AOP 360° - Looking Ahead to 2023 #9

With many still recovering from the effects of lockdowns and the pandemic, how best to face further uncertain times?
We’ve asked several industry experts within our community for their insights and tips to help you navigate the coming months and year ahead.

Sarah Williams, Darklight Art

How do you think 2023 is looking for the industry (from your perspective)? Do you have any predictions? 

Brands will need to be advertising more than ever this year. They’ll need to be fighting to get people buying their product, so they will still need commercial photographers. Budgets might be a little tight, but there’s also a chance some might put more money into branding to keep themselves relevant in tough times.


What advice would you give photographers looking to prepare themselves for leaner times?

Plan well, invest in your career, be targeted in your approach to personal projects, potential clients and how you market yourself. This might not be the year for a complete re-brand or that 3 month trip abroad to shoot the project of your dreams…

But, keep making personal projects, they are more valuable than most realise. You don’t need to spend a fortune to produce something memorable.


Can you recommend 3 things they should consider now to prepare for the year ahead? 

1) Your mental health should come above all else, if that is on the rocks everything else crumbles. Don’t beat yourself up. Do what you can and be realistic. 

2) Plan what you’d like to achieve this year. Even if you don’t reach your targets, it’s great to have goals that keep you driven. We’d also advise finding someone to hold you accountable – a mentor, fellow photographer, consultant etc. We know being a photographer can be isolating, so having some support can be extremely helpful.

3) Consider finding a few bread and butter clients. They might more churn & burn and not hugely glamorous, but you don’t need to shout about the work you do for them and it’s great to have the financial security. 


Are there key pitfalls they should avoid?

Try not to get stuck in a rut. If you feel yourself getting to that place, take a break, talk to others, don’t push yourself unnecessarily, it often makes things worse. 

Don’t shy away from meetings. This is the year to keep your name out there, make connections and build relationships.


How can AOP Members / Photographers contact you – what services do you provide? 

With 20 years in the industry between us as commissioners, producers, agents & curators we have a wealth of knowledge from all sides of the industry. Darklight Art offers private consultations, group sessions and workshops for photographers to help guide them in their careers and support them at every stage. 



Sarah Williams, Darklight Art

Sarah Williams has a wealth of experience in art, photography and advertising. She’s commissioned artists for some of the world’s biggest brands, curated exhibitions for world renowned artists, sat on the board of the AOP, judged awards, spoken on many panels and was a judge on the BBC’s The Great British Photography Challenge alongside Rankin. To date she’s worked with hundreds of photographers, advising on their careers and portfolios.

She now runs photography platform Darklight with Mimi Gray.


Sarah is also on the judging panel for the 38th AOP Photography Awards Still Life and Object Category

AOP Photography Awards

The AOP Photography Awards are known as the ‘Oscars’ of the photography world. They celebrate excellence in the creative photography and image-making industry.
This is your chance to be seen by leading commissioners and names within the photographic industry. Our 38th AOP Awards finalists are now revealed…