All over the world, events and gatherings, including photography events and workshops, are being canceled as part of measures to keep the COVID-19 from spreading further. Social distancing is also in effect to prevent the spread of the virus, so that means no shooting portraits with models and even strangers out in the streets. Client work and paid projects are also affected, making this dreaded disease such an ordeal for professional photographers. The biggest question, therefore, is how are photographers holding up? What are they doing to deal with the onslaught of COVID-19?
As always, we can turn to Reddit for answers. In his r/Photography thread, Pixel_Proxy asked how his fellow photographers are coping with the Coronavirus and its impact on their businesses. “I shoot events and I’ve already had multiple cancellations, and as someone who is just getting their start I’m extremely fearful for how this is going to impact me short-term and long-term,” he began his post. “I’m curious about how you guys are planning to cope with similar situations, and if you have any advice that might help me make it through this I’m all ears.”
Answers have been pouring in, with Redditors mentioning canceled shoots both local overseas, resulting in non-refundable tickets and flights. Others whose photography engagements pushed through were still worried about not making enough money in the long run as more events get canceled. Leads are drying up. Potential clients are pulling out. Projects are being outright canceled. Food photographers working for restaurants are also starting to brace for the inevitable decline of people wanting to go to restaurants or eating out. Less income for these restaurants, less likely for them to hire a photographer to shoot their menu.
Holding out for months with what funds they have left is the biggest concern for photographers whose current and upcoming projects have been canceled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. “I still have enough savings and recievables until May. If things don’t normalize by June I’m screwed,“ said Redditor Sinandomeng.
“Completely fucked! My largest client is a global fast food company… they just canceled their bi-annual convention that I’ve covered for the past decade. About $12k of work down the tubes,” likewise shared by Redditor Beefcake716. However, he also noted that remote work keeps him afloat. “My product clients are still going strong, since the shooting/retouching is mostly remote. I think there is going to be an uptick in remote jobs in the next couple months (I hope).”
Some photographers do think it can still be possible to do photography as a hobby, documenting how cities and landmarks look without all the people. With caution, of course. However, it may not be possible for everyone. For those who still want to get some professional work done, among the suggestions include shooting stock photos, or building/updating portfolio sites while the business is slow.
If, for some stroke of luck, you get a paid job despite everything happening due to the Coronavirus, Redditor thenerdyphoto has some important suggestions, “Get your finances in order. Make sure you have a good force majeure clause in your contracts. Learn how to protect yourself with proper hygiene, social distancing, etc.”
From the looks of things, we can only rely on personal and professional projects that we can do from the comforts of our home — photography or otherwise — for now. But most importantly, we need to keep safe and healthy and hold out until all the chaos finally comes to an end.