I’ve never been told to Get a Life. But it’s good advice and surely applies to image makers in a radically changed and visually demanding world. What would have been ridiculous a decade ago, for instance the almost immediate deadline for image delivery, is common. Then, add the complexity of multiple, simultaneous professional directions & projects, throw in airports, hotel check-ins, rental car drama, endless toll-roads, arrival & immediate trips to see clients (don’t forget photographing/filming them), followed by a sudden departure only to repeat the cycle the following week…does this sound about right? Life can start to feel generic.
The good news is this new pace of life is becoming more efficient (though it certainly won’t be ending). Would it be nice to get back to simpler times, for instance, the passing of time while film was being processed that forced patience upon us? You bet, but it’s not going to happen.
From one perspective, the ultimate rat race could be looked at as punishment, and maybe it is, but we at least can choose how fast & often we want to burnout – besides, wouldn’t real punishment be a 40-hour shift trapped in a gray-walled cubicle?
But there’s another facet on this type of gem. An eternity ago, when newspaper work was plentiful, I looked at my long hours of work as being hypersocial. New people, new scenarios appearing multiple times a day. The opportunity to tell their stories was tremendous. But I needed an escape from the Too Much Information syndrome. Whether the stories I relayed were good/bad/exciting, it didn’t matter. The time I spent alone and decompressing was extremely important. Unless you had friends who were in the business, any attempt at relating the day’s experiences to others (therapy!) was fruitless.
Is it punishment or a fascinating look at the world most never experience? Maybe it’s a little of both. So what do we do about it? Writing is a one way to reset yourself. So is taking up a sport like combat soccer (I learned that from my Army friends stationed in Germany). Regardless of your method of therapy, just make sure you have one. I happen to like the idea of surrounding myself with like-minded professionals and building a team that you truly enjoy working with, and if you do so, all will be well.
Previously published on ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog.
John Welsh is currently the ASMP Philadelphia Chapter President and also becoming quite adept at dealing with the chaos and new ways of the photography business.