Double lives and photography

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by tron_, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    Does anybody here feel as though they are leading double lives?

    Let me explain. My "official" job is as an engineer, and by day I come across as a somewhat eccentric but well-adjusted person. At work I am relatively private about my personal life but today a coworker and I got onto the topic of hobbies and I spilled the beans on my photography passion.

    When I told him, he was extremely surprised. I think his exact words were "I never expected you to be a photographer" (although I'm not sure what that means haha).

    This got me to thinking; it made me feel as though I am part Jekyll and part Hyde. Espicially since there is a growing gap between the art and technological world. Walking down the street most people wouldn't suspect anything, unless they saw me carrying around my camera, because during the day I come across as a normal guy.

    But by night I turn into a bit of a Hyde spending hours developing, editing, reading about photography, watching photography documentaries and tutorials, going to galleries, attending lectures, etc. And I've noticed a big difference between how I conduct myself among professional colleagues and people I meet in the art world.

    For the amateurs and hobbyists on this forum, do you guys feel the same way? I almost feel like any passion pursued outside someone's normal, professional life might lend them to feel as though they are living life with split personalities.
     
  2. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    Also, I'm not crazy (I don't think) :tongue:
     
  3. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Tron, I don't think you are crazy, as I think most people have some creative urge that manifests itself in something outside what they may do for a living. Sometimes you can mix and talk to a person for years and then at the mention of a certain topic they go off on one. Also, those who do photography for a living often do a completely different form of photography in their spare time. You are not crazy, just normal.
     
  4. jglass

    jglass Subscriber

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    No, you're not crazy . . . unless I am too!

    I'm a lawyer by day and a photography freak by night. Sometimes I even find time to get out of work and go to the darkroom before the sun sets. My job feeds my family. My photography feeds my soul. I can't imagine anyone feeling so fulfilled by lawyering or engineering or most any other job, that they don't need a creative outlet. I can't even imagine a pro photographer not needing an area of creativity where they are in complete charge of what is made. I'm very glad I'm not a pro photographer, with clients to tell me what they want my work to look like!

    But lets face it, the world is in fact full of muggles who don't want or need a creative outlet. Billions of people probably do their jobs or their housework and then retire to the tube to veg out without making anything ever.

    I almost wish I was one of those folks, sometimes: cured of this urge to wander the night looking for new blood!
     
  5. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    It's normal. My work (Internet and computers) is mostly devoid of nature, history, or spiritual things. I like my work and do it well, but hobbies can exercise the other half of my brain. They can also provide fresh air, exercise, and friends that I wouldn't get at work.
     
  6. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Another one here. I work in IT (networking and information security) during the day and photography the rest of the time.
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Well, I actually feel like I have triple personalities...

    1. Work/school personality. I work in marketing for a large corporation, and it's a pretty rigid and kind of formulated existence. Driven by goals partially set by others, and in the interest of the shareholders or the grander interest.
    2. Photography - where my photography glasses and brain are always engaged to soak up information or something I can learn from. What I learn benefits me, and there are no rules to how I think or explore. Party time!
    3. Family personality - where I let the guard down, have fun, and let go of both my photography and work/school brain, and just focus on enjoying life (or being responsible with it).

    I think it's normal for people to have this type of role play living at work and in school, while at home with family, or working our passions, we can let our personalities run more free to balance out the rigor at work.
     
  8. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    Most of my coworkers know I take pictures, and understand that I will provide a home for an unwanted film camera. It doesn't get discussed much. I realize that when I acquire a "new" old camera, that telling them about it is noting more than an exercise in frustration for both of us. I just show them a picture I think they will like, now and then. It would be nice to have another employee to talk photography with.
     
  9. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    Most people at my job aren't really surprised by any interests or hobbies I have, even if they deviate from the IT work I do. Perhaps they don't pigeon-hole others, or maybe they just think I'm weird so anything goes. We are not a close bunch, but we don't always talk "shop," so each knows the others have interests outside of our careers.
     
  10. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    When I was working, everyone knew I did photography outside work (and frequently at work, though not aesthetically pleasing stuff there). It was a good balance for being immersed in microscopes, Infrared spectrometers, gas chromatographs, and crime scenes. Since leaving, I happened to talk with someone I never got along with at work (we were not in the same unit, he's a trooper, I was a civilian) and found that we had a lot in common as he uses Speed and Crown graphics outside work. I never pegged him as a film shooter, but he was. And he never knew I was into larger formats. It's actually a minor miracle that we had a nice conversation about it because we nearly came to blows on many occasions at work.
     
  11. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    Really great replies so far in this thread, I love this section of the board because it always generates great discussion.

    Do you guys think that having this "double" (or even triple in Thomas's case) life is something that can effect us on a deeper psychological level?
     
  12. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

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    Yes, and I think that's a good thing. I too am an engineer (software) and photography gets me away from computerized stuff. I also coach my daughters soccer team and that three way pull really leads to deeply split personalities.

    At least 12 and 13 years olds don't permit you to get old.
     
  13. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I think that "double life" feeling is normal for people who have an avocation. Maybe it's more noticeable for people who actually like their day jobs, though---if your job is an unpleasant "just a job" thing, you likely won't feel very torn between it and your "real" life.

    The two used to be more integrated for me, when I was travelling for work with a consistent group of people. There were a lot of pretty serious travel photographers in that group, though not very much use of film. (Admittedly, digital was a real convenience in that everyone could share their photos at the end of the meeting---people used to drop them on the meeting file server so that anyone who wanted to could download a copy of the whole pile. It was fun and would have been impractical with film.)

    -NT
     
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  15. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    We spend so much time at work that it does shape us; there's no escaping it.

    In the same way I think that our endeavors in the arts and interests shape us; how can they not? When you deeply immerse yourself in something, it has a profound effect on you, how you see the world and act in it. I call my photography my 'insanity asylum', for two reasons: there is a lot about the world that is broken, with respect to humanity versus the greedy money grabbers, but it's also to disconnect and escape from the constraints of the work place.

    Now, when you immerse in both your work world, and your free thinking space of the arts, I believe the mix is good on a psychological level because at least I get in touch with different parts of my brain. Work is very structured and a logical place, filled with ups and downs in results and frustration - but always a role play. Nothing I do at work, or get exposed to at work, I take personally. But it's there in the subconscious, because we spend so much of our living hours there. This is good for me, because I'm a bit of a scatter brain, and that shows heavily in my photography, which is where I basically let the ideas and concepts rip freely, to come out and rear themselves in ugly and beautiful ways. It is a much more sensory type of existence, feeling my way, laying tone in the prints to accentuate what I feel.

    So, the summary psychological effect is that I'm able to explore both my logical and structured brain, and the intuitive and emotional one.
     
  16. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I think the division between what we do "all day" and whatever other interests or passions we have is a product of the work-a-day culture. We identify with our "full time" pursuits. So what do you think someone like Leonardo said he was when asked what he "did." Was he an artist, scientist, inventor, anatomist? Perhaps all of us who have multiple passions are just renaissance people.
     
  17. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    For many (most?) of us, this is the one area where we're not bound by the expectations of others. Whether it's clients, bosses, co-workers, family, etc., it often seems our lives (and our time) belong to others. When we're doing photography, our only obligation is to satisfy ourselves.
    We should consider ourselves fortunate to lead these "double lives" (triple is a bit much, Thomas... :wink:). I know far too many people without much in the way of outside interests. You know the feeling you get when you take a print off the drying rack and think, "Wow... I can't believe I made this"? 99% of the world never experiences that moment. Embrace your separate lives!
     
  18. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

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    I agree entirely. Well said. Alex.
     
  19. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    People tend to define themselves to themselves by what they love doing, and who they really are, not what they have to do to make a living.
     
  20. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I was in an exhibition a few years back, while I was still working (retired, now, thanks), and several people from my office actually came to the opening reception. To one particular individual for whom our job was HIS defining task, I remarked that "this (photography) is why it will not say 'auditor' on my tombstone."
     
  21. MDR

    MDR Member

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    I work with photography and film in my pro life but stil lead another photographic live when I do my personal work. I even wear a cape on my photographic outings ok it's a Darkcloth.
     
  22. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    This is often wishful thinking. A man is defined by his job. Often (not always) much of a man's self worth comes from his job. This is probably more so when he doesn't have hobbies, a muggle as someone has said. I've seen people get severely depressed or stressed by the process of changing careers or losing a fairly boring job.

    Most of the people I know at the grocery store or walmart are apt to be people who know me because of my computer work. (I used to advertise on local TV by being part of a show). How other people define you does have influence as well.
     
  23. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    Mine goes the other way. I have been nothing but a photographer my whole life 24-61. Last year I decided to do something (anything) different part time. I took a job selling artisan meat products in local farmer's markets on the weekends. It is unlike anything I have ever done before and causes me (normally a recluse and darkroom rat) to stand in crowded markets and talk all day to people about the meat product. All the people who know me in the markets consider me the "Salami guy". Most people assume I own the meat company since I am an old man selling in the market. No one at all suspects that most my time is spent thinking about visual art.
    The other day I asked the goofy lady who sells balloons at the markets if she does anything else in life. Yes... she is a photographer and a documentary film maker. Never would have thought it.
    Dennis
     
  24. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    People usually know me as an ancient photographer, not as a retired Navy communications technician and one-time graphics arts production worker and substitute rural mail carrier. That Navy career was inspiring for a budding photographer, with great locales and opportunities to buy top equipment at affordable prices.
     
  25. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    Great quote at the end of that reply. Someone said earlier (forgive me for not giving proper credit) that much of a mans self worth comes from his job. Although that may be true, I feel as though that is looking through the eyes of others. When looking introspectively I believe self worth comes from the happiness derived from producing quality work (although I lose the term "quality work" loosely when talking about myself :whistling:)
     
  26. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    A minister once commented he'd heard a lot of deathbed comments and last words and never once has he heard anyone say, "I wish I had spent more time at the office."

    I don't define myself in the slightest by my job, which is just something I have to do to pay the bills and be able to afford to do the things I want that give my life meaning. My profession? "Eh, it's indoor work with no heavy lifting." :wink: