Welcome to Time Out with Tanya, where I’ve put my fast paced graphic design career on hold in favor of adventures in motherhood. I’m capturing every moment on camera and you can come along, if you’d like. Sign up for my weekly email here so you’ll never miss a Time Out.
Earlier this month, I gave you my TOP 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE and promised an additional post on how to write an awesome bio page for your website. Here are some tips for writing your bio I’ve garnered over the years from my good friend and communications guru Lucinda Kay of Let It Shine Media (if you feel you need some communications coaching, you should call her. She helps clients from all over the world).
Your about page or bio is your digital elevator speech. Lucinda likes to call it your “I Am” statement. This should communicate, in a couple sentences, what you and your business is all about. I’ve seen bio pages that were paragraphs long and had absolutely nothing to do with the service the person was offering or why I should hire them. Frankly, I don’t care if you like long walks on the beach, unless I want you to photograph me on the beach. So, how do you develop your “I Am” statement?
Sticking with the classic Who, What, Where, When, Why and How go a long way when developing your communications. Keep it simple! Let’s break it down. Grab a pen and paper and let’s get to work.
Your name, maybe your credentials or experience you have in your industry. You could also include a little info here that might endear you to your target audience. Do you photograph kids? Mention you have kids yourself. Photograph bands? Mention your weekend rock band. Only photograph weddings? Tell a little big about why you love photographing the big day. Keep it short though. One or two sentences.
What makes you stand out from the competition? What do you offer that is unique? Pick your best attribute or strength (or what your demographic will appreciate most about you) and list it here. When developing a true elevator speech, this would be one or two words. I’ll give you one or two sentences for a bio page. An example might be that you only shoot with film or you specialize in Indian Weddings or you are an award winning, exclusive newborn photographer, etc.
Seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many photographer websites I’ve visited and had to search for 10 minutes to find out what city they live and work in. Wow! The average potential client wouldn’t stick around on a site that long. Your about page should include the area where you work. This is also good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you are available to travel the world, say so. If you only work in your city or county, make that clear here.
You could include specific business hours here, or this could refer to the type of subject matter you cater to. If you only shoot babies younger than three weeks old, say so here. Only shoot weddings? Make sure that’s clear. If you shoot a little bit of everything, you could mention that, too. Specializing is part of focusing your message, which so many photographers (myself included) struggle with. If you’re one of those photographers floundering around trying to find your niche, this exercise could be a great way to narrow it down.
Why in the world are you a photographer? It’s not easy. What keeps you coming back? What drives you to keep going? Why did you choose the newborns or street photography or fashion? If you’re not sure, do a little soul searching. Take a look at your collection of images. Do you see a common theme? Figure out what you love and tell your future clients here. This will help you build a connection with them. Again, don’t make this a novel telling your life history. Just one or two sentences.
Including a little information about unique techniques you use could help set you apart from your competition. This doesn’t even have to be technical differences in your gear or working style. There are a million “natural light photographers” out there, so mentioning that you’re a natural light photographer isn’t going to make you stand out. Are you patient with kids? Do you have the stamina of a marathon runner on wedding day? Do you use an antique camera and develop the film in your make-shift Volkswagen Bus dark room? Would you bungie jump off a cliff to get the perfect shot?
Call to Action:
Lucinda says your elevator speech should have a soft call to action at the end. I think it’s a good idea to include one on your bio page, too. Examples could include a link to your contact page, an invitation to meet for lunch, etc.
A few other things to consider when writing for your website:
Spelling & Grammar:
It’s easy to run a spelling and grammar check. Just do it! If you can’t afford to hire a copy writer or editor, at least have your significant other and a few other adults read over it and check for errors.
Somehow blogging and texting have completely erased all rules about punctuation (at least from the English language). Exclamation points used on every single sentence are a trend I’m seeing all over the place (I’m so excited to take your family photos! I love photography so much! I hope you’ll call me and we can meet up for coffee and talk about your session! Click here to see my pricing info!!!!!!) In case you missed the lesson on punctuation in kindergarten, exclamation points basically communicate shouting. Shouting! Would you shout at your clients? Would you want the feel of your communications to be yelling, shouting, exclaiming? I’m allowing you one. ONE exclamation point to be used on your site. Choose how you use it carefully and wisely. Writing in ALL CAPS also communicates shouting. It’s a subtle thing, but something I find incredibly offensive. Maybe I’m too sensitive?
Tone of Voice:
I often see lists of things photographers forbid during a session or rants on their blogs or other negative communications all over the place on their website. Whoa! It’s possible to make your policies and boundaries known without giving the impression that your clients will have a negative experience with you. Keep the tone of voice positive, unless of course your target audience is angsty teens. This is something I’ve also been trying to keep in mind on my social media, even my personal page. It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of whining or complaining, but what kind of community do you want to create with your social media? Decide what kind of vibe you want to have and then consciously create the voice and communications to support it.
Ok, homework time. What did you come up with? Post it in the comments and I’ll let you know what I think ;) To make it fair, I’ll re-write mine and post it in the comments, too.
People have an inborn need to categorize and label anything and everything.
We do this on a daily basis, without even being aware of this, and we do it for the most trivial things.
For instance, surfing the net, we see dozens of maybe hundreds of photos in a single day, and subconsciously we label them as we see them: “Nice macro shot, that’s a beautiful landscape shot, this guy does good portraits etc.”
But, every once in a while we see something that just shocks us out of this auto-labeling mode.
What do we do then, when there is no inner voice to speak for us, but we have to decide on our own about how to understand the thing we are seeing or experiencing?
Do we call that extravagant?
Is it conceptual art that produces such an effect?
Conceptual photography ideas seem to either never get enough recognition and end up packed in some other category, or they are seen as something beyond the everyday mundane, but are somehow still neglected in the long run.
Certainly, the most important thing for a conceptual photography is the abstract, but the priority for a conceptual photo is to express and emphasize a certain idea.
It is through these ideas that conceptual images gain meaning and earn the term ‘conceptual’, and it is through them that the artists express their emotions, or perhaps political statements, or even a social critique.
They are the tool projecting the very concept into the audience’s psyche, with the use of visual symbols that make a conceptual picture what it is.
But, conceptual photography isn’t always so obvious, as people might believe.
The same way a conceptual photographer shocks his audience, he can also employ a more subtle and ambiguous way of telling the story. The shock may even be greater, if not obvious from the start.
Similarly, some conceptual ideas are meant to be told loud and clear, so that everyone will understand, while others allow for a personal interpretation, and can mean different things to different people.
As you can imagine, conceptual photography is an elusive subject and has many more nuances, techniques, and methods for telling the story.
But, why try and explain something that a conceptual photography does in and of itself.
Just enjoy and try to learn everything the images bellow has to show you, and remember – one picture can do the work of a thousand words!
Before we start talking about conceptual photography
No artist in the World can be told or instructed in how to do their art. One of art’s main goals is to find your own way, your own approach.
This goes double for conceptual photography, but in general it is said that the hardest part is the beginning. After you get into it, you kind of get the hang of it. This article is precisely about helping you get through that beginning.
Conceptual photography is however not as elusive as one might think.
This article is designed to show you how a conceptual photographer thinks, in terms of some rough guide lines. These should help you open the door to the wonders of conceptual photography.
How to start building a concept
Conceptual photograph starts with an idea. It is good to know what you want to say or express with your photograph.
What kind of a statement will it be? A political, emotional, personal, social, etc..? It is a great thing to know where your inspiration comes from, but this knowledge may come to you at the beginning, or you might need to wait a bit to find it. Perhaps think about what motivates you.
Symbolism and the use of props for conceptual photos
This is the area in which you should avoid rules. There really is no general rule about symbolism or props.
Use what you got to photograph what you want. The more combinations and experiments you do, the better. Don’t be afraid to fail because it is better to fail than to do things in a familiar, cliché way.
Composition is your best tool
If you remember the beginning of this article, this is the first thing your audience will notice, and probably judge your style by.
By changing your composition, you are dictating the way people will perceive and react to your conceptual images. Clean backgrounds or heavily crowded photos?
Do you need a high technical skill to take conceptual photos?
Since the idea is the most important thing in a conceptual picture; conceptual photos rarely demand a high level of technical knowledge.
You are of course required to have a firm grasp on the basic stuff, like clear shots, lighting and shadow control, you must be very skilled in using manual focus and the f-stop. ISO understanding and exposure control is also a must. Skill is more important than tech.
Choose your own aesthetics
What is conceptual photography if not the liberty to create your own aesthetics.
If a certain thing or a symbol is commonly accepted as beauty, it is naturally more attractive to the audience, but in a conceptual picture good composition is more important than beauty. And thus you can share your own sense of aesthetics with the World, not just stick to things generally deemed beautiful.
Unleash your full imagination
Without imagination, no great idea would ever come to light. It’s the same with conceptual photography ideas, they require a leap of imagination, planning, creating…
Conceptual portraits are perhaps the most common amongst conceptual images you encounter daily.
But, even if a conceptual photographer is specialized in portraiture, he still needs an initial idea of what he wants and how he’s going to perform it.
A portrait of a person may sounds like something that doesn’t give you much room for ideas and concepts, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just that you need an idea first and then you proceed from that point.
However, conceptual photographers who prefer architecture or landscaping go so far in to the ideas behind t heir conceptual photos, that they sometimes literally depict a different reality.
Playing with ideas and experimenting with and image is what lead to some of the most magical photos ever.
And, if you haven’t so far, you will begin to notice how some of these photos never required some high technical standards, but they were only in essence a good example of a conceptual photographer thinking out side of the box, and asking himself: “What if?”
Conceptual photography tips:
- Learn to make storyboards and use them all the time
- It is imperative that you work with models that are also eager to work with you and possibly share the same vision. Reluctant people will do you more harm than good, even if they are friends trying to help you out.
- A dramatic emphasis on a character or emotion is best done by dramatic lighting, so learn how to benefit from it.
- Sometimes, the key to telling your story is simply the right atmosphere.
- IF you can’t find a model, be your own. This certainly has its own set of advantages and drawbacks.
- Movies, books, and other art you love can very well be the best source of inspiration. It’s probably what got you in to art in the first place.
- Since there is no limit to how far a conceptual photograph can go, you need to push yourself and your models out of your comfort zones.
- Be determined when choosing ‘the one’ image, and always uphold order in your workflow.
- Write down a few words or sentences about your conceptual photography project ideas. Why you chose that particular subject, explain what you tried to do, etc…
- Think outside the box!
Showcase of conceptual photos
Conceptual photography is a type of photography that illustrates an idea, a concept. The concept is both preconceived and, if successful, understandable in the completed image. It is most often seen in advertising and illustration where the picture may reiterate a headline or catchphrase that accompanies it.
The term conceptual photography used to describe a genre may refer to the use of photography in Conceptual Art or in contemporary art photography. In either case the term is not widely used or consistently applied.
In this article you will see 30 conceptual photography ideas that you will surely like thanks to the ingenuity of the photographers who took them.
Flying on the Rooftops
I am free
Dancing in the Dark
Stairways to Heaven
It’s Just a Game!
To erect a monument
The soul of a mustang
The Last Drop
First Chapter: Cast
The very freedom and nature of conceptual photography can be a great environment for you to hone your skills and practice taping into your inspirations. You can also quickly differentiate yourself from other artists, which is saying a lot! You need to be persistent, patient, driven, innovative, and you must have no fear.