Earlier this year I shared my fascination with black and white artistic author photos, highlighting images of Eudora Welty, Katherine Ann Porter, Virginia Woolf, and Colette.
Finding images of male writers that compare to the women is difficult for me–most of them lack the intensity or are off in some way (Hemingway’s tendency to be photographed with guns, the obvious way Fitzgerald pandered).
Samuel Beckett. The Irish playwright has a fantastic face and there are a number of striking shots of him looking directly into the camera. The almost goofy nature of this image, his glasses on his forehead, shows that he is not all intensity. The Irish sense of humor is evident.
John Fowles. I happen to love pictures of Fowles because he, like me, always has crooked glasses. The rocky seashore, the isolation: he might have just stepped out of The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Even though the photo is certainly posed, it looks almost as if Fowles was stopping to say something when the photographer snapped it.
Jack Kerouac. In pictures, Kerouac tends to read as an aspiring method actor–all intensity and stray locks of hair. Photos like this one are striking to me in that I can see the author caught unaware, working, as opposed to posing. His eyes are closed as if he is away from the physical world. Thinking? Listening? Creating?
Haruki Murakami. The Japanese writer is often photographed in guarded positions. His go-to pose is to lean his head on his hands. Sometimes he’ll cross his arms over his chest. In this image, the photographer either wisely gave him something to keep his hands occupied, or Murakami used the kitten as a crutch. Note the hand placement and the way he is holding it–is he protecting the kitten or the other way around? They seem somehow ostracized from the viewer, isolated. Thematically, the photo seems deeply connected to Murakami’s own writings.