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A few weeks back we took a slightly tongue in cheek look at some of the things that you should not put in your photographer’s biography. Today we will remove our tongues from our cheeks and have a more serious look at what you should include in your bio. Whether you are a professional promoting yourself to potential clients, or an enthusiast who wants to get their work seen, your biography is your main opportunity to tell the world who you are and what you shoot. It is often the first thing viewers to your site will actually read after looking at your portfolio so it is important to get it right.
Keep it Short: I am busy, you are busy, the whole world is busy. We don’t want to read through tens of paragraphs of flowery prose just to find out who you are. Keep your bio short, 300-500 words maximum, three to four paragraphs, direct and to the point. Read through your bio several times before you post it, it should take no longer than a minute or two to read. If possible get friends and peers to have a look as well. Constructive criticism will often spot things that you might gloss over.
Who are you? Start the bio with a brief introduction. Who you are, where you are from, where you are based now and how long you have been doing photography. If you are a professional, say how long you have been working in the business and give a very brief outline of the companies you have worked for during your career. If you are an enthusiast, don’t be afraid to say so, a bio should be honest. If you aspire to become professional, mention this, talk about how you plan to make money from you work.
What do you shoot? We all have our favourite genre of photography. Tell you audience what your niche is and what it is that you feel is unique about your photography in that genre. Avoid coming over as a “jack of all trades”, stick with what you know best and convey that to your viewers. If you work professionally tell potential clients how your creativity can bring new ideas to their projects. If you have worked for well know clients in the past, don’t be afraid to mention one or two of them. Avoid being to technical in your descriptions, non-photographers may not understand what high dynamic range or low key lighting is.
Show your Character: There is nothing wrong with being a little light hearted in your bio. Don’t try too hard to be funny all the way through the bio, unless you are an exceptionably talented wordsmith, but if it is in your character, then feel free to slip the odd subject related joke or quip into your bio. Even if you don’t feel like adding humour, try to write in a conversational, approachable manor. Avoid arrogance, rants and worse of all being pompous. As a potential client, I am looking for someone who I can approach, converse and share ideas with, not someone who is going to preach their take on the photographic world to me.
Talk about the future: By this I mean your photographic plans for the next couple of years. You might be investigating the viability of shooting video, or considering the step up to medium format digital. Whatever it is, giving a little information about future plans shows your client both that you are continuing to innovate and that you are not a arrogant enough to assume you know it all.
Add a Photo: People want to see you as well as read about you. Don’t feel pressured into adding a cliched head shot with Nikon/Canon raised to the eye, people know you are a photographer because they are on your site and reading your bio. Add a picture that you a comfortable with and that you feel conveys your character.
Be Literate: You might have the most impressive biography in the business, be a consummate pro but if that bio is riddled with poor grammar or spelling, you are telling people I don’t care. Not everyone is adept at proof reading their own words so don’t be afraid to get a couple of other people to have a read through before you post your bio online. If English is not your first language, then pay for a professional translation from your mother tongue, a translator will be able to convert the nuances of your words into the English version. Under no circumstances use Google Translate (or others) to translate you bio.
Invite to Connect: You should end your bio with an invite to connect with you. This can be via email, telephone or by following on social media.
Writing a bio may seem daunting at first, but if you sit down at your computer on a quiet day, drink a coffee or tea and start typing, the words will soon start to flow. Apply some if not all of the points above and you will be well on the way to a great photographer’s biography.