What do you do when a technological innovation is brewing that’s seemingly unrelated to digital imaging skills? For example, faster and cheaper broadband access and 5MP camera phones. When with a click of the Send button, it’s super-fast and cheap to share what you’ve shot– with anyone who cares to look–you can see that storm cloud of UGC (user-generated content) for marketing images is not far behind.
With the winds blowing strong from both of those directions, how does a photographer avoid capsizing their career? Analyze the horizon. Learn from those who are adept at reading the ‘weather.’ Get expert advice. Learn to predict and anticipate what tack will be needed to change your approach. For example analyze what you’re doing now that could be expanded into a viable niche or new service offering.
By making adjustments in what they’re offering, photographers can pull away from the pack of pro-sumers whose Flickr-minded image-pricing is continuing to erode the perceived value of the skills possessed by professional photographers the world over.
Reading the horizon means asking yourself: “What is it that I can do that can’t be possibly ever be done by an amateur with a 10MP pocket camera?” If you can’t answer that, it’s like trying to sail toward your destination without knowing which way the wind is blowing.
When you learn to scan the horizon for the multiple aspects of technology–not just imaging tech– that can affect your photo world, you will be ready to survive the next big storm of disruptive technology. The most important skill sailors and photographers can have is to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. As on the sea, hot air alone (i.e. whining about the changes) doesn’t get you where you want to go; actions must be taken to harness that power. If you’re flexible and willing to learn new business skills, you’ll soon discover you can still happily and safely arrive at your destination.
Remember….it’s not the ship that gets the sailor safely to the shore. Nor is it the equipment that makes a photographer; it’s the eyes, the intuition, and the willingness to change course, that get both to safe harbor.
Smooth sailing, oh, talented sailors!