A few weeks ago, author and blogger Donald Miler, wrote a great post about “The Single Most Powerful Question You Can Ask…What if?” He postulates that whenever a novel (or life, he later adds) starts to drag, “the writer simply has to ask this question, and suddenly life gets exciting again.”
My question would have to do with the benefits anonymity would add to my life. What if I were able to wipe my name from Google search engines. Google Gary S. Chapman and you would get nothing more than, “Do you mean Gary Chapman, Amy Grant’s ex-husband or Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages?”
I can only imagine the freedom that would come with being anonymous as a photographer. A Google search would not align my name with the persecuted in some hard-to-get-into countries or with those denied basic rights in another. It would be less likely that I would be considered “objectionable” and my visa application slammed with “DENIED” when I try to return.
Maybe even more importantly, I would no longer have to hide behind the curtain like the Wizard of OZ, where I have to hype and market myself as a photographer along the razor thin edge of hyperbole and truth. I would never be tempted to make myself sound more important or successful than I am. Marketing my name would then bow to the actual telling of stories through photos, videos and words. The subject would then hold the reader’s attention solely on the merit of how well the story is told.
As an independent photographer, name recognition and branding are the mantras of getting more work. I NEED non-profits and NGOs to remember my name as they decide who they want to tell their visual story. But, building that recognition comes at a cost. It takes time, money and emotional effort to promote. Even as I write the word “promote,” something inside of me churns. I find it difficult to promote, elevate and advance my own name. To me it seems smarmy and not much more noble than a dishonest used car salesperson.
I do, however, feel totally at peace promoting others, their story, their cause, and their needs from a position of anonymity. Until that day comes…just remember…Gary S. Chapman is a humanitarian photographer looking to tell your stories! Hire me!
See Donald’s original post HERE.