Photograph © Annie Leibovitz From Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990 – 2005
But that approach doesn’t work for everyone. Noted photographer Annie Leibovitz, whose recent work is currently the subject of a retrospective at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, originally intended to divide her work into commercial assignments for magazines and personal photography of family and friends and display these in separate sections within the exhibition. However, she ended up abandoning that plan and melded the works together, with pictures of her parents sitting alongside big-name Hollywood types. She argues in the notes for the show that the distinction would be meaningless:
I don’t have two lives. This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.
That distinction is of course sometimes harder to draw in a creative sphere than if (say) you work in a call centre. And if you truly enjoy your work, you’re likely to be less worried about the distinction. But no matter what job you do, you’ll have to make decisions about where the boundaries are.
Those issues have become particularly prominent in the social networking era. Will you post about your work on your Facebook profile? On Twitter? Will you comment on blogs? If your workplace enforces policies on those issues, do you find them acceptable?
But even if you’re happy with those issues, the question of where career and life blurs rarely disappears. How much overtime will you do? Will you check work email on holidays? Do you take enough holidays in the first place?
There’s no single answer to this dilemma: few people will probably feel their lives are as “seamless” as Leibovitz professes to be. But having some idea where you find the boundaries to be comfortable can lead to a more satisfying life. As ever, we welcome reader insights in how to draw those lines in the comments.