This is a difficult blog to write. We are living in difficult times. COVID-19 has turned our world upside down. Some of us are feeling scared, either for ourselves or our loved ones. Some of us, myself included, are worried about our businesses.
This is a difficult blog to write… not because I don’t know what to say (those who have heard me speak know I am rarely lost for words) but because I want to get the tone of it right. I want to encourage you, energise you and inspire you. I don’t want you to be fearful.
This is a difficult blog to write… because I’m not an expert in most of this, so there is a chance I might make mistakes. All I can do is to talk about how I am dealing with this and hopefully some of that will help you too.
But mostly it is difficult to write because there is a risk that you may think I am using this tragedy to promote my services. I’m not. I genuinely want to help but I also believe you need to know the situation that I am in because of this crisis.
Fear and Emotions
My emotions are all over the place at the moment. And it can change very quickly. Sometimes I am fearful about this virus – I don’t want to catch it, and I worry about family and friends – particularly those who are more at risk. Then moments later I might feel energised and determined – I’m not going to let this get me down. The deeply moved when I see people being kind and selfless. At other times I’m tired and shattered – for someone who really isn’t earning anything at the moment, I’ve never been busier.
It is entirely normal for us to go through those emotions, and I mention how I am feeling so that you know that you if you are feeling any or all of these emotions, you are not alone. And if you feel you are alone then try and reach out to someone else. Telephone, email, Facebook, facetime, whatever method you like. They will probably be just as grateful to have someone to talk to.
For Photography Business
I know some who read my blog are in the photography business, either full time or part-time. Things do look pretty dire at the moment but there are things you can do and should be doing at this time.
- Try to stay positive – this WILL end – I put this first and I know it is easier to say than to do. But try to focus on what you want your business to be like when this is over and use the time to prepare yourself for that time
- Get your accounts up to date – At the time of writing the UK government hasn’t really offered anything for the self-employed. Hopefully, that will change, there is a lot of pressure being put on Government to make sure we don’t left behind. We might not know what they will eventually offer, but the chances are that you will need to be able to show that you have lost income, and how much. To do that you will need your accounts up-to-date. And even if you don’t need them for that think how much you will be able to enjoy December and January knowing that you are not having to panic over your account to do your tax return!
- Talk to your creditors (such as your landlord) and try to negotiate payments or reductions – Some landlords have already started offering to reduce rents. But if you are concerned about your studio rent – talk to them now. After all what’s the worst thing that they can say? If they say “no” you are no worse off than you are now.
- Diversify if you can – It’s not possible for everyone but some photographers can diversify. In my case, I’m starting to offer livestreaming facilities (not had any paid work from this yet) and I am making headway on getting my training courses on line (that a big job and won’t be finished before this crisis is over).
For those in Isolation
The chances are the most of us will have to self-isolate at some point or other during the crisis. While it is tempting to spend the time on the sofa with binging on the latest boxset, why not use the time to work on your photography?
- Use the time to catch up on your photo processing backlog – I bet there isn’t a photographer in the land who hasn’t got some images that they need to process, caption, or keyword. Why not use the time to get up to date? You never know when this is all over you might have cleared that backlog.
- Read up on new techniques and learn new skills – maybe there is a new photographic skill that you’ve been meaning to master. Perhaps you suck at HDR? Ever wondered how to do focus stacking? Want to master black and white conversion in Lightroom or learn to edit videos in Davinci Resolve? What a great time to learn.
- Plenty of things you can photograph at home – yes honestly there is. You can create abstracts from household objects, photograph garden birds on a bird feeder. Images of smoke patterns or water droplets. I’ve been sending out ideas to my Academy Members to inspire them.
For all Photographers
Whether you are isolated or not there are some things that we can all do.
- Take exercise! – I put this at the top because it is important for so many reasons. Keeping healthy and fit will aid you in fighting off illnesses. The serration that is produced in the brain from exercise has an uplifting effect. It’s a sort of natural, legal, high! If you are not confined to your home try and take a walk outside – keeping your distance from others of course. Or going out for a jog. If you can’t go out there’s plenty of things you can do at home from walking up and downstairs to arm exercises with a couple of baked bean cans in each hand. (Assuming you’ve been able to find any in the shops that is).
- Try a different genre of photography – Perhaps you are a studio photographer who works with models. Why not try your hand at landscape photography, or practice your wildlife skills. Some of the skills you learn from a different genre you will be able to apply to your main type of photography. Landscape photography will help you shoot a model in landscapes in the future. Wildlife photography will teach you the skills to photograph people in motion.
- Start planning your future shoots – Start thinking now and planning now about your future shoots. Talk to the models you want to work with – it’ll be a great encouragement to them to know that there will be people who want to work with them once this is over. Research on-line the places you want to visit. Looking ahead and fixing your mind on what you will be doing in the future will help keep your emotions on the positives and not the negatives.
How can Ian’s Studio help you?
I am here to help. That’s why I’m spending time writing this blog post. But let me level with you – I’m not 100% altruistic, I want to help the photography community at large – irrespective of whether they are members of my Academy of not. I split what I am doing between free content and content for my Academy members.
You will probably already know that I offer the following for free:
- Weekly YouTube livestreams – on Sunday nights – on them I am covering all sorts of topics from beginner tutorials, through Lightroom editing and a free Q&A session for your photography questions
- Back catalogue of blog posts on different topics – https://www.ians-studio.co.uk/photographers/blog/ If you want to read up on different photographic techniques I’ve scores of articles on my website. I have images and posts where I talk about how/why they are created.
- 80+ YouTube videos – https://www.youtube.com/iansstudiostockport/ If you look on YouTube you will find images on all sorts of photographic topics
- Community space to get feedback on images – https://www.ians-studio.co.uk/photographers/community/ it used to be called a ‘forum’ but I’ve changed the name and I am in the processes of relaunching it as a ‘community’. You can post questions here and ask for feedback on your images.
- Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/iansstudio/ A place where you can share your images with other photographs, share ideas and get feedback on your images.
All those resources should be a good starting point for anyone who is wondering what they can do photographically while our lives appear to be on hold.
But In addition to this I offer some extra resources to my Academy members. The includes:
- Academy Bites – Short resources ideas and techniques based around a specific theme. In response to the problems of self-isolation I’m currently producing a series on “Photo Shoots from home” – there are over 120 of these Academy bites published on the website.
- On line training – I am currently working through my training catalogue and recording them – some I am sharing on my weekly Livestream the others going straight into the Academy
- Back catalogue of 50+ Inspiration Sheets – advice on techniques for shooting all sorts of topics including fireworks, fill-in flash, and painting with light. Many of them are project that you can do from home such as how to photography the moon, how to create abstracts from household objects, or create images of money.
- Lighting Sheets – If you are using your time to plan your next model shoot you might find the archive of different lighting setups helpful.
How can you help Ian’s Studio?
Let me be honest with you for a little while. I love helping other photographers – I do it because I enjoy it and I get a ‘kick’ out of seeing people improve with their photography. But I also have a business to run, and that’s a worry at a time when the vast majority of my paid work has dried up. So what do I have left? In reality, the only income stream I now have is my Academy. And for that to be sustainable I need to at least treble the number of subscribers this year.
For that reason, I now have to focus my attention on getting more members. So if you are already a member – I want to say a huge, huge thank you – it means a lot to me.
If you aren’t a member yet, let me reassure you that I am still going to provide a lot of free content.
I know there are some of you reading this that are concerned and worried about the future and need to watch every penny to spend. If that’s you, I totally understand, please keep on consuming the free stuff that I provide and thank you for being interested.
But there are some of you whose jobs are secure and if you find the free stuff that I provide helpful, then please consider becoming an Academy member. It really is the best way you can help me at this time, and it only costs £6 per month – what’s that? The price of two Starbuck Coffees? or One and a half pints of beer at the pub? Or a large meal at McDonald’s. (Do I need to mention that all of these outlets are now closed and you can’t spend your money there anymore?)
I am going to be talking about and taking questions about how COVID-19 has affected photographers on my Livestream this week. You can find the link to set a reminder and to view it below.
Be encouraged – especially if you are stuck at home. Let me know if you need help. Take a moment to think about how you might be able to help others too.
And yeah, it definitely was a difficult blog to write – I am not convinced I don’t come over as a begging letter. Sorry.
Until next time, keep MAKING great images,
Do you find the information in these blog posts helpful?
Did you know that Academy members get a weekly Inspiration Sheet with loads more hints, tips and advice than I ever put in the newsletter? Also, each month Academy Members get a downloadable monthly PDF with all of that month’s blog posts in a magazine format that is easy to keep or print for future reference.
So what are you waiting for?
It only costs £6 per month or £60 for a year. Not only does The Academy provide you with regular photography advice, and discounts on training at the studio, but joining the academy helps me keep this blog and it’s associated free newsletter going.