The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Benj Haisch: Benj Haisch, 30, Wedding Photographer, Self
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
BH: My two main hobbies outside of professional photography are music and hiking. Usually my life involves a good combination of the three. I’ll often drive for a couple of hours blasting music and enjoying the scenery on the way to a spot, then hike around for a few hours either with a friend or with some headphones. It’s such a refreshing experience for me, getting out away from cell service, where I can see the incredible beauty we have in nature and have good conversations on the trail or some time of introspection.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
BH: For sure. A lot of the things in photography that I started doing for fun have all slowly become part of my professional work for the most part, so it’s been hard to separate the two in some ways. I’ll often just force myself into situations that are outside of my comfort zone and that stuff becomes my personal work. Things like photographing the Seattle Seahawks or a humanitarian effort in Nicaragua. I’ve also tried to stay away from shooting DSLRs in my personal work and leaving those to be my “work” cameras. Lots of playing with film or smaller rangefinder cameras that slow down the process.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
BH: Man, as a photographer, I often feel more creative when my surroundings are inspiring, which is from the hours right before and right after sunrise/sunset. I’m MUCH more productive in the morning than in the evenings. I also feel most creative when I’m more limited. If I want to make some good photos for personal work, I’ll often just grab one camera and one lens and go out with only that one option.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
BH: The biggest thing I’m trying to do creatively is going to be in smaller steps. I remember when I first started photography it felt like I was always learning and growing at a crazy fast rate without too much work. Now it feels like my goals are a lot smaller and a lot more difficult. Honestly though, my biggest thing is to continue to refine my style. That Ira Glass interview on storytelling sums up those feelings pretty well for me. I’m still trying to bridge the gap between what my mind wants to create and what is still coming out in my work.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
BH: Whenever this topic comes up I always feel like such a failure as an artist because I don’t have one set body of work that I’m focusing on. My projects are much more sporadic and unplanned, but I guess that’s what I love. My only ongoing project has been a larger commitment to document my daily life better, especially now that we’re expecting our son in May. I’ve been super inspired by the work of Nate Kaiser [theimageisfound] in that regard.
TCU: What scares you?
BH: Failure. I’m so bad with taking risks, even as an artist. I always wait until I feel like something is “safe” for me. That provides security, but also holds me back from doing what I feel like I should be sometimes.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
BH: The longer I’m a photographer, the more I realize that “success” usually doesn’t have nearly as much to do with the photography industry as it has to do with me personally. I’ve been driven with ambitions, but my goals have become more using this career as a way to leverage time with my family and living a life that I want to. Sure, I’d love to win some awards, but if that means that my relationship with my wife and future kids suffers, how would that be worth it?! I’ve already put so much into this job at the expense of some family and friends and am only now finally trying to make the time to repair some of those relationships. Being a full-time self-employed creative professional can be life-sucking if you let it.