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The photographer’s biography – it’s your window to the world. Your opportunity to reveal the person behind the camera, to impress the world with your knowledge, wisdom and experience. Or so it should be. Photographer’s biographies can be somewhat formulaic, often saying many of the same things: things that the photographer thinks that you want to hear, but in reality they really have seen it all before. So today and with tongue planted firmly in cheek, we are going to take a look at some of things you really do not need to say in your bio.
Photography is My Passion: That’s great. Fantastic. But also a given. If you have spent time, money and talent presenting your photography on a well designed website, the majority of us will assume that it is your passion. I am pretty certain I have never looked at a good photographic portfolio and thought, that guy obviously hates taking photos.
I Was Born With a Camera in my Hand: Simple, no you weren’t. End of.
Award Winning Photographer: You may be. I won a 10+ in the South London Federation of Camera Clubs in 1986. That technically makes me an award winning photographer. I have won very little since but that does not make me a bad photographer. If you have won awards, awards that your adoring public may have heard of, then by all means publicise them. If, like me, you are referring to an obscure local event, then just let your pictures do the talking.
I Use A Canon/Nikon (Insert Model Here): One of the more common boasts on biographies is the gear boast. It often goes something like, “I have used Nikon exclusively for 28 years and now shoot using 12 D4s each with the a trinity of 14-24mm, 24-70mm 70-200mm 2.8s.”
Asleep yet? I know I am. Firstly, if you are trying to impress a non photographic audience, you will have lost them at D4s. They have no idea what 14-24mm is and don’t give a monkeys testicle that you can 2.8 anything. If your audience is your photographic peers, they will just think you are a boastful rich guy.
Name Dropping: Nobody likes a name dropper. If you are inspired by someone's work, then by all means make a small reference to them. If you once stood next to Annie Leibovitz in a hotel, then don’t try and work it into your bio. Ultimately you are promoting yourself and your abilities not any other photographer, superstar or not.
Don’t Be Arrogant: Very few people warm to arrogance. In fact it is more likely to put people off than attract them. Arrogance can manifest itself in a number of ways. Boasting about all the places you have been to and are going to visit in the next year can come across as arrogant. By all means mention a country or two that inspired you but don’t go on about how you discovered and documented a pigmy tribe in Papua New Guinea, especially if they were actually a local folkloric dance group. Looking down on others can also be very arrogant, we all love photography, you don’t love it any more than anyone else.
Don’t Write War and Peace: If you want to write your memoirs, publish them on Amazon or Lulu. We don’t need to know how your photographer parents breast feed you on stop bath or how your uncle Harry bought you an F5 for your 10th birthday. Following on from that, don’t rant. Rants are great, they can help eliminate the stress of a day behind the camera, but not on your bio. The only negatives on your bio should be the rolls of T-Max you developed in your early career.
Check your Grammar and Spelling: If yuo wont to come across akross as porefsssional then it startz wid da way whot you rite. ‘Nuff said.
Writing a bio can be a fun, engaging but also tricky. Some of us love self promotion and can write about ourselves freely. Others are somewhat more reserved and find it difficult to self express. Hopefully by avoiding some of the more obvious and obnoxious pitfalls listed above you can write a knock out biography for your website. In a couple of weeks we will publish a less satirical article on things to include in your bio.