Go on vacation to be more productive.

 (©2011 Kathryn Wagner Photography and Wagner Media Works LLC)

I have taken a break from blogging over the past two weeks to recharge and refresh. During this time I got to thinking how important time off is for an individual’s productivity level. When you work as a freelancer  it is easy to fall into the trap of constantly working on projects which not only create a living for oneself, but you are also passionate about. Work/Life balance is equally as critical for the professional creative as it is for the corporate employee. The biggest difference in these perspectives is that the professional creative can take time off at their discretion – a luxury which few creatives take advantage of.  Time off is not only essential, it can be instrumental in the creative process as you give your brain and body space to come up with ideas and inspiration.

When is the last time you took time off? If you are thinking ‘that’s impossible, my business stops when I stop!’ you might want to consider the following questions regarding how you manage your business and personal productivity:

Do you have professionals in place to help you with certain aspects of you business? Lawyers, accountants, marketing managers, are all at the heart of what can save a professional creative time and money, not to mention allow oneself to play to their individual strengths. I chose to take a break during the U.S. national tax deadline. This did not affect my business in the least because I recognize the importance of having this done by a professional at the earliest possible convenience.

Do you manage your correspondence, social media streams and telephone contact at regular intervals? This not only aids in the ease which one might get away from work, but also is conducive to effective time management on a daily basis within the workplace.

Do you set goals regularly, and then strive to meet them? Goal setting probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when one thinks of time off, but proper goal setting is integral in measuring the personal progression you strive for in your creative career. If you do not feel as though you are progressing in your career how would you feel at liberty to get away and relax? Use tools to set yearly, quarterly, and weekly goals to hold yourself accountable and measure progress in your path to professional creative fulfillment.

On the Origin of Branding

“A brand name is more than a word. It is the beginning of a conversation.” Lexicon

“The word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse brandr meaning ‘to burn.’ It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (brand) onto their products.” A good example of this is the practice of burning one’s brand into cattle as an identifier. This mark made on each animal created a distinction in product from one rancher’s stock to the next. The better a rancher did on the cattle in meat markets the more important his mark, or his branding is to the consumer and in turn to the rancher. A wonderful example of a photograph which depicts this, is the iconic image created by Sam Abell of Montana cowboys branding cattle.

I have recently gone through a “re-branding” myself, in partnership with the wonderful people at Agency Access. We have revised the colors and font used in all of my correspondence and revised the mark which accompanies my photographic work. I have enjoyed the process and it has caused me to think deeply about how I wish to graphically represent the effort, time and expense that goes into my business. (For more on Agency Access please see the wonderful interview of Keith Gentile written by Rob Haggart on his blog A Photo Editor.)

Branding has become key to me because I wish to visually stand behind the creative work which I do.  I am grateful that I now communicate that stance clearly with a graphic that helps clients easily recognize my business as one of quality and professionalism.