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.