What’s Does Your ‘About’ Page Say About You?

What’s Does Your ‘About’ Page Say About You?

amazing-photog-bio.jpg


Just about every person with a website has an “About” or “Bio” page on their website. This is the space dedicated to getting everyone really excited about you. I read these pages all the time and I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of these pages are a complete failure.

An “About” page should quickly and easily supply the basic information about you, your services, and your specialties. When people arrive at this page, that’s usually what they are looking for.

If you’re looking for a few friendly suggestions, I just-so-happen to have some for you. :-)

1) Mention the basic facts right away.
When I go to an About page, I’m always looking for the who/what/where details. Usually I’ve been looking through various other parts of the website, or enjoying the photographer’s work, and I’ll want to know more about the artist so I’ll hit the About link. I always appreciate getting the basic information out of the way within the first few lines in the page.

Once I get the basic info (what you shoot, where you shoot) I can continue reading to get additional details. Start with the general facts, and then get into the details, not the other way around. (Remember the “Inverted Pyramid” theory of writing? Use it!)

2) You should include your location.
Some photographers are willing to travel anywhere, and feel that listing their location will end up costing them business. I think this is a mistake. Not mentioning the location of your home base may be resulting in FEWER assignments.

Some people may be willing to pay for your travel expenses, and some might not. If you’re based in Cleveland, and someone is specifically looking for a photographer in Northern Ohio, not including your home base may disqualify you for this assignment.

If you’re willing to travel, then you should mention this too. Either there is money in the budget for travel expenses, or there isn’t. The person looking for a photographer will make that decision.

3) Keep it short, simple, and real.
Although it’s a good idea to be creative, it’s also a good idea to make sure its is easy to read, not too long and wordy. I’ve seen situations where a photographer’s About page is complex and filled with unimportant and confusing information. Don’t try to make yourself sound more important by using complex-sounding words. Simple is best.

Don’t do this:

“I am dedicated to a life-long pursuit of relevant visual exploration that enlightens, inspires, and makes consistently positive change for the human condition in communities around the globe.”

Remember, your website should have a goal in mind – such as bringing in shooting assignments – and your About page should be written so that it helps to achieve that goal.

4) Resist the temptation to give your whole life story.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that your grandfather gave you that first Konica Autoreflex TC camera at the age of 12, and that you were totally hooked on photography when you saw that first print develop like magic before your eyes in the darkroom, and that you were the star photographer for your high school yearbook, and that your first published picture was a portrait of your 100 year-old neighbor who said it was the best picture of them ever taken.

But nobody cares.

If you really feel the need to include this type of information, put it at the bottom of the page, below all of the really important stuff that people really DO care about.

5) It’s OK to write in “first person” style.
It cracks me up when I’m on a photographer’s website, that’s filled with their photography, their blog posts, both written from their own perspective – but the About page is written in the third person. I’d vote for keeping things consistent. Keep your About page from sounding like a Wikipedia entry by writing the text for your About page in the same first-person style found throughout the rest of your website.

Unless, of course, you have someone else writing the text, and there’s a byline. But if you do that, it might seem a bit pretentious.

6) It’s nice to include a photo.
Certainly not a requirement, but I do appreciate seeing a picture of the photographer on the About page. Many in the photo industry are visual people, and including a picture of you helps to form a mental image of you as a real person when they’re writing to you, or speaking to you on the phone.

Try to resist the temptation to use a photo of yourself as a child, in a Halloween costume, or passed out drunk. Leave those photos on Facebook for them to find later. :-)

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There are 10 comments for this article
  1. Michael LaFleur at 2:06 pm

    I see violations of #3 and #4 all the time. Some of the #3 violations are pretty far out there, but quite entertaining. Might I suggest #7: Name dropping a list of high-profile companies without linking to examples of work. Example, “My clients include Nike, Gatorade, National Geographic, Boeing, Better Homes & Gardens, NASA, NCIS, Highlights for Children, Dell, the Larabie Project, ShamWow, Slap Chop, and Fortune 500 Companies.” (Really? Congrats. Yawn.)

  2. Kymri / Mira Terra at 3:22 pm

    Hmmm. I have two websites with two very different “About” pages. My Photoshelter hosted “About” page is simple, sticks to the need to know stuff, and neglects #5 and #6. It was written and keyworded strategically with assistance from an SEO guru at Photoshelter. My other, older website has a very different “About” page, written with the assistance of an Ad Agency/PR firm I was shooting for way back when. It is #4 all the way…and I often wondered myself if anyone really cared. Well, of the two, I still get far more queries via the older website, and often a mention of praise for the “About” page which stands out from other togs and makes me personable and approachable. It clearly seeds interest and conversation. The Photoshelter site brings generic and business-like queries via email, and generates little more than stock sales. The other site, which is outdated and not all that spectacular, still results in the viewer actually picking up the phone to speak to me in person, and generates real assignment work. That’s a good thing :) For those who “care” to compare…. Photoshelter http://www.miraterraimages.com/about/ Original http://www.miraterra.com/about.htm Thanks Grover for friendly suggestions, I can see where both “About” pages could use some additional tweeking!

  3. Gabriel Morosan at 6:49 pm

    Very good article Grover! I always feel the handicap of having english as a second language. I am trying my best to get rid of the ” old latin language ” habits and keep the info short and precise. With the industry changing, being a hard worker, having a good eye and talent is not enough to succeed.It is a tough business environment out there. I find that online communication skills are even more important. Thank you again for the info and knowledge you share with us.

  4. Brian Davidson at 3:34 am

    Hi, I couldn’t agree with you more about #5. It really get’s my goat when you read a photo bio in the third person when it was obviously written by the photographer themselves! It seems so false and pretentious.

  5. dustinturin at 5:15 pm

    Great article, and many good points. I guess I am alone in disagreeing with point #5, first- vs third-person in the bio. I am always uncomfortable reading bio’s written in first person, particularly when I don’t actually “know” the person. I use a bit of a combination, with a more traditional 3rd person bio and a personal note in the first person about my interest in photography.

  6. Nathan at 9:33 pm

    These are all very valid points. This is not in any way an attack, but I think those who disagree with #5 are a minority in our western culture. A few people are by nature going to be uncomfortable with even low levels of blind familiarity but I feel that most of them are probably not strong consumers anyhow. I personally believe that writing in the first person is almost mandatory. It is far more sincere, and hopefully communicates a much more ‘personable’ and genuine nature to your potential customers. It makes you a ‘real’ person. The only reason to break this rule is if you actually have other people who do the work for you. In that case you are in fact less approachable, and legitimately can show a more businesslike and detached nature.

  7. Lindsay at 6:35 pm

    Should I include anything about still being in photography school or jus go with the “emerging” photographer description? I don’t have a specialty yet either- I’m still shooting a wide variety. Should I just list a few I think I’d like to go into? Thanks for this article.

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