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Profile of Ivan S. Harris from Ivan S. Harris Photography/Suede Social

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

– Maya Angelou

As the world starts to reopen, people are getting excited about things getting back to normal. But let’s be honest, no one really knows what that means. The world has shifted and changed, and everything that we once knew has shifted and changed as well. Some businesses and industries have experienced moderate changes in how they conduct their business. They’ve had to send people to work from home, they’ve had to institute facility sanitizing procedures for their facilities, and they’ve had to temporarily move their business exclusively online. 

But there are some industries and businesses where there is no recovery in sight, and that is a very scary situation for millions of Americans in industries like events, nightlife, entertainment, and travel. There’s not even an indication if these industries will be able to make a comeback. As scary as that prospect is, people who’ve had their businesses leveled by this pandemic, mustn’t let the fear of what’s to come (or not to come) destroy them as well.

In fact, as we continue to look at the phases of the phoenix’s transition, as a model to recover and recreate the business landscape, we enter the Renewal Phase of transformation. The Renewal phase consists of three parts: (1) clean up, (2) create, and (3) collaborate. There is a rare opportunity with the COVID19 crisis, for businesses and individuals to reinvent themselves and have an active hand in changing the way business is done in their industries and communities.

The idea of The Phoenix Project started incredibly early on during the COVID19 pandemic, I was looking for a way to support the small business and entrepreneurial community. I knew that this was not something I could create alone, so I called on friends and business associates that I have partnered with in the past. Ivan S. Harris, is the photographer and social media consultant behind The Phoenix Project, and I knew that he would be able to provide some amazing insights for entrepreneurs and business owners that were struggling to stay in front of their customers during the pandemic and beyond.

Meet Ivan S. Harris, Sr. Photographer and Creative Director for Suede Social

Ivan S. Harris

Ivan S. Harris has been a full-time event and nightlife photographer in San Diego, CA for the past 15 years. He has photographed some of the biggest celebrities in the world, including Beyonce, Nas, and Robert Downey, Jr. He has had consistent work as the house photographer for several nightclubs, and when he’s not shooting nightclubs, he is covering other large events, such as weddings, conferences, red carpets, shows, and concerts.

Death of an Industry

Ivan is a part of one of those industries that have been greatly impacted by the COVID19 crisis. In addition to his industry, Ivan also has had respiratory issues in the past, which render him especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. In other words, this has been a major challenge for Ivan, both professionally and personally. With so much uncertainty and so much fear, it’s not surprising that Ivan began to suffer from bouts of anxiety. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have provided information about managing stress and anxiety during the COVID19 pandemic. People around the world are experiencing this trauma at the same time, with similar outcomes.

When I asked Ivan if he could identify where his anxiety was coming from, he said from information: “It’s been a challenge just because there is so much information and so much misinformation. There’s just so much input coming in, you’re trying to figure out what is truth and what is garbage, so you can figure out how to move. It’s hard to pinpoint what the truth is.” 

With a degree in Journalism and a career in Photography, Ivan’s life has always been about knowing and processing substantial amounts of information and pushing that information back out in the form of a story. But this time around, there has been such an inundation of information with an unhealthy dose of rumors and myths disguised as fact, that what is usually his sweet spot, the processing of information, has turned into something sour. 

Additionally, Ivan’s business was essentially destroyed by the COVID19 crisis and based on the uncertainty of his industry and concerns for his personal health, there may be no coming back for Ivan’s photography business.

Finding Your Passion

As upsetting and frustrating as the COVID19 season has been, one thing it has provided for us is time. During the height of the Shelter-In-Place order, the world slowed down to a crawl. During that time, there has been a huge opportunity to create. In fact, The Phoenix Project was birthed during the storm and represents birthing something from the ashes. For a creative like Ivan, this time has allowed his creativity to flourish. 

When asked about the time we’ve been quarantined, he said “It has given me time to focus on this new direction I want to go in. It’s given me time to figure that out. Create content. Reset. Take a breather. Before it was always trying to work, book something, shoot something, or edit something. Not having too many deadlines has made it easier. It’s tough not knowing when money is coming in, but it’s been great to decompress from 15 years of “Go, Go, Go.” 

What are some of the things that Ivan has been working on? Storytelling to the max on social media.

  • Ivan kicked off a new show called “Now Playing” on his Instagram stories, that he used to connect his friends in the nightlife industry, with years of nightlife memories for everyone to enjoy while the clubs are shut down.
  • He has started creating videos on TikTok, that he uses to creatively send messages about everything from politics to movies.
  • Ivan has participated in different podcasts and live streams and is creating content for his own podcast.
  • He’s refocused his attention to creating entertainment vs just capturing entertainment.

Knowing When to Pivot

Ivan is working to completely change the direction of his business. When I asked him what prompted the change, he said there was no other option for him. This is what he said:

“This shut my business down completely. I’m an event photographer that can’t shoot events because there are no gatherings. Not being able to shoot events like nightclubs, weddings, happy hours… Through new endeavors, I’ve been able to start building a new brand with online content by being a content creator and dealing with other people’s content. I’m helping businesses and brands build their online presence, which is especially important right now.”

Ivan has always had a foot in the social media game, and he has always created fun content for his own social media accounts. But since he’s had to change the direction of his business, he’s focusing more on professional content creation and storytelling, f4st his camera lens.

Content is Crucial

Outtake from @IvanSHarris on TikTok

As a content creator, Ivan knows how important storytelling is. Your customers and potential customers are more likely to do business with someone that they find credible and relatable. Social media is the best tool for that type of engagement and interaction with your clients or customers. 

  • By consistently putting out content that educates people about your brand products and services, you are increasing the chance that their interest will be peaked when they are considering who to give their business to. 
  • When you create content that entertains your potential clients or customers, they are likely to remember you and your brand, when they are flooded with options. People won’t remember what you say to them, but they’ll always remember the way that you made them feel. 
  • Brands that create a social media strategy that engages their audience, will help them build a loyal community that trusts their brand. These outcomes will make your social media a powerful sales and marketing tool for your business and brand.

Working with a social media company, like Suede Social to help you build a social media strategy, will help you create the right social media campaign for your businesses’ outcomes.

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzche

There are several people and businesses that are feeling the same pressure and uncertainty as Ivan has experienced with his photography business. In fact, there may be more businesses and industries that are hit in the same way as the event and nightlife industry. We all need to be prepared to make major shifts, just as Ivan has had to do with his 15-year career. This is no time to be afraid to do something that you’ve always wanted to try or learn a new skill that you never had time to learn. This is the time to create and innovate in your life and within your business. Even with a business like mine, which was only somewhat impacted by the COVID19 crisis, I have found there are so many things that needed to be updated, changed, or improved. This has been the ideal time to make those changes.

As we continue to move into this new business landscape, it is essential that we work to continue to create content and consistently keep your message in front of your audience. If you are interested in working with Ivan and/or Suede Social, check out the following links:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ivansharrisphotography

Personal Instagram: www.instagram.com/ivansharris 

Instagram Growth and Social Media Management: www.suedesocial.com

To learn more about how to implement social media in your business, check out our interview below:

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