Since March, I’ve been a fan of photographer Heather Perry’s work when I stumbled upon her gorgeous underwater paintings. I’ve always been drawn to water, and seeing how her life, career, and art were immersed (pun intended) in H2O was fascinating to me. So, I was thrilled to hear she would let me write a piece on her work. A few months later, she came back to us for help writing her bio, a project I was more than happy to take on.
I was surprised she wanted help, as Heather is an accomplished writer herself. However, I understand how daunting the task of writing about yourself can be when it needs to be both authentic and polished, professional and casual. I would hopefully be able to provide a fresh perspective and do it in her voice.
Step one in the bio-writing process is to fill out our questionnaire. She had already filled out a much more in-depth questionnaire for her rebrand, so I was able to get the whole picture of how her brand was changing and how she wanted to be presented to the world. However, I still needed some specifics about who she was as an artist and a person.
About 10 questions focused on her career, personality, artistic inspiration, credentials, and more. Then there are a few stylistic questions about the bio formatting and point of view. I also needed to know her primary goal: if there was only one thing she could communicate through this bio, what did it need to be?
I wanted it to be both authentic to who I am, while humbly promoting me as a photographer and creative team member.
Heather was more unsure about the stylistic choices, but she knew what she wanted to communicate. So, I whipped up a few different options utilizing different points of view and different tones of voice.
The first option was in the third person. Heather, from what I could tell, has a very warm personality. Someone that, within a few minutes of chatting, you feel comfortable around. As a person who is so skilled in the art of connecting with other people, I felt that a bio in the third person stunted that skill. It adds a middle-man (me) between the reader, and the artist, something I didn’t feel was necessary or ideal for Heather.
When I sent her the options, I gave her that caveat. While it was still a good option, I hoped she wouldn’t pick it.
The second option was my favorite. It was in the first person and touched on each aspect of her work. It was also more lovingly descriptive of her affinity for water, which I felt was a key factor in her work. I then made sure to discuss her similar affinity for connecting with others.
This love of connection and the water seem like two very different things, but I wanted to tie them together. I did that successfully in option 2 but wanted to write up a third option, just in case.
This third option was still in the first person but had a bit more of a blunter edge. I wasn’t sure if it meshed as well with her personality as the second, but I wanted to provide a more forward option that spoke less descriptively and more matter-of-fact.
There were elements I really liked in each of the samples, but ultimately the second one resonated with me the most. As I read it to myself I identified changes and additions that popped into my head and made those.
She, like me, liked the second option the best, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I could have polished up option 1 or 3, but I did feel like the second one best encapsulated her ethos and successfully balanced authenticity, humility, and self-promotion.
Basically, she gave me a near-finished bio into which I was able to just add things her foundation had inspired me to say. She’d done the heavy lifting and I got to add the final touches.
So, Heather went through the piece and added in the specific details it needed about her life and career. After a quick pass from me for punctuation and grammar, I was happy with it, and so was she.
It feels like me. Having someone else do it feels like permission to say the things I should say about myself and my work. I don’t know why I need that encouragement, but apparently, I do, and I’m so glad Wonderful Machine has been here to help me present myself in this way.