Disappointments and Opportunities

We all have disappointments and opportunities in life. I am learning that I need to embrace both in order to succeed.

The River Derwent has Broken it's banks

Monday 26th October 2020

Since I finished my last 1-2-1 on Friday it has been raining constantly. So despite my best intentions it was to be yet another Monday in the office.

I spent most of the day editing a video about my recent commission.

At the end I was really pleased with it. There is a strong story element and the wonderful conditions helped me to capture some good images.

I think it is my best video for a while.

Tuesday 27th

Still raining.

Today seemed to get lost to those small, mundane tasks that we all need to get done every now and then.

By far and away the best was framing the image of the Rigg that was chosen by Ailsa. The image looks fantastic framed and I am absolutely delighted with it.

A2 framed print of the Rigg and Wood Howe
Photographing reflective surfaces is really hard! I am not sure I have what it takes to be a product photographer. 🙂

Wednesday 28th

Still raining.

My latest video went live yesterday. The early signs are not good.

My channel has been in the decline since March with views falling month after month. Whilst it would be easy to blame the YouTube algorithm I suspect that the real reason lies a little closer to home.

The poor performance of my last 2 videos is strong evidence of my failure to create engaging content. With this in mind I spent some time today reviewing my key beliefs:

  1. Landscape photography is fun!
  2. It is more fun if you get good photos
  3. The Lake District is a great place to get good photos

Hopefully producing content that aligns with these beliefs will help me to re-engage with my audience. Or at the very least help me to connect with a whole new audience entirely.

Adobe Premiere Pro Creator Bootcamp

I had an email last week from Adobe inviting me to attend an online bootcamp designed to improve the quality of my videos. Apparently my channel has been identified as having great potential! I am glad someone thinks so. 🙂

This evening was the first session where I was able to meet my fellow creators that will be on the bootcamp. I made the following observations.

  • They are all women. I appear to be the only bloke on the course. I now regret not shaving or brushing my hair for the first Zoom session.
  • It seems they are all younger than me. Some of them are still in high school.
  • They are all far more charismatic and engaging than I am.

It is this last point that interests me the most.

Whilst there is no doubt I will learn a lot from the lessons that Adobe have prepared I also think there is a lot I can learn from my fellow students.

Documentary

While I was on the call with Adobe I got a message from Jules. He’s finished the documentary that he filmed about be a few weeks ago.

I think he has done a great job with the edit and should be very proud. The video gives an excellent account of what it is really like to be a professional landscape photographer in 2020.

The video will premiere on YouTube on Wednesday 4th November at 19:00. Both Jules and I will be online if you would like to chat to us.

Thursday 29th

Still raining.

The highlight of the day was a call from company that creates online photography courses. They are looking for an expert to help them to create a course about landscape photography.

It is a really exciting opportunity that would allow me to focus on presenting while someone else looks after the producing, directing, filming and editing.

I need to make sure that I do everything that I can to make it happen.

Webinar

This evening’s webinar about “eCommerce for Photographers” was a disappointment.

Less than 50% of the people that registered made it on to the call. Of those that did less than 20% made a donation via Ko-fi (although those that did were very generous).

It is another example of my inability to create engaging content at the moment.

At times like this I am reminded of the quote by Winston Churchill.

Failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.

So I will pick myself up, dust myself off and try something else. Every failure is an opportunity to learn a new lesson.

Friday 30th

IT’S STOPPED RAINING!!!

I had to make the most of this opportunity to get out with this camera. Typically I had a very busy afternoon so only had time for a quick shoot.

I decided to make my way to Manesty Park at the southern end of Derwent Water. With all of the rain that we have been having I was expecting the River Derwent to have burst it banks. I wasn’t wrong. You can see how I got on in next week’s video.

I was hoping that a few hours outside would help to lift my mood but it didn’t really.

The River Derwent has Broken it's banks
With all of the rain that we have had recently I expected the River Derwent to have broken it’s banks and for Manesty Park to be flooded. Turns out I was bang on the money!
5×5 Challenge

My first call of the day was with John in Pennsylvania. We have been working together for over 6 months and have become good friends in that time.

2 hours on Skype with John was enough to cheer me up.

Like many people the situation with Covid is playing havoc with his photography. It can be difficult for some of us to visit the locations that we would normally choose to photograph. So I have set him a challenge.

During the month of November the two of us will be using our phones to produce 25 images that can be arranged in a 5×5 grid. The aim is to capture whatever catches our eye.

The point is to demonstrate how we don’t necessarily need to visit exotic locations to produce good photos or create a meaningful body of work.

Saturday 31st

I was supposed to have a workshop at Holme Fell this morning but it had to be cancelled due to the weather.

My rule for workshops is a simple one. I never ask anyone to shoot in conditions that I myself would not shoot in. And as I have only ventured out once this week I think it is safe to say there is cause for a postponement at least.

Lockdown v2.0

The biggest news of the day has been the government’s announcement that they will be locking down the country for a second time.

From Thursday 5th November the UK will enter into a period of lockdown that will last for a minimum of 4 weeks.

We have been expecting this. I am just relieved that it wasn’t enforced a month early otherwise the impact on my business would have been far greater.

Sunday 1st November

I had a busy morning reaching out to all the workshop and 1-2-1 clients that are affected by the lockdown.

Once again the impact on my business has been significant. But this is the world that we must now operate in.

Rather than allowing this to get me down I need to embrace the opportunity that it presents. My focus for the next couple of days will be figuring out how I can turn this negative into a positive.

I’ve done it before. I can do it again.

38 thoughts on “Disappointments and Opportunities”

  1. Chin up Chris. I am still subscribed and love all of your videos!

    If it’s of any help, we have just completed our second lockdown (which lasted over 100 days) but have managed to get our Covid cases down to zero, three days running. Hopefully the vaccine will bring an end to all this madness before too long.

  2. Sounds like it’s been a tough week, but you are a very positive person Chris and if anyone can get through the ups and downs of recent times then it’s you.
    Great opportunities with the Adobe Premiere Pro Bootcamp and the online photography course company. I liked your video about the commission for Ailsa and it will be interesting to see if you get other commissions on the back of it as I cannot recall seeing any other YouTube landscape photographer videoing a commission shoot, telling their viewers that this was what they were doing and detailing how they went about it.
    Unfortunately, it appears that your M50 is going to get a lot of use again for the next month! As a little project, what about revisiting and photographing the locations you photographed when exercising during the last lockdown and posting them to compare the changes over the year?

    1. Hi Stephen, great suggestion to revisit the locations that I photographed during the last lockdown. I have a heap of ideas for lockdown content but that has gone straight to the top of the list. 🙂

  3. Chris,
    I’m rooting for you to be successful at being a pro. I’m also one of those who doesn’t watch as often as I used to.

    Your new videos in my opinion are too focused on your pursuit of being a pro. Your old videos were about the experience of photography and it was easy to see the joy you were experiencing.

    To pull folks like me back in, please have fun, show us the beauty and add the music back.

    Share more photography with your subscribers and less of the business of becoming a pro.

    Best of luck,

    Shane

  4. Hi again Chris
    Don’t be too dispondent over your video channel – I think the whole country (& world) is currently experiencing this frame of mind, and it would be interesting to know how other photographer YouTubers’ channels have faired; not all growing I suspect. Stay positive – you have some new opportunities coming your way which will lift your spirits and I’m sure you’ll get through this.
    I had hoped to get down to see you before the end of the year but it now looks doubtful. Keep the videos coming – I know I’ll be watching them!

    1. Hey Gordon, it is a shame that we didn’t get chance to catch up since I last saw you in February. I hope that you are well and making the best of this bad situation.

  5. Hi Chris, as per the previous comments, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself under the current circumstances the whole country is facing at present. I was trying to think of something that might help the cash flow, if the business is currently suffering due to the above. What about if you offered your 1-2-1 sessions at at reduced fee on the basis of book / pay now and shoot when the circumstances allow (build a pipeline etc ………just a thought to try and entice revenue streams). Please keep up the work you are doing as your videos are inspiring and you sincere love of the Lake District always shines through. Here’s hoping we can arrange to meet up at some stage ?

    1. Hi Mike – I have had a few people offer to pay in advance which is extremely good of them. But cash flow isn’t a problem at the moment. This is the first time that I have really struggled to connect with people and that is a worry.

  6. Hey Chris, long time no speak. it’s tough out there for creators, we’ve just to keep on creating, that’s the key I believe. We’re all in the same boat, so it’s those of us who don’t give up and keep on pushing ourselves to explore new ideas and try new things who will endure this. Stay strong old chap! 🙂 👍

    1. Hi mate – it certainly is a tough time for creators. I don’t think I fully realised just what an impact that this was going to have on the creative industries. As you say now is the time to dig deep and try new things. If they don’t work then we haven’t lost a whole lot.

  7. Hi Chris,
    Looks like you have had another bad week what with the weather conditions.
    Please keep the videos coming on UTube as i will certainly be watching them as I’m sure many others will.
    I was gutted to of missed the webinair on Thursday as I was still travelling back home.
    I did email you which i hope you got to say I couldn’t make it.
    Keep your chin up bud, I’m sure things will get better and work out for you.

    1. Hi Tim – I did see your email. I am sorry if I haven’t responded, I thought I had. I’ve had a lot of stuff landing in my inbox the last few weeks so it might have slipped through the net. I am re-running the webinar this Thursday if you are interested. Let me know.

  8. I missed your event. I took a week on the west coast of Florida and actually got out to do some photography. I figured with the rise in Covid-19 cases here in the USA (we are now at near 100,000 new cases a day) I had better get some shooting done while I could. So, I wasn’t keeping online much at all and missed your event. I saw two days ago in the news that the UK was going into a lock down. Honestly, I believe that is something that is necessary. In a country where our President won’t even acknowledge the problem, much less take any action, we are seeing hospitals with extremely heavy loads and a rising death count. I read a sign in front of a Jewish house of worship that said “Patience is disappointment plus hope”. So, put some hope in with the disappointment and call it being patient. It won’t make the situation better but it can change the perspective considerably. Patience means to me that there is something worth waiting on and planning towards. That was an excellent video on the commission you worked on. And, the results of the photos was fantastic. Nicely done.

    1. Hi Marvin – lovely to hear from you as always. I love that quote “patience is disappointment + hope”, I think I will use that in future. I am re-running the webinar this Thursday for those that missed it. Let me know if you would like to attend.

  9. Hello, Chris. Sending you some more rain from the eastern US. Hopefully, you won’t get the accompanying wind after the rain ends.
    Too bad about V.2 of the lockdown. Let’s hope it will be the last.
    The commission piece looks fantastic. I enjoyed your explanation of the process.
    Congratulations on your selection to the Adobe boot camp. It will be interesting to see what they suggest in the way of expanding your presentations. The creation of an online photography course sounds great.
    I am looking forward to the Premiere of Dream Job or Nightmare on the 4th.
    I am enjoying the B&W phone challenge.

    1. Hi John – I am struggling to get started on the 5×5 challenge to be honest. I am hoping to get started officially on the 5th which will be the first day of lockdown. I look forward to seeing you for the premiere of Jules’s documentary.

  10. In my case I have been watching all of your videos as soon as they came out, but 6 weeks ago my father suddenly died and all things YouTube fell by the wayside. I’m sure (I hope) that this is a somewhat exotic reason to account for one lost viewer.

    The image of the Rigg above is wonderful.

    1. Hi Alastair – I am so sorry for your loss. There are more important things than both photography and YouTube. My thoughts are with you during these sad times.

  11. Hello Chris. My sincere apologies for missing Thursday. We had a drama at work and it just consumed my evening 🙁 I absolutely assure you that my absence had nothing to do with my interest in the content. As someone that has been in an art gallery and held exhibitions with mixed results I was really interested to hear your own experiences. It is a shame about the latest video – I loved it, I think because there was a genuine connection by me to the content as a married man of nearly 30 years myself. Be careful with the charisma – turning the dial up to 100 will just as much put people off as turning it to zero. I like Henry Turners approach and the level of enthusiasm that he puts across. I find it engaging, and I enjoy it, but sometimes I do skip through it myself to get to the end result to see if the fuss was all worth it. I’m up in the Lakes just now on my hastily re-arranged group workshop – fortunately most of my participants were very happy to switch from Wed-to-Fri to Mon-to-Wed and then leg it home before the deadline. If you run the selling prints webinar again then let me know chap. Stay frosty 🙂 All the best.

    1. Hi Huw – if you are back in time I am re-running the webinar on Thursday evening for those that missed it. Let me know if you are interested. Hope that the workshop is going well. I had a fantastic morning at Elterwater dodging the rain. Last shoot in the Lakes for a while, though I do have a 1-2-1 tomorrow morning.

      1. Hey Chris. Yes please. Last day of the workshop tomorrow (Wednesday) so I will be about on Thursday. We had a challenging day on Monday at Hodge Close, but today at Rydal, Penny Rock, and Grasmere was much more successful. Off to Castlerigg, Moss Force, and Buttermere tomorrow. Let me know what I need to do to be included on the Thursday group. All the best.

  12. I really enjoyed the commission video because you were on location taking pictures and talking about how you put together the composition, it also had some energy and purpose. I think your decision to do less location vlogging hasn’t worked for me.
    FWIW there are five reasons that I watch Youtube Photo videos; Information, Education, Location, Inspiration & Entertainment. I don’t find them all in the same channel but some hit 2 or 3 of the 5 and these I return to.
    I hope you find a way through your current doldrum.
    Regards Keith

  13. Hey Chris
    It’s easy for me to say when photography isn’t a source of income for me, but hang in there mate.
    I’ve followed your channel for probably a couple of years and to me you don’t need to try and be charismatic. Your honesty is one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about your channel Chris, and I think it will continue to hold you in good stead going forward. Essentially, don’t try to be something you’re not.
    If I can offer a thought, I think the inescapable impact of covid really stalled your momentum. To be honest – and again it’s easy for me to say – but I think it was unlucky timing. As I said, hang in there mate you a damn good photographer and I will be continuing to follow your content.

    1. Excellent advice Bevan and thank you for your kind words. To be honest with you I am not worried about the business at the moment, things are ticking over quite well and I am more or less on track despite everything. What worries me is the my failure to connect with my audience, that has bigger ramifications for the future.

  14. Chris, you’re being way too hard on yourself – you’ve been unfortunate to encounter these unique (I hope!) times where it is difficult for a lot of people and will obviously restrict what you can do.
    As you are aware, I tried to log in to the ‘eCommerce’ webinar but encountered problems and you mentioned that a few others also experienced the same so I’m sure there would have been a bigger turnout.
    Providing the customer doesn’t have to stay overnight, can you not continue your 1-2-1’s – my understanding is that you can still meet one other person outside of your bubble and continue to work (you can hardly do it at home).
    Hope you find some means of getting through the next 4 weeks but, whatever you do, don’t give up – you’ve got plenty to offer.
    Do I see another ‘Mrs Sale’ interview coming up?!

    1. Hi Ian – taking into account the people that tried to access the webinar and failed (I have analytics for that so I can track it) the turn out would still have been less than 50%, the lowest so far. This is often the pattern with these things. You get a lot of interest to start with and then it tails off. And when it does it is time to move on and try something new.

  15. Hi Chris. Sorry to hear you have been down this week. I can certainly empathise! I’m probably about as low as I ever recall feeling. I had foolishly allowed myself to believe that we might have been past the worst of the pandemic and had envisioned the light at the end of the tunnel, that light now seems further away than ever before. I suspect my lack of getting out and taking photos has had a negative impact on my mental health also.
    On a brighter note I decided to treat myself to a new iPad Air and I am rather looking forward to trying my hand at editing in Lightroom on it as I have found that I do not enjoy using Lightroom on a p c. I hope you stay well. Take care!

  16. Greetings Chris, followed your channel for the past year, but suspect I tailed off viewing as I was not finding sufficient photographic based content to keep me “hooked”.

    I have found it a long summer of little actual photography and with peak autumn passing, and an imminent lockdown, a project is sorely needed myself to end a photographic plateauing.

    A type of series I have enjoyed more often in recent months, and finding great value and interest in, are either self critiques of images taken, or of others’ images.

    What works, did not work, what can be better.

    Is there a value proposition there in you offering your feedback on others images, either privately, or with agreement, in a vlog?

    As for fieldwork vlogs, I do enjoy those where you hear how compositions are searched for, constructed, and nudged, and the reasoning, before arriving at the final take. It is good to hear the thoughts of what factors are taken into account.

    But later, post edit, did you think the image worked? If not, why not?

    Stay safe, and hope you can find the enjoyment in the process of challenging yourself on the content side of things.

    But key is to be true to yourself!

    All the best

  17. Hi Chris. I can understand that feeling of despondency. However I think it is more about the times that we live in than your content. Over our first UK lockdown, I didn’t get out as much as I would have liked and managed to collect approx 80 channels (mainly landscape photography related) on my YouTube watchlist. Over the last couple of months, I have noticed that I tend to watch only a handful of the YT contributors than before, particularly those that share the experience, provide explanation of the thinking behind the images and above all take great images! I look forward every week to your vlogs and count yours as one of the best and most involving channels.

  18. Hi Chris. Keep up the good work. I wouldn’t be reading too much into current viewing trends. I am in New Zealand and we have had a dream run through COVID-19 compared to you guys, but even so I am finding it very tiring and it’s starting to drain my enthusiasm for just about everything. We get to the stage where it is difficult to process more information even when it relates to a passion. I would bet that most creators are seeing a reduced engagement with their audience right now. For some people, sadly, it will be because they must deal with life and death issues. For the rest of us perhaps it is simply fatigue. Things will get better. Don’t take things personally and keep your eye on the big picture. Kindest regards for NZ.

  19. Hey Chris,
    Firstly stop chasing YouTube views as your primary source of your success. If you follow social media views/likes, all you’ll ever do is shoot sunsets or over saturate flowers and/or use an nd1000 on all of your water subjects. I’d ask you a question. “Is this what you want your photography and channel to become?” If yes that’s ok, but I suspect it isn’t.
    To be brutally honest (and please take this in the manner it’s intended and not as a negative but just an alternative view), I’d stopped watching your videos as to me they were getting a bit too negative and depressing. That’s not to say that you need to be all bubbly/positive and fluff. That’s just as bad. Perhaps by looking at the falling numbers, that’s putting you in a negative frame of mind, that comes through in the videos and thus it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
    Could I suggest taking a deep breath, taking a few hours out to reset why you’re doing the channel and what you want to get from it and what you’re trying to give to your audience. Once you know the answer to that question then ‘communicate it to your audience’, then reinforce it with every video.
    Keep your chin up, part of your appeal is that you’re honest and raw. Just have some self belief. (Not always easy i know) cheers Scott

  20. Hello, Chris. I’ve subscribed to your channel for a year or so now and continue to find your content engaging. However, you shoot in the Lake District almost exclusively, by your own preference. And you shoot a lot of the same locations, under similar conditions. As a result, I must say that some of your videos seem a bit repetitive in content. That may account for your viewership drop. You’re not showing enough new compositions or approaches to landscape photography.

    May I suggest you throw in a video or two to demonstrate your editing. Maybe even have a go at adding Photoshop to your processing workflow so you’re images have at least a different look. (It sure has for mine!) Shoot at the Peaks, or the shore, or anywhere else different that you can get to under lockdown conditions. Beautiful as it may be, cloudy mornings at Derwent Water can start getting a bit stale for your viewers.

    Thanks, and best wishes.

  21. When the weather is poor enough to keep photographers indoors its not surprising that you get despondent. We love sunshine or perhaps call it interesting light. A chance to get outside in breathtaking landscape makes me envious. I live the lakes but live in the south east so a weekly dose of your videos are just what i enjoy. However we do get a buzz from coastal scenes with crashing waves and Autumn colours. Managed Newhaven and Boxhill this week. Great days out but nothing beats the Lakes. Chin up.

  22. Hey Chris – trying another strategy (via my mobile) to comment on your blog since I’m still getting the Gateway error using web browser(s). Still, I’ve read them all. Anyway……

    Sounds like you had a rollercoaster of a week. The ups/downs with the lockdown must have you knackered. Hope I used that correctly.

    Exciting to hear about the potential for an online course. I’ve been an online university faculty member for 18+ years so if you need some help reach out via email – happy to provide any tips if you need them.

    Stay safe and see you online!
    Miguel

  23. Chris, Sounds a tough week. Like a few on here I watch you but probably not as much as I have. I am reluctant to offer advice. I am, like most, keen for you to succeed. As I have mentioned previously we see you as one of us who is brave and good enough to go pro. We are all willing you success. But, a) I would focus less on your journey to being a pro b)try to help me (us) become a better photographer c) go to a wood, a car park or just somewhere different because that is what some of us are faced with – and then show us how you get a shot. Keep going.

  24. Hi Chris: This is my first opportunity to contribute to your Blog discussions. Unfortunately, 2020 has been a year of great disappointment for pretty well everyone. We were very fortunate in being able to take two trips just before the Covid-19 lock down here in Canada. We had to cancel a trip planned for May 2020 that would have taken us to Norway and Scotland, but it had to be cancelled. While extremely disappointing at the time, it has given my wife and I the opportunity to re-assess what our trip would Scotland would look like in the future.

    As you know, we have decided to still come to the Scottish Highlands in the Fall 2021 as well as add two weeks to come to visit the Lake District. As a result, this will give us the opportunity to engage you for a number of sessions during our stay. To me, this is a BIG WIN!

    I know that you have discussed on a number of occasions the importance of expanding your income-streams. To that end, have you considered sharing your best shooting locations along with embedded images similar to how Mads Peter Iverson has done for several countries, including the Faroe Islands, Norway and Iceland. I feel that providing this level of service (for a fee) will enhance your reach of potential new contacts. As my wife and I travel around the world, we seek out resources that will enhance our limited time in each location.

    The value of your You Tube channel cannot be under-estimated. Keep Calm . . . and keep creating. Cheers, Keith

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