Landscape photographer grows business in age of digital disruption



With everyone now walking around with a great camera attached to their smartphone, few industries have been disrupted by technology quite so much as photography – just ask Kodak.

However, a small Auckland based business, David Kerr Photography, has successfully weathered the storm and, thanks to some great advice, ensured his landscape photography business not only survived, but thrived.

David first ventured into landscape photography 35 years ago, while working as an art director in the UK. Self-taught in the art of capturing the world around him, David honed his skills shooting imagery in both the UK and Europe.

In 1985 David returned home to New Zealand to become a full-time photographer. He spent the 80s and 90s producing work, including the images for marketing collateral and annual reports, for an impressive list of corporate clients. However, after the global financial crisis hit in 2007, David found it increasingly difficult to sell his products and services.

“After the rise of the internet and technology, everyone suddenly had a mobile phone. My previous customers were able to take high-quality photos very easily, and the demand for my work fell away.”

Through the Chambers of Commerce, David was put in touch with Business Mentors New Zealand. The not-for-profit organisation paired him with volunteer mentor Chris Reid. With extensive experience across multiple industries, including transport and tourism, Chris was able to help David navigate the challenges he faced.

“Chris had an understanding of my business and my industry. He understood the impact that digital disruption could have on someone like me. His experience of the publishing world, and access to excellent contacts, were key to helping me turn my business around,” says David.

Following a suggestion from Chris, David secured corporate sponsorship for a book that would showcase the New Zealand landscape, and that could be used as a gift for corporate customers. “In an age where everything is viewed on a screen, Chris recognised the value of something tangible. I took his advice and the book has been incredibly popular. In fact, it has already been reprinted twice!”

As well as direct sales to his corporate clients, David has been able to sell the book through a New Zealand distributor, as well as via Bartercard – which provides business opportunities to members by converting unutilised trading capacity and excess inventory into business opportunities with new customers. The trade exchange system allows over 24,000-member businesses to benefit from the cashless economy of bartering using an alternative, electronic currency – Trade Dollars.

“I’ve used Bartercard to sell the book, but also to hire graphic designers to assist with my corporate work. It acts as another source of revenue, but also helps to minimise my business costs,” adds David.

Business Mentors New Zealand’s own services can now be accessed and paid for via Bartercard, which is a cost-effective solution for any business owner in search of an effective mentoring programme.  

David and Chris now meet every 2-3 months, with Chris currently coaching David through the publication of two more photography books.

“Chris’ guidance has helped me turn my business around during a difficult time for photographers. I always discuss my plans with him before making a decision, and his understanding and flexibility means I will continue to enlist his help for years to come. It’s encouraging to know that Bartercard and Business Mentors New Zealand partner to support small business owners.”