By Wayne Cosshall
Some recent discussions on various LinkedIn, FaceBook and Yahoo groups and forums got me thinking about the role that your frame of mind can have on your photography.
We live in challenging times. Economic problems abound and rapid and continuing technological change has made everything seem uncertain, unsettled, and risky.
Many trends in the photography business are beyond our direct control, including rising competition and undercutting of prices by amateurs, technological threats to traditional practices, and the disappearance of existing markets. We even face increased competition from overseas.
In dealing with any of these things, we can either experience fear or a sense of opportunity. We may not be able to directly control or influence the situation, but we can control our reactions and thinking.
Times of change create opportunities because existing businesses that once seemed to have an overwhelming advantage in terms of established reputations and market share can become vulnerable. Photography studios that were successful in the business environment of the past may be unable to change or adapt quickly enough to compete in the changed situations.
Now if you are already an established business, you can resist change for as long as possible and attempt to keep doing the same thing as before. But it might be wiser to embrace the changing situation and see it as an opportunity to expand your business. You can change the type of business you do and refresh your enthusiasm.
For those without the baggage of existing success, circumstances clearly favor a positive approach to the change. Change levels the playing field for those with a positive attitude.
So what does this mean for your photography business?
Well, it means that now is the perfect time to try new things, to move into new areas and to explore new processes and equipment.
The tough economic times mean that equipment and software is under price pressure and good deals abound. Likewise travel and accommodations are cheaper than in a long time. This can present opportunities.
It means that now is the time to be courageous and push your boundaries way out there and see just what is possible. Even in your existing fields of photography, the more dominant competitors will be under greater pressure than you are, granting you an opportunity to advance.
Now is the time to embrace all the possibilities that computers combined with cameras offer. Strive to create strong, unique images that give you an unmistakable presence in the market. This may mean creating a wider range of products, being more adaptable in your business, or simply pushing your existing work to new levels.
The starting point is to do a real audit of your existing business and photography. With real honesty, attempt to answer the following questions:
- What parts of your business are currently working well?
- What parts are not working so well, but seem to offer some potential?
- What parts of your current work do you really enjoy?
- Which parts of your work do you not enjoy?
- What types of work have you always wanted to try but never have?
- Do you have any wild ideas regarding work or business ideas?
Using the answers to these questions, do a careful evaluation of the costs, benefits, potential, and risks of pursuing new directions. Determine which areas of your existing business you can drop so you will have more time to work on those areas that can be more rewarding.
Of course we shouldn’t just do the above exercise during times of change. We should regularly take stock of our business and creative interests. But in times of stress it is particularly important to do this.
Give it a go, spend some time doing research on new technology ideas, and see what comes out of it. Revise your business plan and go from there.