Last weekend, the amazing Ellen agreed to take some author photos of me!

…In front of THE BEST MURAL OF ALL TIME.

Basically, this is a mural of awesome people who have been drinking gin (steadily) since 1895, AND LOVING IT. And I love them for it. (Except that jerk in the white breeches trying to hand an enormous flower to the gin bottle; for whatever reason I really hate him. I found this out only after I was looking at proofs, though, or I would have stood right in front of him in every shot, that jerk.)

I was very nervous about getting any kind of official photo taken, because I suspected I was not particularly comfortable in front of a camera. (Spoiler alert: this is an understatement.) I brought my friend J. with me, because I knew she’d yell at me about any weird faces when Ellen might err on the side of politeness.

As it turns out, I am so spectacularly uncomfortable in front of a camera that Ellen abandoned quite a bit of politeness by the end of the process. I mean, it’s not like I was holding out hope for a career in the expressive arts, but when someone says, “Smile!”, surely that is something my face knows how to do, right?

Nope. There was a lot of, “Okay, smile…wait, what are you doing?” (I had no idea.) “Could you look slightly less like you’re about to kill me?” (I could not.) And finally, “Could you just…?”, which was my cue to somehow move my body and face into something resembling a human. (I did my best.)

Also, turns out that my Transition lenses are super effective, even in the shade on an overcast day. Surprise! This meant taking off my glasses for several shots so I did not look like a Deal With It meme. Taking off my glasses did not help, since I don’t even know how to hold my eyes open when I can’t focus on anything. (This is not the first time I have encountered this! My junior-year high school portrait was taken without glasses at my parents’ request; in it, I am so blankly wide-eyed that I look as though I am preparing to burn down the school to declare my love for David Cassidy, whose haircut I had stolen. That was a banner year.)

J. likened the whole affair to this:

[ETA: RIP, actual behind the scenes video involving use of “Smile…LIKE A PERSON.” Accept this substitute, since we must.]

…She is not wrong. (She actually had to use, “Like a person!” TWICE.)

However, Ellen is such a good photographer that somehow I actually got some of my favorite pictures of me ever out of this shoot, so whatever Ellen did, it totally worked! Now I get to stand in front of that amazing mural, FOREVER.

Bonus: now that I have an official picture, I don’t have to put that high school yearbook photo on my book cover! I think everyone wins.

ETA: Ellen pointed out I hadn’t actually included any pictures! Well done, me.