Pivoting for Success: Adapting to Industry Changes in Photography

By Kyle Wilson

"And you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times, they are a-changin'"
Bob Dylan

Change is a constant in the photography industry. Trends come and go and technology advances faster than shadows change at sunset. Our interests grow, we seek new challenges, or experience burnout. We start families, move cities, and exist in a world where everything is getting more and more expensive.

Change of any kind has a direct impact on photographers' careers. How we respond—seeing it either as an obstacle or a stepping stone—shapes our path in the industry. 

To remain successful, photographers must adapt. 

Or, as Bob put it, start swimmin’.

Mastering Change: The Art Of The Pivot

We’re not talking about that infamous episode of Friends (although a well-executed pivot would have saved the situation).

Pivoting is about making the right changes with finesse and a strategy. That could mean exploring new business models and niche markets and embracing cutting-edge technologies like AI. It could mean shifting from working as a local photographer to travel photography. It could mean redefining your target market, bringing on second shooters, or working in a different style of photography.

The key to pivoting is understanding how your environment is changing and adapting to stay current. 

To pivot successfully, you have to be pliable while staying true to yourself, stay connected with your peers, and embrace technological advancement. 

Thriving Through Adaptability

“A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind.” - Lao Tzu

Many changes are out of your control - costs rise, technology advances, and clients want different things. To remain successful, you must be flexible in redefining your goals and implementing changes to meet current market demands.

You may have to lower your price point if you’re moving to a new area or trying out a different form of photography. You might have to take whatever work you can get, which is jarring if you are used to having it your way. If you have been shooting weddings for 20 years, you have to understand generational differences to know what younger people expect and what’s trending.

By embracing adaptability as a strategy, you can maintain your direction and ensure that each pivot adapts to and anticipates the evolving nature of photography. 

Align With Your Core Values

Any changes you make need to align with your core values to ensure your work remains authentic and your vision remains intact. This serves to solidify your reputation and continue to attract clients you want to work with. Changes made with integrity will keep your passion for your work alive.

For instance, if you highly value personal client relationships, pivoting towards high-volume work probably won't work because it would violate your values. Instead, focus on areas where engaging with your customers is enhanced. This could look like adjusting the services you offer, such as adding video or other new skills.

Sticking to your core values preserves the integrity of your work and fosters connections with clients.

Network and Learn

Your peer network is invaluable for staying up-to-date with industry changes. Assess what they do with an inquisitive mindset, not judgmental. Your competitors are sources of inspiration and knowledge. 

Engage actively with other photographers and industry professionals through online forums, local meetups, or professional conferences. This will keep you informed about new techniques and technologies and foster relationships that could lead to collaborative opportunities or mentorship. 

Always be learning—attend workshops, participate in webinars, and ask questions of successful photographers to expand your understanding. Every week on “The Photographer’s Problem: A Narrative Podcast,” industry leaders share their story allowing you to learn from their experiences. (Check it out on YouTube or Spotify.)

By staying connected and educated, you remain competitive and innovative, ready to adapt to changes and seize opportunities.

Embrace AI Technology

Technology will continue to evolve in photography, just as it always has. Cameras have gotten smaller. We store photos in the cloud now. We don’t worry about ruining rolls of film because our images are digital. AI is the latest thing to come along and revolutionize photography. 

AI empowers us to elevate the baseline of good for yourself and for the entire industry. And if everyone else is embracing AI and getting better and better, that’s a change you must adapt to - or get left behind.

AI will not replace photographers. Instead, it can speed up processes like emailing and culling. Your artistry will remain an integral part of the process. There is no such thing as dropping images into AI and walking away while it edits, sends galleries, and makes sure your clients are happy. The photographer’s artistic touch is and always will be vital.

With AI software that speeds up menial tasks, we can spend more time perfecting our art. Are you ready to harness the potential?

Step Forward With Narrative’s AI Tools

AI tools are setting new standards in the photography industry. We created Narrative Select+Edit to make it easy for you to streamline your workflow, improve productivity, and deliver exceptional results to your clients with our AI culling and editing software. 

Narrative Select+Edit uses AI to help you choose your best images quickly, apply your personalized editing style, and export to Lightroom for your final touch. You can cull and edit twice as fast, so you can focus your attention on other important matters, like networking, researching trends, or spending more time with your loved ones. 

Like Bob Dylan said, start swimmin’ or sink like a stone. Get started with Select and try Edit for free today to see how AI changes the way you work.