The good news is that my photography isn't a significant portion of my income. The bad news is also that my photography isn't a significant portion of my income.
I think a lot depends on your market niche.; stock vs. art. My recent sales seem to be almost entirely small, less expensive stuff. I think that you need to determine what your current sales trends are and then try to expand those. I recently added greeting cards to my offerings just because they're inexpensive. While I don't expect to make millions from them it gets my images out; hopefully triggering follow-on business once the purse strings loosen a bit.
Things are tough all over. Postage and paper costs are up; subscriptions are down; pages are fewer so fewer photos are purchased. The photographers and publishers who are going to survive are going to be the ones who can find ways to cut costs without cutting corners.
Analogies can be made with animals that hunker down during droughts like the spadefoot toadó one solution- hibernate! But a better idea might be to just be more clever. Photographers can spend more time studying their markets and what they need more carefully. Piggybacking assignments and trips so that several pieces can be done with one trip. There are as many good ideas as there are of us. Bring 'em on.
What will happen is that we will all be leaner and more creative in the end. I know that I can benefit from both of those enhancements.
I had to add a few more workshops, to match last years $$. Even with that I am going to be down about 20%. I am traveling somewhat cheaper and watching costs. I am also spending more time in my office marketing than before. I use my blog ( www.jackgrahamsblog.com) as well as newsletters using Constant Contact to let my mailing list know whats happening.Getting the word out to the right folks is important.
Lets hope 2010 brings improvement. IN the meantime, working as lean as possible is important.
Things got pretty bad starting last October. Sales of fine art prints at shows (that had been going very well in earlier 2008) dropped significantly. They rose slightly this Spring, then this Summer they hit bottom again.
The sad news is that I'm not sure it's all about the economy. It's my observation that the rise of low cost digital photography has resulted in the devaluation of photographic art in general as more and more folks are interested in trying to do it themselves and less interested in buying the work of seasoned artists... every established (and newbie, too) photographer seems now to be selling workshops or otherwise catering to this new market.
By "photographic art", I mean art that appears, by nature, photographic. Witness the trend of photographers at shows making their photographs into pseudo-paintings by flattening the tones in PP and printing on canvas to create a "painterly" effect (and it keeps costs down - no frames, no glass, etc.). Those of us whose bread and butter is crisp and sharp don't want to go this route. It seems the painters are suffering the most by this trend, as they tend to charge more for their work.
I can only hope this is a trend, but I'm not so sure this isn't here to stay.
Diversification appears to be the only way right now.
Sorry to sound negative; there are opportunities, but you must be ever resourceful or be content to make your living mostly by doing something else.
The magazine assignment business is basically gone and this has really hurt my business. Stock sales, which used to be great, are now down by at least 65% even with my stock agencies! I am now discovering that my workshops and the writing side of my business are really picking up so that's where I'm concentrating my efforts for now. I believe you have to realistically evaluate the market and see where you fit in and then just go for that always with your finger on the pulse of the situation. Editors and publishers are suffering too so maybe if we can help each other we can get through this somehow!