about me, it would seem
Apparently every creative web site, including photography websites, requires an 'About Me' page. To be honest I’m not sure exactly who decided this was a ‘rule’ of website content, but after some investigation it does seem that every photographer's website I’ve checked comes with the obligatory biography page. Of course the sad reality is that these about me pages are one of the Internet's great empty spaces. Few people ever read them and no one much cares about the life and passion of some random photographer. On the Internet there is something called the mysterious 'deep web', and the the scary 'dark web'. Finally down below them all lies the abyss that is the 'photographer's bio page'.
I’m a photographer. What I do is splashed all over my website. My work is there for all to see. Unlike many professions where an explanation of exactly what they do and how they do it could be quite useful, artists need give no such explanation. What we do is precisely what you see in our portfolios and galleries. Clearly I’m a photographer that takes dark, moody, black and white pictures of stuff. You don’t need me to tell you that. You can see if for yourself. But even though this page will never be read and no one cares, as a photographer I must join with my fellow artists and bang on for a paragraph or three about who I am and why I do what I do.
I can of course quite understand why a famous photographer like Joe McNally, Scott Kelby or Trey Ratcliff or a historical one like Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson or Robert Capa might require a biography page. Actually I can also see why a purely commercial photographer should have an 'About Me' page. I myself earn my crust as a professional photographer and I can see why it might be important for me to give a prospective client an insight into who I am. They are potentially going to give me assignments and then all things being equal some cash, so anything that gives the client confidence that I’m the best person for the job is good, right?
Therefore I’ve done a bit of research to see what sort of stuff needs to go in a photographer’s bio.
First off there needs to be a picture of me. Seems sensible enough. It’s good to break the impersonal barriers the World Wide Web often throws up. However it seems this picture of me has to have me holding a camera? Really? This is a photography website and this is a page about me the photographer. I don’t think it’s asking much for the visitor to assume I actually own some cameras. I don’t see plumbing websites showing the owner smiling to camera sporting a plunger, wrench or whatever paraphernalia a plumber requires to plumb.
My accountant has a photo of herself but she doesn’t offer up a calculator to her website visitors. I shudder to think what an Undertaker might choose to display should they create a website along the same lines as a photographer.
So it seems I must I sit there with some flash expensive camera on show. Maybe this proves I am indeed a 'proper' photographer. So be it.
Then we move on to my life story. This needs to immediately come across as pretentious. It’s also very important to use Illeism. Illeism is to speak about oneself in the third person. So rather than say “I am a keen photographer.” we say “Greg is a keen photographer.” Of course if the about me page was being written by a third party then it might make sense. But we all know that photographers almost exclusively write their own biographies. So why write about yourself in the 3rd person.
A snippet from Wikipedia sums up Illeism.
Illeism is used with an air of grandeur, to give the speaker lofty airs. Idiosyncratic and conceited people are known to either use or are lampooned as using illeism to puff themselves up or illustrate their egotism.
Regardless though we must adhere to the rules of photography websites if we want to be taken seriously as a photographer. Ok from now I shall refer to myself in the third person.
Now Greg needs to start describing their photographic journey. Mine… oops I mean Gregs began in his mid twenties when he was working for a magazine publisher. He spent much of his day…….
Sod it. I can’t keep this up….
And finally I’m supposed to end by describing how I started taking photographs from before I could walk, had a passion for photography that verged on the obsessive and spent every waking moment taking pictures. With dedicated zeal I apparently crafted and honed my talents until I reached the zenith of photographic excellence. Now I continue on my photographic journey with no less dedication.
This fervoured description of my obsessions may verge on becoming creepy and you may start to think I’m actually a bit odd. I know that’s how I felt after writing this stuff.
And so in conclusion I finish my story and realise that even my own musings about the pointlessness of website biographies is itself a pointless exercise. No one will read this bio either.
And we commit this biography to the deep, in the sure and certain knowledge that no bugger will ever read it.