We are into the busy “announcement season” for the photography industry. This week is the start of PhotoPlus Expo at the Javits Convention Center in New York. In the run-up to this show, we’ve seen vendors announce new products and updates to entrenched classics.
It really is a time of change and for some, that can be a stressful time. Personally, I find the new products and features quite exhilarating. But, you don’t have to browse social media very long to realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm.
I’m amazed at the conversations that are fueled by rampant speculation. There certainly are some very knowledgeable people who are more than willing to share their expertise but you need to be careful - there’s plenty of… let’s just say not-as-bright people more than willing to share their naiveté.
What concerns me is the group that feels necessary to express their righteous indignation through insults and disparagement. They aim their wrath at companies, products, and even other commenters. And all too often these comments cross over into personal insults.
Dealing with change is like dealing with death. You go through phases. First is denial. Next, is resistance. This is the phase when personal distress levels rise and people are looking for someone to blame. We all handle this differently.
Last week Adobe announced new and updated products with Lightroom and Photoshop and it didn’t take long before the nay-sayers were spewing their vitriol. In just one thread about the updates you can find comments like; “My first thought.....after this, I’m ready to be done with Lightroom”, “I am devastated”, and“I can feel all the Adobe love draining away.” Yes, these are the tame comments.
In another thread, posters were discussing the newly announced releases from Macphun software that includes a new Luminar and a soon to be released digital asset management system. It didn’t take long for the tone of that conversation to turn nasty.
I don’t understand why so many people think that the only thing these companies should be doing is developing software tailored to their personal needs. There was criticism about the features being included in the digital asset management software and yet Macphun hasn’t even announced the feature set. There is criticism that the product is behind schedule - but of course, the company should release an inferior product because it fits your schedule.
One particularly critical poster expressed fury that he can’t decide whether the product will fit his needs unless the company announces all the details. Here’s the thing. If this product is so critical to how you operate your business then you need to wait until it is released and test it in your environment.
When Adobe was developing Lightroom I was fortunate enough to be in the pre-release testing group. I recall several members of that group just flaming about how the crop tool works. It was a dramatic change from the Photoshop crop tool that made you tilt your head it try and figure out if things were level. Finally, Jeff Schewe, one of the site moderators, finally jumped in and “politely” told folks to give it up. This was the new tool and that is what was going to be released.
Today, I can’t imagine why there was such pushback over this tool. It is now so intuitive and easy to use.
That brings me to the final two steps in dealing with change. The third step is exploration. This is when you realize that it’s not the end of the world and you’re willing to explore new ways of doing things. It’s also a period of high creativity as you take advantage of the new normal.
The final step is commitment. This is when you can now focus on your new course as you grow and adapt. And realize too that more change is coming. It’s a fact of life. Here are a few tips on how to cope with our ever-changing industry.
- Change is inevitable. Relax and adjust.
- If any camera or software is critical to your business success, then proceed with caution. When a new software update or camera model is announced, it doesn't change what you've been successfully using. Wait until you are confident that it can handle your business needs.
- Get through the Denial and Resistance phases of change as quickly as possible and Explore the new product. Become an expert - you'll be in the minority.
- If you don't like something, help change it. Work constructively with the vendor to share your ideas. Flaming on social media doesn't help anyone.
- If you can't change it, then, as Mya Angelou would say, "change your attitude. Don't complain."
Change is a good thing and we all must cope with change. But let’s try and move through the resistance phase as quickly as we can. And, let’s be more civil when we do.