First 30 days of COVID pandemic
During the first 30 days of COVID, the daily news fed me. Photography, gardening, errands and planning for the future… all suddenly were very unimportant. Faced with the reality of a deadly pandemic, I prayed. I read. To fight anxiety, I meditated for hours, breathing deeply. Any of this sound familiar? In this post, I offer some photographer’s pandemic advice.
Cancelling of the Cherry Blossom Festival
Photographers around Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia were busy marketing and advertising services for photo shoots during the festival of the Cherry Blossoms. These beautiful trees are celebrated annually by millions of incoming visitors to Washington DC. As news began trickling in about the pandemic, the festival was a topic of conversation by many photographers who had client bookings. The cancelling of the Cherry Blossom Festival marked the beginning of many photographer’s reality that this was seriously a thing.
IG feeds of my favorite photographers mentioned wedding cancellations. Brides reported wedding venues being cancelled. A cascade effect was being posted on Twitter for wedding planners, caterers, photographers, florists, DJs. Sports photographers posting similar stories as games were called off.
Governors throughout the United States banned public gatherings. State-wide quarantines were discussed. Suddenly, we were warned that every human is a potential threat vector for catching the deadly virus. This was our “new normal”. I continued to pray. I continued to meditate, focusing on deep breathing. The following is photographer’s pandemic advice I share from my own experience.
Stay on a schedule
Your normal schedule is not possible during a pandemic-induced lockdown. Stay productive and stay on a schedule as best you can. Make necessary schedule changes positive such as catching up with family and customers. Take a class online. Self improvement will make you feel better. If you have to cancel events, stay in contact to ensure you are ready to get back to work with your customers when the lock down eases.
Take time to organize everything… Organize your thoughts, your photography gear, your office. Clean photography equipment and take inventory. Create those affiliate marketing links and list your preferred gear such as I did. Finalize your taxes.
Reach out to past customers and potential customers. Update your website. Take an online class. Practice new photography techniques. Offer free photography for a change to help others. Create your own photography backdrop such as I did. Read a book and blog your list of top reads.
Depression happens during a pandemic. Sleeping in late, not showering, drinking coffee all day. Thinking the worst is about to happen… and, generally, just being in a state of mild shock daily as you hear about people dying all around will depress you. Fight depression. Prepare to force yourself to grow during this forced downtime. Stay on a schedule of self improvement and look forward to the re opening of businesses and events. One way to fight depression is to be kind and find ways to support others who are struggling in some way.
Review photography contracts
Take time to dust off those contracts and review them. Look at contract wording that speaks to how you will handle cancellations. Talk with your legal team. Think about how you want to handle enforcement on a case by case basis. What will be your business model? What will you have in place in the event your customers want out of their contracts or to change dates, etc.? Would collecting deposits alleviate unexpected events?
Plan for loss of income
Financial loss will happen during a pandemic. Get reacquainted with your CPA to best plan for loss of income. Estimate your business losses. Should your business establish an emergency fund just for this type unexpected event? Planning for how events may change the way you operate your business is critical to ensuring you stay in business during a crises.
Read and update your insurance policy
Most photographers carry liability insurance. Read your business insurance policy. Make adjustments as needed and insure your business appropriately. Prior to COVID, a pandemic was not considered an act of God for insurance purposes. What was your experience during COVID? Make a list of concerns based on your experience. Review your policy and talk to your insurance provider.
Protect your photography equipment
The COVID pandemic changed our work flows and how we operate day to day. For pathogens, we started wearing face masks. We purchased protective coverings for our gear such as rain wraps and alcohol wipes. We learned that UV light kills surface bacteria. Perhaps you want to install a lamp in your studio to bathe your equipment for up to 12 hours after use. Protecting your photography equipment should be part of your new work flows in the future.
Learning to control your anxiety is huge when a pandemic happens. When you are running a business, your decisions, and how you respond, will play a role in the success or failure of your business. People deal with anxiety in different ways. It is important to take time for yourself and do whatever it is that gives you peace. Center yourself and visualize how your day will flow. During the COVID pandemic, we learned “we are all in this together”. Have a support plan for ensuring communication with those you love. Be prepared to exercise your preferred communication with your customers and how you will take control of anxiety that will happen.
The COVID pandemic impacted people across the world and small businesses everywhere. I hope no less than a hundred years pass before we hear about a pandemic again. The COVID pandemic was stressful for the entire world. Perhaps in the same way we searched for stories about how people endured during the Spanish Flu during the 1900s, people will one day look for pandemic advice to cope with a future virus.
I look forward to comments how others learned and worked through the COVID pandemic. I hope this photographer’s pandemic advice was helpful. If you are a small business owner, what advice can you add?