COVID-19 caused an unpredictable block in the road for many industries, from travel to retail, but one industry that’s been impacted that people often forget about is the creative industries. This includes photography, and event photographers most of all. So what have event photographers been doing to adapt to these unprecedented times?
The biggest challenge faced by event photographers in 2020 was that lockdown approached so quickly that there wasn’t really enough time for freelancers and businesses to put together a new strategy for the year. Meanwhile, bookings started slowing down and in some cases came to an absolute standstill - especially for wedding photographers where weddings were getting cancelled and postponed.
Social media presence
In the decline of demand for event photographers, any work that was coming about was becoming increasingly competitive. So in response, many event photographers took to social media to build their brand presence and increase their following.
This strategy has been worthwhile for a lot of artists, one example being @blcksmth on Instagram who has seen a surge in followers since lockdown thanks to his bright imagery which often has important or humorous messaging.
Social media is an important tool for creatives but often put on the backburner to prioritise client work, so being able to take some time out of contracts to polish up Instagram, Twitter etc will be a big help when events are back up and running again.
Winning new work when you’re a photographer is often extremely competitive and takes a lot of hard work. Picking a photographer as a client relies heavily on testimonials and case studies to see their photography style and some of their past work.
As work becomes harder to find, it’s a bit tricky to have up to date testimonials and case studies to really showcase your talent. A clever workaround to keep themselves in practice and keep their case studies up to date saw photographers taking on more of their personal projects, you know, the projects that you’ve wanted to do for ages but obviously work that pays the bills takes priority.
Some photographers used this as an opportunity to brush up their skills in certain settings, beaches, forests, indoors. Test new lighting. Practice with their kids and pets. Other photographers used this to do more charitable projects around their local area offering doorstop photoshoots, at a reduced price and donating a certain percentage of the income to charity. For example, award winning photographer, Neil Wykes, from Edinburgh has been offering doorstep family photoshoots in exchange for a £5 donation to the NHS. Ideas like these are keeping photographers active and providing much needed exposure.
Suddenly, especially if you’re a freelancer photographer - a regular income becomes more of a challenge than ever, which feels unsettling and scary. With more and more cancellations and all new bookings being written in pencil from the anticipation of a cancellation it’s ‘certainly uncertain’. The good news? You can survive this. Freelancers come with the adaptability trait built in and creative businesses come with job security.
Now is the time to move away from your niche, if that was events like festivals or weddings, networking events or sporting events, and offer new photography services in order to survive the times. Keeping an eye on which industries are opening up creates opportunities. For example, with the housing market being ‘on the move’ again, you might want to offer up your services to estate agents for home photoshoots to advertise properties. Consider family photoshoots now that multiple households can get together, and just keep a fresh approach to your work as the world starts to open up.
A new way of life
When events start to gradually return, photographers will have to adapt to a new way of life. Where you’d usually be able to share a casual handshake or hug between clients, will now be replaced with less physical contact. Alongside this it’s taking the precaution to keep the people you’re taking photos of at events at a safe distance, which will definitely be a challenge for wedding photography. On top of this there’s making sure there’s always face masks and hand sanitiser in the camera bag.
This sums up where the world of event photography currently is, the best advice going forwards is, continue to work on personal products and build your brand and portfolio. Show support online and watch the support you’ll receive in return, even if all you do is comment on another artist's work. Stay motivated!