Something I get asked from time to time is how did I choose a name for TheFourthFocus so I thought I would share a little of the process I went through, the meaning behind the name and what you might consider when naming your own virtual photography page or social media profile.
Maintain a distinction between what sort of name suits a personal account and what better carries a brand
The right name is important for any brand, page, person or profile and choosing one, as anybody with more than one child may attest, can be incredibly difficult and even complicated.
For instance, my real name is Michael and that's fine, although it was chosen for me with little input on my part so for more personal and informal use, I prefer to shorten it to Mik. Of course, a lot of people shorten their names because after all, fewer syllables are easier to say and quicker to write, but even the particular spelling of my hypocorism carries some significance. Coming from a time when a lot of the video games I played included high score leader boards with only three character name entries, I chose a concise spelling of my shortened name rather than simply using my initials and it's this link to a favourite pastime that makes my name more personal to me.
When it comes to choosing a handle for your online presence, there is certainly a lot more scope for creativity but it's important to maintain a distinction between what sort of name suits a personal account and what better carries a brand. Almost universally my user name is MikLSP, a simple combination of my shortened real name and an acronym proclaiming my love for my partner, but in naming my virtual photography brand it had to be something completely different. While still aiming to be portrayed as an individual rather than a collective, I really wanted a name which conveyed what the brand was about rather than who was behind it.
Primarily, that meant choosing something which represented both the art as well as the video games used to create it and I compiled a broad list of ideas ranging from "Play.Curate.Share", an obvious take on the famous LittleBigPlanet tagline, to the Latin-derived "Ludum Captus", loosely meaning Game Capture before eventually settling on "TheFourthFocus". It's worth saying at this point that even if your first idea seems perfect, think of as many others as possible; at the very least they will validate that first idea and at best, improve upon it.
Virtual photography may be considered the latest way in which video games are breaking the fourth wall
The etymology of my eventual choice has several influences, some more obvious than others. For the artistic element, I wanted to include some terminology linked to cameras and "Focus" was an easy choice not only because it gives a clear connection to photography but it also infers my tendency to concentrate on details. "Fourth" meanwhile is partly a convenient reference to the fact that my current gaming platform is the PlayStation 4, but moreover it relates to the concept of the fourth wall - the invisible barrier between viewer and content - and how virtual photography may be considered the latest way in which video games are breaking the fourth wall with their imagery reaching well beyond the TV screen and into our lives. Finally, the overall feel of the name invokes David Lynch's iconic PlayStation 2 TV ad campaign "Welcome To The Third Place" (not The Third Space as PlayStation Europe unfortunately named their video). With this and the slight element of pleasing alliteration, my mind was set, I had found a name.
Of course, you could take a much simpler approach to your choice of a name and while it may seem very premeditated and highbrow to have a host of reasons that flesh out the reasoning behind it, most people will likely never know or even care and some of the best names are those which are simple, unique and memorable. Whatever you do settle on, it's great to have consistency across all platforms so before committing it is always worth checking the availability of social media handles and even potential internet domains. Above all, choose something that suits you and make it yours!
Thanks for reading and feel free to drop your name in the comments below, Mik