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Weathering the Lull: Your Guide to Surviving a Slowdown in the Photography Industry

May 28, 2023

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Experiencing a slowdown in the photography industry can be disconcerting for any photographer. However, let me assure you, such slowdowns are not a sign of failure or ineptitude; they’re simply part of doing business.

Before I immersed myself in the world of photography, I was a business analyst for several industries, and I’ve seen this ebb and flow in all of them. Take a deep breath – you’re in the same boat as every entrepreneur.

Markets have a cyclical nature; they rise and fall like the rhythm of the seasons. Your clients and inquiries are not gone forever; it may seem like an extended winter, but spring inevitably follows. And when it does, you want to be in a strong position to leverage the market rebound.

First things first, is the photography industry in your area truly slowing down?

I’m writing this post with the idea that, yes, you are experiencing a bit of a lull because, frankly, they happen.  However, before I go down this rabbit hole, I want to encourage you to investigate your business and your market before you point your finger at a slowdown.

Things to consider

  1. Have you recently changed your prices or your service offerings? This is not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s important to know that a lull can happen with these changes.
  2. Are you experiencing a seasonal trend versus a true market slowdown? Weddings have seasons, of course. But so does family photography and even newborn work.
  3. How new is your business? Our business doesn’t grow on a smooth, even slope. It’s normal for new businesses to have a cooling-off period before they grow again.
  4. Is it possible demand has shifted timelines? Meaning more people are traveling this summer, so they aren’t inquiring about family photos, but they will be in the fall.

If you aren’t sure if this is unique to your business, I encourage you to talk openly with other photographers. Sometimes we are so afraid to end up looking like it’s just our business having a problem that we don’t talk about the elephant in the room AKA An Industry Lull.

If a few local businesses are feeling a similar thing, you might be heading into a dip.  Don’t forget to look at other businesses beyond photography.  We are very much connected to travel, retail, venues etc.

Industry lull graphic

So, what can you do if you actually find yourself in a slowdown? Here’s your action plan:

Invest in SEO: Slow times are ideal for focusing on your Search Engine Optimization. Use this time to ensure that when clients start looking again, you’re readily visible. I can’t stress how important this one is and it’s not a quick change. Starting now will ensure you’re ready later.

Check out our SEO Starter Kit for Photographers for help.

Adapt to Market Shifts: Identify and respond to temporary trends in your market. Are there services that might be in higher demand right now? Lean into where your clients are investing. Like extended family photos, branding photos, etc.

Invest in Your Business: Use this time to invest in learning. Join a mastermind, take a course, or delve deeper into a business aspect you’ve been intending to focus on. It might feel counterintuitive to spend money when you’re slowing down, but consider any education an investment for the future. I’ve never regretted pouring into my business with education.

These are a few things I’ve personally done –

  • Elena S Blair Mastermind
  • CreativeLive Classes
  • And basically everything on youtube. It’s free and a great place to start.

Start a Passion Project: Keeping your skills honed and your name circulating is essential. Starting a project, such as a photography book, can help with this. I’ve listened to this podcast on PhotobizX about book projects and am considering doing one myself.

Prepare Blogs: Get ahead with your blog posts during slower times. Having content ready to post during busier times can be a lifesaver. Because trust me, clients will come back, and having a batch of blogs queued up will be a lifesaver.

Engage with Your Community: Connect with local businesses and fellow photographers. Building a strong network can lead to unexpected opportunities.

Diversifying your brand buffers you when things slow down.

One thing I’ve noticed, about literally every slowdown is that it’s not evenly spread out. Meaning just because one service drops off, it doesn’t mean something else is as well. Even more so, there might be a pickup in demand.

By broadening your service offerings, you can buffer against downturns in a particular area. Now is the perfect time to prepare for the next market dip. Whether that’s adding school photography, branding or even teaching something photography related.

Family photos outdoors

Remember, a slowdown in the photography industry is temporary

My experience as a business analyst has given me insights into market cycles, and as a photography business owner, I’ve personally lived them. Market cycles are inevitable, but what matters is how we adapt, learn, and prepare for the next upswing. Your current slowdown is temporary and when the market rebounds, put yourself in an excellent position to seize the opportunities it brings.

Stay strong, keep learning, and continue to capture the world in your unique way. Your worth as a photographer isn’t measured by today’s photos but by your potential to create magnificent work in the future. Your business is no different.

In the meantime, keep honing your craft and remain focused. When the market picks up, you’ll be ready to make the most of it.

Life’s biggest adventures in modern photos co-crafted with you. Spokane Photographer | Serving the Pacific Northwest

Life’s biggest adventures in modern photos co-crafted with you. Spokane Photographer | Serving the Pacific Northwest

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