Martha Stewart (she sat two rows behind us in the auditorium later), Tommy Tune (“Jenny, Jenny…”), Barbara Taylor Bradford, Barbara Walters, and Barbara Goldsmith to name but a few. (And yes, that’s a lot of Bab’s).

The main event featured readings by Barbara Walters (who read the prologue from her recent memoir), Marie Brenner (author and writer-at-large for Vanity Fair), Christopher Buckley (son of the late William F), and David Wroblewski (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle).

Sarah Lindsey, Rob of Romantic Times BOOKREviews, and Hope share the love at the May Lady Jane's.
Sarah Lindsey, Rob of Romantic Times BOOKReviews, and Hope share the love at the April Lady Jane's. Photo courtesy of Rob, RT Mag.

In like support of literacy and general feel-goodness, I hope anyone in the New York area, or in town for Book Expo America will join us for the June 1st Lady Jane’s Salon. We’ve just added a fourth fab author to our line up. Talented historical author, Diane Gaston will join Amanda McCabe in reading from their anthology, The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor, May ’09, a featured book for Harlequin’s Diamond Anniversary.

Diane Gaston. Photo courtesy of
Diane Gaston. Photo courtesy of

As always, the proceeds support Maya’s charity, Share the Love, which reaches out to groups serving women-in-transition as they work to build hopeful, independent lives.