The creative arts like photography can suffer when we enter a global crisis. Our recent health crisis came out of nowhere and was very damaging to my business. My Iceland tours were all conducted in SUVs, so avoiding the COVID regulations would have been impossible. My final customers cancelled on the second day of their 5 day tour because they feared that their flight back to Canada would be cancelled if they delayed. You can’t reasonably run holidays amidst so much fear and panic.
I remember the story of two brothers who were photographing a stormy lighthouse scene in Australia. A freak wave swept them both out to sea. One brother died and the other survived. When questioned, the surviving brother described how his brother started panicking and tried to fight his way back to the shore. He became exhausted and finally drowned The surviving brother realised that fighting was futile and just relaxed until the sea became calmer. He wouldn’t have survived otherwise.
It may feel that your photography business is dead in the water. It’s inevitable after a couple of years of lockdowns and social distancing. There are ways to keep afloat with a bit of creativity. Photographers are never short of a bit of creativity. I bet the part of nature photography that you enjoyed the most was solving problems. The important thing is not to panic.
6 Ways to help you survive
- Previous customers
Your previous customers can be a great source of revenue, even in a time when you can’t take new photographs. Contact them about printing their photos. Offer resources where they can turn their photographs into gifts such as phone cases or mugs. If you offer your own photography as prints, you could offer discounts to your old customers. As well as sales, you could make a commission too. If you have a mailing list, be sure to keep subscribers updated on any new services or news.
- Build Your Social Networks
As long as you stay clear of opinionated posts, the social media giants like Facebook and Twitter can be great ways to connect with potentially future customers. It is a great way to keep the traffic coming to your website. Try posting lots of non-commercial posts to avoid being throttled and to build a wider audience. Use the platforms to connect with other photographers in a similar situations. Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have all fallen into disrepute lately with their censorship and fact-checking. They are not to be trusted. But that shouldn’t hurt you if you are just sharing photos or your new blog posts.
- Explore New Niches
There are plenty of avenues to make money with your photography. If you can no longer run tours and workshops, then you could design and run online courses. Zoom and Skype are great ways to bring some face time to your customers. With a bit of technical know-how, you could be running live Photoshop sessions. A one on one Photoshop or Lightroom lesson can be very valuable. If the idea of having to teach people online don’t appeal to you, you could always look to create ebooks or videos to sell online. A popular ebook could generate income for years to come.
- Refine Your Skills
If you find yourself with spare time, then this could be an opportunity to update your camera skills or even learn new photography tricks. Online courses are the way to go, but there is plenty of great photography tutorials out there on Youtube. So, if you are unable to fly to exotic locations, or are made to stay at home, try some macro photography in the garden. Keep yourself challenged and open to learning new things… even if you thought you knew everything.
- Create fresh content
Downtime could be your opportunity to create new content for your website. Pull out some archive photos and write the stories behind the picture. If you are not a writer, make a video of you telling the story. Putting fresh content on your website will keep your traffic high and may attract potential customers. It is possible to generate an income through your website content with affiliate links. Many big camera sellers have affiliate schemes. The affiliate program I use is called Skimlinks. They connect you to all the big Camera Stores, like B&H, Adorama, WEX etc.
- Update Safety Protocols
If you plan on getting back in events, workshops etc, you should take the time to implement the best safety protocols around COVID-19. Get the correct PPE if you have a studio. Invest in sanitizer equipment that will keep your environment safe. Publish a safety plan that will ensure you keep your customers and yourself confident when you return to work. Make your safety plan known in all your marketing materials so that customers don’t have to search for it.
This ongoing Corona pandemic, can be a chance for a new beginning and doesn’t mean the end of your photography business. It just requires a bit of creativity and the absence of panic.