Category Archives: Pontificating

Competitive Careerism

So here we go again, yet another ‘reality TV’ show starts that pits amateur cooks/musicians/renovators/whatever against each other to win the ultimate prize – the chance to turn their dreary life around by making their dream hobby into a wonderful, exciting career.

The stories are all the same: “I’ve worked my whole life in some terrible job while my real passion was to do something else and for some reason I’ve never been able to make my dream into reality.” Over the course of the series the competitors are pitted against each other in a set of increasingly ridiculous, high pressure situations to determine who is the best and who wins their dream. And it works, audiences love it, the winner is paraded across the TV networks, social and print media flaunting their achievement and joy of reaching the nirvana of turning a hobby into a paying career.

If you are a competitive person who strives to continually improve then you and I are exactly alike. After a while it becomes easy to convince yourself that everyone with a creative outlet must strive to make a career out of it, if you don’t then you are not maximising the satisfaction that you could achieve. This is certainly a view that I held for some time and it has taken a long time to understand and become comfortable with the role that photography plays in my life. Photography is my hobby, not my career. I have a career. I have a good one, actually, it’s a great career. My career has helped me buy all the photography gear I need, and taken me to places where I can practice my hobby.

Red Rock Canyon, NV. 2014-0518

Red Rock Canyon, NV. 2014-0518

This hobby has given back to my career too. There are few images taken of my line of work and I’ve been able to produce some high quality imagery that has been used in publications, web sites, marketing and they even adorn the walls of the offices occupied by some of the most senior members of the organisation I work for. Another way that this hobby gives back to my career is that that it makes me feel better, indulging in a creative passion has helped me through some very difficult and stressful periods and allowed me to perform much better at work.

What is wrong with this? It’s taken a while to be comfortable with the balance between career and hobby and to stop pretending that my photography is any more than it really is. With work comes deadlines, long hours, disagreements, conflict and competition for promotions and other career opportunities. If my hobby became my career, would all of these apply to my hobby? They most certainly would. Would this really enhance the satisfaction I get from photography? Would add more pressures to my life? Would it take away the satisfaction that I currently get from photography? Would it harm my career? Would that in turn harm my photography?

If my hobby became my career, what would be my hobby?


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