Face down the fear of change by HIYA MARIANNE.

Many professionals are comfortable to the point where they can fear change, but disruption is actually a necessary part of the process if you want to move on to achieve great things.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited as having once said: ‘the only constant in life is change’. In today’s fast-paced business world, change is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ Embracing change and knowing how to pivot when necessary are essential skills for any business owner. Change can bring challenges, but it also opens doors to new opportunities and growth. In this column I’m going to explore how to tackle the need to move things on from time to time and I’ll look at how you can manage this effectively in you business..

I remember a time when I was a busy wedding photographer, and Facebook was an absolute goldmine for organic marketing. The reach was crazy, and it was hard to imagine a time when there would be a need for any other kind of marketing. Until everything changed almost overnight. Facebook introduced paid advertising, and the new algorithms that followed left many business pages looking like ghost towns with tumbleweed rolling through.

Learning to adapt

It was a huge shock to the system for many businesses, but we all had to get over it and adapt. Some became experts at Facebook advertising, some moved on to aggressively grow their mailing lists, and some, like me, moved to Instagram. Learning a whole new ecosystem was challenging, but it also opened many new doors. I don’t think I’d be doing what I do now if it wasn’t for Instagram.

However, as I’m sure you’re more than well aware, the landscape has been changing again. Reach on Instagram feels temperamental, and once again, it’s time to learn to embrace different routes to market.

The fact is that change is a natural part of life, and it’s something that every business owner must learn to navigate. Whether it’s changes in technology, shifts in consumer behaviour, or personal circumstances that force you to re-evaluate your business, being adaptable is key to long-term success.

In the world of photography, change is particularly relevant. New technology, trends, and styles emerge constantly, and staying up to date with these changes and learning new skills is essential if you want to stay relevant and competitive. But keeping up with changes can be daunting, especially if you’re already running a busy photography business.

Before the pandemic, my commercial photography business was split roughly 50/50 between studio-based still-life product photography and on-set lifestyle photography. With lockdown rules in place, I had to concentrate my efforts purely on my studio photography. Initially, it felt daunting to effectively let go of half of my business income. However, that focus elevated my studio skills, the quality of my work, and my customer base to a place I might not have reached without that period in time. By the end of the lockdowns, my business was in a much healthier place financially than it had been before the pandemic. So, something that at first felt like a diminished business actually ended up being much more successful than what I had before the big change.

The first step to not being afraid of change is to embrace it. Rather than seeing change as a threat, see it as an opportunity for growth and innovation. Take time to educate yourself on new trends and technologies, take courses, attend conferences, and network with other professionals in your field. This will not only keep you up to date but will also give you new ideas and inspiration for your own work.

When life has other ideas

It’s not just external factors that can prompt change – sometimes, it’s your own personal circumstances that require you to pivot your business strategy. Perhaps you’ve started a family, moved to a new location, or are simply looking for a new challenge. If you’ve read my previous columns, you might remember that I pivoted my business away from wedding photography and into commercial photography based on my move to the other side of the country, combined with some health issues that prevented me from travelling as much as I had before. That change felt big and scary at the time, but I couldn’t imagine not being a commercial photographer now. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to be open to change and willing to adapt your business to suit your changing needs.

One way to do this is to regularly evaluate your business and assess what is and isn’t working. Are there any services or products that are no longer profitable or don’t align with your values? Are there new areas of photography that you’re interested in exploring? Use this information to make informed decisions about the direction of your business.

Another important aspect of not being afraid of change is being willing to take risks. It can be tempting to stick with what you know, especially if your current strategy is working well right now. But taking calculated risks and trying new things can lead to exciting opportunities and growth for your business.

Ultimately, the key to not being afraid of change is to remain flexible and adaptable. Remember that change is inevitable, but with the right mindset and approach, it can lead to new and exciting opportunities for your business.

How to embrace change

1. Cultivate a growth mindset:
View change as a chance for learning and growth and embrace challenges as opportunities to expand your skills and knowledge.

2. Stay customer-centric:
Listen to your customers’ feedback and adapt your offerings based on their needs. Be proactive in addressing their changing preferences and expectations.

3. Monitor market trends:
Keep a close eye on industry trends and emerging technologies and try to anticipate shifts in the market and position your business accordingly.

4. Flexibility is key:
Build a business model that allows for flexibility and adaptation.

5. Assess and analyse:
Regularly evaluate your business’s performance and objectives. Use data, insights, and your business intuition to identify areas that require change or improvement.

6. Plan strategically:
Develop a clear strategy for navigating change. Outline specific goals and action steps to guide your pivot.

7. Seek expert advice:
Don’t hesitate to consult with mentors, industry experts, or business advisors. Gain insights from those who have successfully navigated change.

8. Embrace innovation:
Encourage a culture of innovation and explore new technologies and methods to stay competitive.

9. Learn to fail:
Understand that not every pivot will be a resounding success. Analyse what went wrong and use failures as stepping stones to future success.

10. Stay resilient:
Resilience is the key to bouncing back from setbacks. Maintain a positive outlook and the determination to persevere. And remember, you’ll always feel the most uncertain and overwhelmed about a new direction right before the path fully reveals itself. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll eventually get to the other side.


Face down the fear of change by HIYA MARIANNE.



A version of this column was originally published in Professional Photo magazine issue 213.