AOP 360° - Looking Ahead to 2023 #7

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.

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

  • With many small and medium businesses struggling for survival, budgets will be tighter, negotiations tougher and compromises expected. There will be lots of restructuring and hiring & firing in the workforce so you can’t assume your trusted contact is still in their position or indeed still employed by the company.
  • Although there is a lot of uncertainty around, there will still be plenty of work as businesses try to keep their heads above water and compete to stay ahead after post-covid caution.
  • If you are more of a ‘generalist’ photographer you may find a stronger downward pressure on price. If you have a distinct style and expertise, you have a greater chance of being able to keep your prices buoyant.


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

  • Ensure you are clear about your offer and expertise and be targeted in your marketing by researching your potential customers thoroughly.
  • Show how you deliver outstanding service and content through a well-considered and refreshed website.
  • Analyse overheads and expenditure with a fine-tooth comb and force yourself to identify areas where you can be more streamlined and efficient.
  • Expect your business to be dynamic and change in some way over the next 18 months. This is par for the course of any creative in challenging times and indeed many found that the extremes of the pandemic forced them to rethink their whole direction, finding a greater authentic resonance with their practice as a result.
  • Be creative and innovate in how you encounter and reach your clients; challenge your usual methods of entering their sphere; work on your networking skills.


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

Network, network and network!

Contacts (like seeds) take time to bear fruit so there is no time to be wasted. The real-life grapevine is, was and always will be very powerful. Get yourself out there and be seen, be positive, be talked about and get noticed. Give yourself the target of speaking to 3 new people each time you go to an industry/social event…and take a good old-fashioned business card. The more you practice the easier it becomes and the more you will reap the rewards.


Are there key pitfalls they should avoid?

  • This is not a time to batten down the hatches and retreat from view in the hope that your existing clients will see you though; show your difference/uniqueness though clear and consistent messaging through various marketing channels and in-person meetings.
  • Resist the temptation to reduce your fees; instead demonstrate your worth and find ways to stand out from the competition.
  • Resist the temptation of staying safe and remaining within the bounds of what’s come before. Keep innovating with your work and how you do business and consider expanding your reach, despite feelings of uncertainty. This is where growth lies.


What should they be doing now to futureproof their business? 

  • Analyse your business: Ensure it springs from the core of who you are and has a purposeful direction rather than being built from more circumstantial foundations. This will give you a resilience and be sustainable in the longer term.
  • Make time for personal projects. They are your lifeblood and will keep your work fresh and open up possibilities for growth.


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

As a mentor, I provide creative and strategic advice for photographers at all stages in their career who are looking to take their business to the next level.

Working across all genres, I give bespoke guidance, insights and on-going support to identify where best to focus activity to drive their career forwards.

Please get in touch to arrange a free 20-minute consultation to discuss the challenges you are facing and the help you are looking for:

Zoe Whishaw, Commercial Photography Consultant and Mentor

Zoe Whishaw is a Commercial Photography Consultant and Mentor providing creative direction and strategic guidance for photographers at all stages in their career. She runs seminars and hand-on workshops and meets on a one-to-one with those who need tailored guidance and an objective eye to help build their brand, focus their creative direction and plan marketing initiatives to elevate their business to the next level.

As a seasoned Editor and Art Director, Zoe has 30 years of experience analysing and critiquing imagery across a broad spectrum of genre and subject areas. She developed and contributed to the success of leading media company Getty Images, where she worked for 17 years in senior creative and strategic positions, latterly as European Director of Photography.

Zoe has been on the judging panel of a range of national and international photography competitions, including the Association of Photography Awards, Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and ArtGemini Prize and conducts portfolio reviews at industry events.

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…