I wrote a blog post yesterday explaining why I shan’t be attending a 2-day $1850 “business conference.” Read here.
I posted it on my Facebook page and someone replied, asking me what I think constitutes a GOOD bio. It’s a very legit question, so I put on my very legit thinking cap and wrote down my very legit thoughts on this very legit subject.
First, I think it’s important to understand WHY photographers do this with their bios- why they fill them to the brim with tons of personal details.
It’s done in an attempt to be relatable.
“I’m a mom who likes coffee and adores shopping at Target.”
This is often written in the hopes that OTHER moms who like coffee and shopping at Target will see it and say, “Ohhhh. I must use THIS photographer because we are both moms, we both like coffee, and we both like shopping at Target.”
Survey says….”X!” <I made a buzzer sound as I typed this and then realized you couldn’t hear it. This mom DOES need more coffee.>
Now, you don’t see this in other professions:
“Yes, I’m an attorney with a passion for Divorce Law but I also enjoy digging for clams, “Bridget Jones Diary,” and hot pink lip gloss.”
“My first priority is my family: I am married to my best friend and when I’m not wrangling my three boys: Huey, Dewey and Louie, visiting garage sales, or eating Chinese food (I’m totally obsessed with Kung Pao Chicken) you can find me in my office, where I work as a Children’s Therapist.”
“I’m a crazy, wacky woman with a joy for life! I’m probably the happiest person I know! I simply adore fashion (if it’s pink and sparkly, it’s in my closet) But I also have a heart of compassion. I teach Bible school on Sundays after which I rush home to walk the love of my life, Max. He’s a rescue dog. And while I wear many hats, I am super excited to sit down with you and discuss your funeral needs at Itsagonna Cost Mortuary. Be prepared to get lots of hugs!!!!!!!!!!!!”
When a bio is filled with nothing but “personal fluff,” the reader can easily assume the fluff is there as a placeholder because there is nothing else of substance to include. The personal fluff becomes a substance substitute. It’s like the Splenda of the bio world.
In the interest of guiding you through the murky waters of bio writing, here are some tips:
- A great bio touches on a few personal aspects of the individuals life towards the end of the piece, but doesn’t read like a Match.com profile.
- I actually prefer a bio written in 3rd person, even though you wrote it yourself.
- List your education and credentials early on. Make sure they are relevant to your audience. No one cares that you were crowned the State Fair Queen of Wompa Wompa County in high school. That has nothing to do with your ability to create great images for you clients.
- You want to list your accomplishments without embellishing. For example, if the President stepped off a plane for a 20 minute fund raiser in my home town, and me and my long lens got a photograph of him, I really shouldn’t include in my bio: “Missy has photographed many high profile clients, including the President of the United States.” I mean, I COULD put that, and believe me, photographers do, but we all know that the president did NOT single out the photographers who say this, requesting a photograph. He did not give them a call and say, “Hey, buddy, how ya’ doing? Listen, I”ll be in town for 30 minutes max for a meet and greet, but I want to know if you’d be able to carve out 10 minutes Saturday. I really need a new headshot.” Please.
- I recommend writing a straight, professional bio and then re-writing it to include a few quirky, personal details. There is nothing wrong with adding a touch of humor to your bio or customizing it to make yourself approachable to your readers, but make sure the relevant information far outweighs the fluff.
Now, I’m off to photograph Matt Damon…from my couch…while watching the “Bourne Identity.” And then, I’m off to shop at Target while drinking Starbucks. xoxo
About The Author
Missy Mwac is a photographer/eater of bacon/drinker of vodka and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can follow her social media links here: Facebook, Tumblr. This article was also published here and shared with permission.