There’s something about Samuel Beckett that makes photo- and/or bio-graphers want to take black and white photos of him. Things are more serious in black and white, a kind of pre-industrial grimness overlaid with existential severity. (Metallica’s Unforgiven video also capitalizes on this aesthetic, or “old dude in dark room.”) His predecessors (Kafka, Joyce, etc.), having lived during the time of black and white photography, are remembered that way for good reason — but it’s interesting when others promote irrelevant aesthetics which seek to implicate some underlining value of an author.
I often experience idolatry when looking at author photos. In this business, they are the gods. Readers need a “way inside,” and as evocative as words are, pictures of the buggers don’t hurt. I love it when a moderately famous and respected author is clearly depressed and struggling to hold a reasonable face, for it somehow makes me feel better. When the author is content, or worse, self-satisfied and (god) attractive, I feel passive yet distinct anger towards the author. This, of course, is stupid, but I am human, and humans are good at stupid.