Hi Zack. I've been a professional photographer for about 6 years now and there's one thing I've never figured out how to do. It seems like everyone has "firstname lastname Photography," and we attach a lot of our professional success to our personal brand. How do you separate your professional life from your personal life? How can we keep professional failures from feeling personal when our business is our name?
I have had a similar question come up before. My site used to be “usedfilm” and that was on all of my branding. Then I switched to “Zack Arias”. You can find that answer here.
As to your question about separating professional and personal life and how to keep failures from your professional life from feeling personal…
This is the way I see it. I am what I do and what I do is a big part of who I am. I’m Zack Arias. I’m a photographer. And a husband. And a dad. I don’t have a job I go do and then come home from it. Photography weaves in and out of my life morning, noon, and night. My wife and my kids are part of my business. They weave in and out of my studio morning, noon, and night. I try to find separation between what I do and who I am.
When I had to leave photography for a couple of years it was really difficult to separate myself from being a photographer. It was my main “identity” as a person so to speak. I had to come to grips with who I was as Zack Arias aside from taking pictures. It was a tough process to go through. I emerged from those murky waters as… me. I’m me if I take photos or not. Photography isn’t my main identity. It’s part of it. A major part of it. But it isn’t everything. Much of who I am is a personal thing.
Photography, to me, is personal. I’m not running a basic portrait business where I shoot photos to Olan Mill standards. I don’t look at photography as a business. I look at it as my craft. My life work. My art. My expression. My visual voice in the world. It’s me. It’s personal. It’s not spread sheets and P&L statements. Give me 10 billion dollars in my bank account today and guess what I’m going to do tomorrow? I’m going to shoot pictures. Take every dime I have from me and guess what I’m going to do? Shoot pictures. It’s what I’ll do until I kill over dead. I’m not shooting photos until something “better” comes along. This is the best thing I can do with my life aside from being a husband and father.
Professional failures are personal failures. When I have personal failures they effect my professional life. Same goes for things that I do well and are successful. My ups and downs in life weave through my life and my photography in equal amounts. That’s just how it is. I’m not going to even try to change that. I am me. I am what I do. It’s all a big cocktail of happiness, joy, frustration, and depression.
Think of your life like a big oak tree. You have your main trunk rising out of the soil and then a set of major branches leading off of that. You are the tree as a whole but you can look at the major branches as your personal life and work life. All leading from the same root system.
Whoa! Got out of this one without using a car analogy! :)