Will Maria like me?
Have you ever thought about the importance of your biography for your internet presence? Honestly, until now I did not. But I’ve not been happy with my rather boring bio for quite some time either. Only I had no idea what to do different. Writing my bio felt a bit like what Leonard Bernstein recalled when he tried to bring West Side Story on stage:
“Everyone told us that [West Side Story] was an impossible project … And we were told no one was going to be able to sing augmented fourths, as with “Ma-ri-a” …”¹
Do you guys feel the same when it comes to talking about yourself on a webpage? Well, I do. Or rather I did, but I’ve met Maria (director’s note: switch on chorus from west side story’s maria). Basically this encounter with Maria happened due to the the fine folks from Phase One, a brand I absolutely love for keeping Mamiya’s medium format camera alive (even in disguise). They gave me a pleasant surprise by sending me just the information (you could call it wake-up call) I’ve needed. “Writing a photographer bio” turned out to be a very inspirational blog post over at Wonderful Machine, a site I can highly recommend for information purposes.
As you can imagine the biography on my website has been pretty dull (and Maria indirectly confirmed it) and obviously it did not fit the standards – unrevised as it has been for ages. It just has given you the basic facts, like me being a freelance journalist, writing about Photoshop, Lightroom and other imaging software. I know, you might’ve figured that out already, being on my website and all. Also random namedropping of magazines I’ve worked for or books I’ve written didn’t helped much to find out more about me – although my Lightroom book is a pretty good seller, but what does it tell about me? It’s definitely been time to get some help from Maria Luci (chorus on).
Eager to get everything right I’ve headed straight for the “Do” section but got stopped short by the “Don’t” part. Here it says “don’t take yourself too serious”. Now, that’s easy to be, but how to tell people this without looking like a fool? But then my serious bio already looked a tad foolish me, so ok, I just re-wrote it. Or rather, I tried. As Maria also tells me not to be pompous. I gathered this would be something like namedropping my favourite camera brands², people I know or blatantly telling how amazing I am. So what to write?
Restart at the first paragraph: “I decided to write a brand new bio when I’ve got a newsletter from *beep*, who’s camera is my workhorse besides a *beep* from *beep*, convincing me that I’d need a good bio. I was really impressed by the article from *beep* (chorus *beep*) …” Somehow this did not quite work out so easily. But then Rome (I’ve never been there, btw.) wasn’t build in a day, as the saying goes.
Slightly frustrated I skipped the “Don’ts” and went on. Maria really loved me in this part: “be funny” she tells me. I can do this! I’m pretty sure I can do this. Maria, don’t you think I’m funny? Maria? (Chorus, softly fading out) Ok, maybe you just need to get used to my humour. But then that’s me.
Oh, and I should keep it short, Maria tells me. Somehow it sounds like my mum calling from the kitchen that dinner will be ready in five minutes… Now, how am I going to do this, Maria? I’m a writer, we are trained to talk. We get paid by the number of words. We can write about anything, especially if we write about things we love. No, I don’t mean myself, although I get along with me pretty good. But stuff like photography, retouching, Photoshop, composition and flashes, lightmeters and so on. Then we talk a lot.
Well, maybe I should just grab bits and pieces from other people? “I’m Torsten Kieslich and I’m born on July 18th. This is an interesting date, as a lot of interesting people are born on the same day. Like John Glenn, first American to orbit earth. Or Nelson Mandela, first black president of South Africa. Or W. M. Thackeray, the famous author. Oh, and Intel Corp. was founded on this day, too.” Tell you what, Maria, this sounds far better on Hubert Kang’s site.³ Maybe he’s just got the cooler birthday.
Oh well, writing your own bio really isn’t as easy as it looks like. Let’s face it: this is quite a lengthy bio and still you only know that I’m born in July, like Phase One cameras (sidenote: this makes me a pro, right?) and have a wretched sense of humour. Hopefuly you also see that I can write (at night, if that’s a plus) and that I can create decent images.
I could tell you of course about my 15 or so years experience in PR with big names (both industry and agencies) or my more recent years as a freelance journalist/photographer/editor-in-chief, but then we’d end up on the much too serious part again with too much background to explain. Or I’d keep it rather short: I shoot people and write about it. Doesn’t do any good either, I guess. So why don’t you just give me a shout and tell me about your project? I’m a good listener, too. I’m sure Maria will approve …
¹ excerpt from Wikipedia. Yes, I do like West Side Story.
² while I indeed work with a Phase One and a Nikon D800 I couldn’t care less about camera brands. It’s the imagination, not the camera creating the image.
³ I came across Hubert’s site because he was an example in Maria’s post. Have a look at his site – he creates some stunning images.
A more work related biography
Serious and shortRead now