My brother is writing a book with his stepdaughter about their scarily parallel stories as cancer fighters and survivors. At the moment, they’re working on author photos for the book cover. This process has made me think about the stories that faces tell, or hint at; the messages that can be perceived subliminally when your photo appears in different contexts — like a book jacket, a Facebook page, etc.
One of my friends has just had a big promotion. An expert in personal branding, she’s in the process of changing all of her online profile photos to be more consistent with her new role as a worldwide executive for a major software company. Personal branding is also an issue for my brother and his daughter as they plan how best to market their book and increase the audience of potential readers.
Given the “Big C” subject of their story, their book’s credibility could be undermined by their physical beauty. The authors have chosen to work with a photographer who earns his living shooting fashion models for glossy magazines. This makes handsome people downright glamorous.
But fortunately, for the sake of marketing his book, my brother’s face hints at the story he has to tell. He has blogged extensively about his fight, and has begun mentoring others who confront similar battles. The book is his response to his fans’ requests to hear more about his story.
At least to those of us who know and love him, his face reveals some of the pain of his battle with head and neck cancer (caused by a virus). In many of her photos, his step-daughter’s face seems less marked by her bouts with cancer. The blessings of youth, perhaps?
I’m glad they chose a photo that reveals some of the anguish they’ve suffered. Had they not done so, had their photo been “too beautiful,” it might have raised questions about the authenticity of their story.
It’s a beautiful story, and one that could help many others when their book is finally published. Beautiful faces, beautiful story, but scary subject matter.