Manager-Photographer: How compatible (if at all)?

No, this is not going to be an article on match making; not trying to gauge whether a manager and a photographer can be in a romantic relationship together. Incidentally, it is a moot point, since everyone knows that a photographer has at least one mistress (the camera) and its presence is non-negotiable;)

And no, it is not going to be a Left brain – Right brain debate, although it can be argued that brain side dominance has something to do with one’s choice of profession or hobby.

What I am concerned here with is the possibility of dual roles existing within one person, especially when these two roles are seemingly at opposite sides of the spectrum; one is an artist and the other a technocrat. (on the other hand, the definition of a technocrat is “master of an art”… man this is getting weird…)

I identify as a photographer and at the same time a manager. I have been into photogaphy for 40 years now and I have been earning a living as a manager for over 25. So I could argue that I can legitimately identify as either, with enough mileage behind me to know what it entails to be one.

On its face, the issue is easy: the two are incompatible, or at least not as compatible as two identities in the artstic spectrum. An artist is an artist and a manager is a manager, right? A photographer is someone who sees the world a certain way and by taking out all the unnecessary noise, he focuses on the essential, that which can tell the story as seen be his eyes. A manager deals in a rather concrete world of rules and problems that need to be resolved within certain constraints. Different beasts, one might say. Not really, is my educated response!

As a photographer, I am always trying to see the world around me in a way that brings out patterns, details, different points of view; dissecting, adding and mostly subtracting in order to arrive to a version of what is in front of my camera that coincides with what I have in my mind. Essentially I am given a set of data and several types of constraints and I am to arrive to an optimal (visual and story telling) result.

As a manager, I am faced with situations that have to be transformed or resolved into something that makes more business sense and coincides with my vision about the company. Essentially I am given a set of data and several types of constraints and I am to arrive to an optimal (business) result.

Oh, wait a moment! Isn’t that the same? Well, I guess it is! So much for incompatibilty then! Actually, what I found time and again is that my business perspective helps my photography and vice versa. It doesn’t happen on an entirely conscious level, but it is most definitely there. But is this even unique?

I think it could be commonplace. We all have multiple identities since we are all multi-faceted perosnalities. Somehow these identities co-exist within the same body and mind; it is how we use them, i.e. whether we switch off one when another is working, that could actually make a difference. If I see my business side as a distraction to my photography, synergies between the two may never realize; if, on the contrary, I see one as potentially complementing the other, beautiful and interesting synergies are most likely to occur.

So, expanding the subject, I believe that it is not that the managerial and photography perspective / identity are at the core of the question, although I believe that these two are nicely complementing each other. I maintain that blending our multiple identities into our one personality is likely to work wonders for all constituent parts of our lives.

There, I said it. Now I can go back to being a managing photographer. Or a photographing manager. Or both. Or neither. Oh, I don’t know…;)