The current crisis has already thrown up a list of winners in the retail game. Quids in for home deliveries, local produce providers, homeschooling resources, etc who have found opportunities in challenging conditions. Sadly, a very long list of losers in almost every other type of game. Shops, restaurants, hotels and sadly photographers are in this group too. Retail was already in a dark place for the high street of course but even that situation was throwing up some interesting new directions for making it work with the right model. Brexit also showed us that within that crisis for many there was an opportunity for the right product or service. Opportunities in challenging conditions throw up some interesting solutions. A Greggs vegan sausage roll anyone?
The other most recent example is the 2008 economic crash. This showed a financial system flawed and in need of vital support. So many losers in this situation. However, the vacuum created as a result was eventually flooded by a creative class not limited to the arts and supercharged by digital. Across verticals, a new economy emerged. Led by big digital and which now leads our consumer habits. It is this digital economy which supports our ability to stay home and ride out a lockdown. Our challenge now is to support the gig economy.
For the photographer, the challenge is no different. The ability to streamline, pivot and perhaps close down temporarily, all options which need to be explored. As with all the crisis management and business planning advice, it is crucial to remain positive. Everyone is facing similar challenges. How we react and create solutions is vital.
The digital picture
Your business may rely on events, such as weddings or shooting portraits. Even so, there will still be a large digital footprint to all this work. It may be that your business is entirely digital as a service providing photography products for customer’s photo products.
The digital opportunity to provide a stream of income that does not rely on you physically being somewhere and taking pictures has to now be explored. Look at past work. Re-contact all those old ‘physical’ clients. See about upgrading, re-invigorating or re-imagining their photography that has been done before. Present them options in a new light.
Take the time to re-examine your e-commerce channels and compare to the wider market. What channels are working and also working for other businesses? Can you take advantage of and re-imagine some of your products to create more value?
With time on our hands, it may just be the opportunity to get creative and focus on a side hustle to the business. A creative itch to scratch? A long-held desire to pivot the business in a new direction?
Social media can be a potential revenue stream. This takes time to build an identity and ideas that really capture people’s attention. Tik Tok is one such platform which is new and in its relative infancy, so there is an opportunity to create a channel on photography, hopefully using existing stock and maybe highlighting other work as a way of building expertise. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Now is a perfect time to spend time on the website you have previously neglected. Does it need a well overdue refresh? Do you need to spend some of your unexpected free time now to dedicate to actually designing and building it from scratch? Do you indeed have a site in the first place?
Books and old formats
In the time of recession, books tend to perform reassuringly well so is there a way to create a format that can lean on this trend?
People are spending time locked at home and maybe thinking of looking at all those old photos in the attic, digging them out and needing a modern twist. Can you provide a service to bring these photos into a new light?
Like other recession moments, the opportunities in challenging conditions may not be obvious right at this moment but trends will emerge and there’s no reason to think your idea is not one of those. Fast forward a few months and you may well be taking advantages of those opportunities in challenging conditions for photographers.