I’ve always assumed that Clarke and Kubrick picked names that would sound as if they fit in with the Mercury Seven - Carpenter, Cooper, Glenn, Grissom, Schirra, Shepard, and Slayton. They needed something that sounded like a real astronaut’s name, and in the mid-1960s that meant an Anglo-Saxon name, probably with two syllables. Furthermore I suspect they both acknowledged that Arthur C Clarke was no good with natural-sounding names. There’s a fine art to creating natural-sounding names and Clarke wasn’t very good at it. Isaac Asimov had the same problem.
Bowman might have struck them as appropriate given the Biblical connotations of Carpenter and Shepard. It’s one of those old, named-after-an-ancient-profession Anglo-Saxon surnames, like Smith, Fletcher, or indeed Cooper. NASA was full of white Anglo-Saxons in the 1960s and 2001 is essentially a modernist white Anglo-Saxon dream of the future, made by people who believed on a subconscious level that modernism and Anglo-Saxon whiteness would dominate the world at least until the end of the century if not forever.
As for Kubrick’s photographic background, I have again always assumed that it did him well at first - his early films came in on time and on budget, and even when he was given much larger budgets for Spartacus and 2001 the end results had all the money up on the screen and made a profit. The problem is that over time the opportunity to hone things to perfection in the studio overwhelmed his better judgement, which is why his work rate slowed down and he ended up micro-managing his cast. By the end of his career he was imitating himself.