Dirk Heydemann owns and is the principal photographer of HA Photography, a full-time professional commercial photography studio. HA photography’s images have been published locally, nationally and internationally in magazines, including Douglas, as well as annual reports, books and billboards as far away as China.
How is HA photography coping right now?
All in all, we are doing fairly well. I am so fortunate to be stuck with two of the best, craziest people in the world, my awesome wife and my amazing daughter, and there’s also our silly cat Emmett who is ruler of the realm. We’ve had good days and other days that challenge us. Overall, it has been a time for reflection of what is important. It has been nice to slow down and spend more quality time with the family. I am looking forward to getting back to work full-time and seeing all my amazing clients. I will look at this time as an opportunity to spend more time building other aspects of my business and an irreplaceable bonding experience with my family.
How has the pandemic affected your business, and how do you anticipate it will continue to affect it?
The pandemic pretty much put an immediate halt to my full-time photography business. Because of the shut down, so many photo shoots that I was looking forward to were cancelled, everything from event photography like VIEA’s Island Summit, shooting interiors for my builder clients so they could enter the VIBE awards, as well as a multitude of business portraits. However, on the positive side, these cancellations allotted me time to focus on other important tasks that I didn’t prioritize before. I built a brand new website, as well as an image bank featuring images of Vancouver Island, both of which have now launched.
Though photography is not an essential service, I know that it will be essential in aiding businesses to succeed once the financial markets restart. It is incredibly valuable to have strong professional images to help market their products and services in a way they can shine above the rest. And I have already been getting inquiries for new work, which is a hopeful sign for our economy at large. I do anticipate start up may be slow because we are all taking necessary precautions, my business included, but I am ok with that! That’s why BC (and especially Vancouver Island) has done so well flattening the curve.
What advice are you giving yourself for riding this out?
It’s okay to have bad days; it’s all part of navigating a pandemic. It’s okay to have a day where you feel like you haven’t accomplished much. I also think it’s important to reward my family and myself when we’ve had good days. I find building routines, getting out and getting exercise and connecting with friends and clients have really helped.
What is the opportunity in the challenge for you and your business?
The Chinese defined the word crisis as “a dangerous opportunity.” I believe that that perfectly defines these times. We have the choice of sitting idly by and letting things happen to us or taking the bull by the horns and designing and driving our path forward. I have taken this time to create a new website, and an image bank, but the most exciting opportunity for me is that I am also in the process of building an online photography education program. I’ve wanted to do this for years. My wife always said I was a natural teacher, so here I go! There’s no way that I would’ve been able to complete this with the workload I had previous to the pandemic. I’m also taking this extra time to connect with my clients, checking in with them to see how they’re doing personally. This business, like so many in the service section is about building relationships. Authentic ones.
What advice have you applied or are you applying from previous experiences coping with crisis.
My biggest take away from times when business was very slow, was just to keep pushing through and don’t give up. Now is the time to be creative, check in with my clients, and talk to my peers about new marketing ideas and ways to stay relevant. Now more than ever it’s important to stay front of mind and relevant with clients, because when the time comes for business to restart, your business will be the first they think to hire. This has worked for me in the past, and I believe it will work again today.
What are your resources right now? Do you have a mentor supporting you, peer group books you read?
My biggest inspiration is my wife Ronei Faganello. She is a talented hairdresser and salon owner, a fine artist and a very successful entrepreneur in both fields. She has been innovative and creative and finds ways to connect with her clients in a genuine and professional manner. I am so very fortunate to have such a good friend, colleague and wife to inspire me. I have also a business coach that has been a very useful resource during these interesting times. And I also have a Masterminds group, we check in every two weeks. We celebrate what we’re doing that is successful and help each other navigate our pitfalls. I’m fortunate to be on the board for Leadership Vancouver Island and a committee member for VIEA. I am very impressed with these teams and how they have handled the pandemic crisis in a progressive meaningful way.
What advice do you have for others experiencing this alongside you?
Allow yourself to have some crappy days and applaud the days that are awesome. These two experiences can co-exist. We live in the best part of the world, so go for lots of walks! Nature is a great healer. Connect with the ones you love, and those that are important to you. It’s been a gift connecting with many people I have not heard from in a long time.
Most importantly, give yourself grace, these are challenging times indeed, something we have never gone through before. Be kind to yourself and your family. Be kind to your friends, acquaintances and co-workers. And be kind to strangers. Everyone is dealing with this in the best way they can, some are doing better and some not so well, but everybody has their story. Together we will get through this and will be stronger and wiser from it.