Something I get asked from time to time is how did I choose a name for TheFourthFocus so here is a little insight into 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 is simply 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 remaining an individual creator rather than part of a collective, I wanted avoid a name that was too much about who was behind the brand, instead trying to come up with something that better conveyed what the brand was about.
Primarily, that meant choosing something which represented both the art of virtual photography as well as the video games it uses 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" that loosely means Game Capture before eventually settling on "TheFourthFocus". It's worth saying at this point that even if your first idea seems perfect, try to think of as many others as possible; at the very least they will validate that first idea and at best might improve upon it.
Virtual photography may be considered the latest way in which video games are breaking the fourth wall...
In the end, my chosen name actually has quite a few influences, some of which are more obvious than others. For the artistic element, I wanted to include something linked to the terminology of photography and so "Focus" was an easy choice. Not only does it have that clear connection to using a camera, but it is also a little bit of a personal reference to my own tendency to concentrate on the finer details of things, perhaps too much at times.
Meanwhile, "Fourth" is partly a convenient nod to the fact that my main gaming platform at the time was the PlayStation 4, but mainly it relates to the concept of the fourth wall. As the invisible barrier between viewer and content, it seems great to think of how virtual photography may be considered the latest way in which video games are breaking the fourth wall as their imagery reaches well beyond the TV screen and into our lives.
With a couple of words in place, 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 feeling of alignment with an all-time favourite piece of marketing 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 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