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Photography during the coronavirus pandemic

How do you get your business going again after the coronavirus pandemic? What is the state of photography during the coronavirus pandemic? Like many other businesses, photography businesses were hit hard during Covid-19. Because of public health orders, we had to cancel sessions and indefinitely postpone or refund clients. Not to mention that photography is not an essential services. That one wasn’t fun to come to terms with in the middle of a pandemic. We know photography is a luxury in most cases, but this took things to a new level. I consider photography a necessary luxury. My own family photoshoots are among my most prized possessions. They are what I would take with me if I was running out of a burning house. You can’t replace those memories and you need photoshoots to capture your family at different points in life. But…right…it’s not an essential service.

I can tell you I had never considered a situation where I couldn’t take on clients! It’s a double whammy when first off, we are not getting any inquiries (because clients are social distancing). Second we can’t actually take clients on because to public health orders. Many of us were moving right into wedding season when the coronavirus hit.

Saying it’s been tough is an understatement. But the reality is, if we’re going to continue, it’s time to figure out how we can re-build where we left off.

Here are some strategies that will help you as you begin to start the process of getting your photography business going. These tips apply if you started taking on clients as things got better in your area, or even if you took on clients, then had to shut down again.

New business policies for your photography business during the coronvirus pandemic

The continued risk of coronavirus exposure and transmission means that we (as business owners) adopt new policies. Photography is no exception. You are the business owner and it is your responsibility to make sure you are safe and your clients are safe! The last thing you want is for your photography session to be the place where this virus extends to more people. That would be really bad.

Ensure you closely review your local public health guidelines for businesses and what is required to begin operating. And also because things are still changing all the time! What will your pandemic safety guidelines look like? Depending on where you live and your specific business operation, this may mean submitting plans or consulting with professionals. Here are some items you will need to consider:

  1. How will you use protective equipment in your business? You may need to wear a mask and gloves to the session. Think about how you will sanitize your equipment and the location. Consider hand sanitizer for yourself and clients. Especially if you photograph kids right? Maybe look into eco-friendly sanitizers that still do the job.
  2. You will likely need to maintain physical distancing from clients and limit the number and mix of clients.
  3. Are you going to shoot indoors? For example, I only offered outdoor sessions until I got the ok to shoot indoors with all sorts of cautions in place. If you choose to shoot indoors, what kind of practices will you need to put in place? Does your region require a certain limit on people inside one location, if you are allowed to have clients indoors at all?
  4. Do you have a way for clients to pay you virtually, such as a credit card payment service? I know many photographers who have tried to keep costs down by only using services such as venmo (US) and email money transfer (Canada). If you want to take things a little further to help make things convenient for clients, I recommend signing up with Square.This way you can get paid with credit card.
  5. You can also think about limiting the number of sessions you are taking. Consider keeping a certain number of days between sessions to sanitize your equipment and reset your space.
  6. You will need to determine which clients you cannot photograph at this time. This usually includes those who have have been diagnosed with covid-19. It also includes those who had contact with someone who has had covid-19 in the past certain number of days. As well, anyone who is displaying symptoms or travelled outside of your area should be postponed. This is to keep everyone safe!

Connecting with clients after pandemic lockdowns

Go through the sessions you had booked prior to when covid-19 shut the world down. You likely had to cancel clients that you had already scheduled. Maybe you postponed inquiries or emails from people who wanted to book you for a photoshoot. Some of you were even finalizing a date and sending out a contract. Connect with those individuals first, let them know when you will be booking again, and run them through your new policies. This is why it’s important to review the new business policies above and make decisions before you re-start your business. Then invite those people to book a session and move through your booking process.

Hopefully during this time, you have maintained your social media accounts. Just because you’re not photographing anything new doesn’t mean you can’t showcase sessions from the archives. Your audience also just wants to know about you as a human being! Don’t shy away from posting about yourself.

Find a creative promotion

As you’re ready and able to book others, start posting your availability or upcoming session spots on social media. If you do mini sessions, this may be a good place to jump start the engagement. Be creative and think about what your audience would appreciate. You can also start posting that you are implementing new guidelines and procedures as per public health policies to keep yourself and your clients safe.

I wanted to find a creative way to re-launch, and so one of the first sessions I started promoting were mini shoots outside of people’s homes within a designated area. I let them know of my new policies and I maintained my distance through the shoot. It was a challenge at first to get used to this. My style includes get closer to my subjects so I can point to where I want their bodies to move in order to get the image. But overall it was a great idea. Families that were waiting for their sessions had a chance to book a mini shoot. Since I did them outside people’s homes, I did not have to worry about sanitizing my work area. I always book my mini shoots in the same location, but I wanted to avoid any overlap in client start times.

Find a creative way to get your business going again. Photography is still a viable business during the coronavirus pandemic. You just need to be a little more clever in your approach. And mindset! Don’t let this drag you down.

Pandemic proof your time

Even if your business comes to a halt, your work in the background does not have to. Consider creating a plan for times when you are unable to shoot. Maybe this is the right time to work on your marketing strategies. It may be a good idea to give your photography website a revamp.

These tips work even during a photographer’s off-season. Having a plan in place when things slow down can support your efforts as you get back to work.

Keeping your services at the top of people’s mind is a job that doesn’t end. Are you making the most of the times when you are not doing work directly related to a client session? If you have these strategies in place, a pandemic is not as scary. Yes, the revenue stream connected to photographing clients is hit. But it doesn’t have to de-rail your entire business.

And that’s takes us to thinking about opening up opportunities and revenue streams as a photographer. If you are working on one sole revenue stream, you will feel the impacts of a lock down that much more.

An opportunity to create sustainability

Now that you are planning to re-start or start your business, why not consider creating a business that is sustainable? The coronavirus pandemic is really an exercise in opportunity. You got to see the impacts on your business. And now you can make changes so you life doesn’t look the same, should something similar happen. Did you bring in the type of income you wanted during the pandemic? If now, right now is the perfect time to pivot into something else, such as taking a leap and offering print sales virtually.

You may even consider all the other ways you can increase your revenue streams. What about taking and selling stock photos, creating courses for clients and photographers (like I do here)? Why not sell your services on upwork? Maybe you sell your work for businesses who want art on their corporate mugs. There are literally so many ways to make money as a photographer. You have to find the ways that fit for you.

If you are ready to increase your revenue with print sales, take my 3 day email course on In Person Sales. The email course will teach you what IPS is and why it works, what specific changes you need to make in your business and mindset to implement this model. These are the same steps I’ve taken to transform my photography business.

Maybe now is the right time to transform yours.

Ready? Register below and check your inbox!