The COVID-19 has caused massive impacts to the world since the first quarter of Year 2020. This situation is not getting lesser or smaller, with more countries implementing stricter measures such as lockdown. The economic impacts and downturn have been felt across many industries, with the travel, tourism aviation industries being the first few to be badly hit, before spreading to other parts of the world economy. Photographers are not spared from this COVID-19 induced economic downturn, a world recession is looming above us, there aren’t any signs of recovery just yet and we really hope a vaccine would be made available soon. As a sole proprietorship photography business owner, it’s a very difficult and turbulent time ahead. How can we photographers, whether you are freelance photographer or a registered photography business entity, face off this downturn and manage it? This is definitely not going to be an easy time, here are some tips for photographers during this COVID-19 situation.
First and foremost, I would share on two approaches, photography related tips, followed by non-photography related tips, for fellow photographers (as well as for other fellow creative industries and from other industries too)
First and foremost, whether you are a freelancer photographer or registered photography business, u can’t run away from this downturn, we are in this and feeling the impacts together.
Upgrade your skillsets / Learn a new genre
Lifelong learning is a personal and professional philosophy that I uphold. In my photography, on both personal and professional basis, I always seek to learn, improve and upgrade my photography skillsets and even learn a new genre of photography.
Drone photography is a new skillset that I would like to learn, videography and filmmaking is another genre that I would like to learn more in the advanced level. I would also take the time to continuously improve my current photography genre skill levels.
Curation of photography portfolios
Take the time to curate and make changes to your existing photography portfolios, whether removing old photographs or adding new photographs to showcase your works, it’s a good time to do some housekeeping. On both professional and personal front, time to add new works to my Format portfolio and MakersPlace portfolio websites, removing old photographs from my 500px, while for flickr, time to add more photographs (leisure and personal).
Start personal projects / Revive personal projects / Rediscover your love for photography
This is perfect time to start your personal photography projects that you have been thinking and planning all this while! Personally, I started working on my photo zine, launched my trial/pre-launch photo zine and working towards regular publishing of my photo zines.
Doing commercial work or photography shoots where you derive revenue/income from, it can dampen your love for photography. Rediscover your love for photography again, you might discover something inside your photography again!
Explore your local neighbourhoods and parks
Don’t be confined at home, stuck to social media, or screens watching dramas/movies. Bring your camera out, explore your local neighbourhoods and parks, this might just be the spark to rediscover your love for photography in other genres.
Open up the creativity inside you – visit museums, art galleries
There is always a creative and artistic element in us photographers, we sometimes don’t feel, see or sense it, and we sometimes view other photographers works, asking ourselves questions whether we should or can be like them. Now, go beyond the photographers cliche, visit museums, art galleries, explore the other artistic and creative sectors.
Networking, collaboration, partnerships
We all have a group of different photographer friends and groups, during networking time, have a chat and see if any chance of collaboration and partnerships. Not every photographer is willing to work, collaborate or partner with you though, do take note!
Photography is not just purely taking photographs, editing photographs. Running it as a freelance photographer or business entity, you have to incorporate non-photography segments such as marketing, business development, accounting, networking etc etc.
Read more books
Reading a wide and diverse range of books and topics, open up our eyes to the big wide world, it’s not just about gaining more knowledge. This might just light the creative spark hidden inside you. I highly recommend you to read “No Missing Tools” by Fernando Gros.
Learn other skills, knowledge in non-photography areas
From digital marketing, social media marketing, accounting, all these skills and knowledge in non-photography areas can help you run and manage your photography business better and more efficient.
Practice good personal hygiene, keep fit and healthy
If the COVID-19 virus situation has not waken you up, this is time to reflect on your personal hygiene standards, practice good personal hygiene. Oh yes, please keep fit and healthy, for better physical and mental health.
Spend time with family, loved ones
At times, we don’t spend enough time with family and loved ones. Take the time to spend quality time with them, this would allow us to appreciate our relationship and time even better.
Fighting inner demons, stress, pressure, breakdown, depression
We all have different commitments to take care of, family, children, loans, expenses, some have more, some have less. During this downturn when revenue is severely affected, some of us photographers might be put under tremendous stress and pressure. This is real, please be careful if you are feeling the breakdown or facing depression. Don’t let them take over your brain, heart and soul, seek help, talk and find solutions with your family and loved ones.
Diversify when the opportunity arises
The old school of thought and teaching is learning and specialising in one skill/profession/job, becoming an expert in it. While it is still true, the modern era of working, it’s just not enough to be specialised in one expertise, diversify into other industries when the opportunity arises. Additional sources of income are more prudent and strategic in the modern era of working.
It’s a very harsh (capitalist) world out there
Like any other business in a capitalist society, a photography business is similar to other industries, running and maintaining a business is even more difficult and tougher than starting a business. Doing business is cut throat and survival of the fittest, sometimes, we photographers ask why other photographers don’t really help each other in crisis periods like this COVID-19 situation when we should unite and help each other whenever possible.
Nevertheless, I hope photographers, whether freelancer or business entities would unite together during this very difficult period instead of protecting their own turf and interests.
It’s not everything
Sharing my personal list of tips is not exhaustive and I can’t possibly cover every aspect and angles. There are other articles published online as well on tips to manage, survive this COVID-19 virus situation period. Do visit and check out the other articles too.
None of us is going through a good time, whether you are a photographer or in another industry. We are in this ship together, sailing through very choppy and turbulent ocean, it’s going to get worse. Let’s be nice to each and everyone around us, support and encourage each other, practice good personal hygiene, don’t spread fake news, don’t hoard items, don’t be paranoid.
Last but not least, Continue to Keep Calm and Carry On
I know, no matter what we say or write, it’s really a very difficult situation to be in right now. As we continue to lead a normal life with more common sense, better understanding of the world situation, let’s all continue to keep calm and carry on, wash your hands, stay fit and healthy.
We will get through this crisis, we need to stay #SGUnited and fight COVID-19 together, along with the rest of the people on Earth.