Are You Ready to Pivot?

Are You Ready to Pivot?

As creative professionals, the ability to pivot, both in business and creatively, can be a life-changing experience. I might be at that stage now and I've no clue as to where this will will lead to.

I've been stuck in a creative rut for a while now. For the time-being at least, landscapes have taken a back seat to the more lucrative side of my business. I'm not complaining; I'm very grateful that I can earn a living photographing homes, and I do enjoy the process, but it just isn't very creatively enriching. Also — and quite possibly more importantly — I am concerned about the longevity of interior photography market, at least for private houses anyway. Camera phones are getting extremely good at creating decent HDR images, and they're only going to get better. Eventually, mid-range interior photography gigs will be a thing of the past and entry-level work will only suit someone who needs a portfolio and is willing to work for free. I have to ask myself: where do I want to be? Should I go all in to high-end interior work, even though I just can't seem to land those gigs yet, or should I pivot?

I'm now at the point where I'm about to pivot. Videography has been in the back of my mind since I started my business two years ago but I've put it on the long finger due to other commitments, until now. I have the opportunity to make a couple of short promo videos for two businesses that I work with, so I'm taking the bull by the horns. It's daunting, a little bit scary, but it has reinvigorated me. 

While one of the videos is just a simple landing page video for a letting agency, the other is a bit more interesting. I'm in the process of creating photography workshops in South Africa with a few friends of mine who are involved in the wildlife industry. My workshop will be one of a number of experiences on a private reserve, the others being conservation and yoga experiences. The people running the yoga experience are also friends of mine so they've elicited my help to generate content for them. So, here I am in South Africa, scouting more locations for my workshop while making a low-budget promotional video and taking photos for my friends' business. Guess how much I'm getting paid? Ha. Yes, nothing. In fact I'm losing money.

group of people sit meditating overlooking a beautiful vista with a valley and mountains.

I didn't think I'd end up here but it's alright, I guess.

I'm now pivoting so hard that I nearly popped my hip out. It might have been the yoga, sure, but I've dove off the deep end and now I'm just about getting my bearings. I've a cheap fluid-head, a Canon 6D and a 6D MKII for video work — I know, but I'm on a shoestring, here —  and a Zoom H1n recorder. As well as all the cheap gear, I've got a sack full of determination and I'm spending time with friends. So life could be a lot worse. I'm apprehensive about the future, but I'm doing something positive for me and my business. If it all goes up in smoke, I'm sure I'll live to tell the tale. Hell, I've already messed up by forgetting to press the record button on the audio recorder during an hour long presentation. Lesson learned.

My point is to go out and just launch yourself at what you want. The industry is constantly changing, but now it's changing faster than ever. Yes, I could have started video work a lot earlier, but I'm here now and that's the only thing thing I need to focus on.

Have any of our readers needed to pivot in their business? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Rod Kestel's picture

Sometimes you gotta do it. Do you want to be the old person in the nursing home telling people, I COULD'A done this and I COULD'A done that?

Early 2017 I chucked in my nicely paid consulting work to full-time write a book. If you know any writers, net pay is around $0.01 per hour on a good day. If you're lucky.

I'm planning to be the old man boring the tits off everybody. I DID this, and I DID that.

Mike O'Leary's picture

I can see myself being that person too.... only more shout-y :)

Justin Punio's picture

I've personally seen less need for pro photogs from commercial and estate agents as they increasingly take on the jobs with their phone or cheap dslr. There isn't much editing required too. Video is definitely a viable pivot!

Mike O'Leary's picture

Yup, and I don't blame them. iPhones are pretty fool-proof. Estate Agents are trying to maximize profits so it makes sense. There is still the need for higher quality photographs for certain projects. Higher-end commercial stuff like hotels and restaurants will always benefit from professional photos as they require finessing and an understanding of composition. Video is a different beast and opens up way more opportunities, though.

every time I hear 'pivot' (and as a former startup founder, I've heard it a LOT), I can't help but think of 'Friends' episode with the couch. PIVOT!

Scott S's picture

I've definitely started that Pivot. 75% of my photo jobs have also incorporated a b-roll segment or filming aspect to it this year and then I've actually had a few straight video projects as well. They'll eventually find some way to better automate video in the future and then we'll pivot again.