Tips for Photographers During the Coronavirus Emergency

By Sarah Petty

The Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis marks an unprecedented time for photographers. Shutdowns, grocery scrambles and government orders to stay at home have a tremendous impact on our livelihood.

What should you be doing as a photographer to remain productive during the Coronavirus?

First of all, get your head out of all the doom and gloom & put on your positivity pants. It’s one thing to be informed of what’s going on and another thing entirely to saturate yourself in the negative energy of others.  

Second, you should use this opportunity to go out there and build relationships by supporting other small businesses in your area. Strong relationships are built when times are tough. The people you help support now will remember what you did years from now. How can you help others right now? 

Third, now is the time to make your business stronger by taking the time to learn more and improving your workflow and processes. You want your business to be even better than it was before when you emerge from this crisis, so dig into how you can more effectively sell in person, learn how to frame, get better at batching your projects so you are more efficient, how can you speed up your editing, can you learn to better use your in person selling software?

Here are some tips and resources below to help you manage your photography business and your personal life during the Coronavirus emergency.

Photography Business Tips During the Coronavirus

So what can you do right now in your photography business to improve your situation during the Coronavirus outbreak? Instead of immersing yourself in anxiety or escaping it all-together by binging on Netflix, try some of these tips:

Get creative about how you can make money. Events and weddings are being postponed and some clients are canceling portrait bookings. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make money. Use this time to put together an online photography class, offer to retouch your clients’ vacation images and create a piece of wall art or book for them to purchase, find a builder and photograph the inside of a spec build he’s working on (provided your state isn’t under shelter in place limitations), work on a stock portfolio for Stocksy, teach an online painting, drawing or photoshop class to your clients with kids stuck at home, plan a portrait event for when it’s safe to get out again (my tween event is happening as soon as we come out on the other side of this), create any back-logged wedding albums or first-year client books you may have fallen behind on.

Postpone any large purchases. Now is probably not the best time to invest in an expensive piece of equipment. Use that money instead as a safety cushion to weather the Coronavirus situation. If that equipment is an absolute must, then consider renting that equipment rather than buying it. 

Get 2 Months of Adobe Free. Adobe probably doesn’t want me sharing this, but here’s a trick to get 2 months free that can definitely help you out during the Coronavirus. If you go onto ADOBE.COM and click Cancel my plan. you’ll get to an offer section and they should offer 2 months free. 

Reduce your Proselect payments. I use Proselect sales software and they just sent me an email this weekend that they are temporarily allowing photographers to halve their lease costs for 2 months or defer your payments if you are on a payment plan. 

Get free eBooks using your library card. If you have a local library card then you can get thousands of ebooks and audiobooks for free. Just go to overdrive.com and signup. 

Catch up on some essential reading.  Now is the perfect time to catch up on some essential reading for your photography business. First of all, if you haven’t read my New York Times best-seller Worth Every Penny yet, then I suggest starting there. You can get my book for free (just pay shipping) here. Here are a few other of my favorite business books that I highly recommend as well. 

Clean / organize / sell your  gear. Look at what you really use and consider selling things that you don’t need. You might realize you’re sitting on pounds of extra gear that you hardly ever use. 

Brush up on your photography / editing skills / design skills for free – Creativelive is a wonderful site for photographers to go to for free daily classes.

Catch my Facebook Live videos. I get a ton of questions from photographers about their concerns during these unpredictable times, so I try and answer them on Facebook Live. You can catch the recordings here. Make sure you like my page as well so you can stay up to date when I have the next one. 

photography business during the coronavirus crisis
Now’s the time to strengthen your photography business by improving your workflow, your marketing & sales and your professional knowledge.

Tips for Getting Work Done at Home If You Have Kids Out of School

School is canceled. The kids are home. And you have to get work done! How do you stay productive while working from home? Here are some tips that can help you.

Designate a spot as your work area. Pick a quiet area of your house as your designated “office”. It should preferably be a room with a door you can close, but if that’s not possible, then a corner area where you can put up some partitions to discourage family members from interrupting you. Make sure your family knows that your work area is for work and to not interrupt you while you are in there. 

Continue your work routine. In order to be productive, you have to switch your mind from personal time to work mode. How do you do that when you’re stuck at home? The best way to stay productive is by continuing your normal work routine while at home, including waking up at your normal time, getting dressed in appropriate clothing (i.e. no PJ’s), taking your lunch at the same time and maintaining your same work hours. 

Schedule phone calls and meetings while your kids are napping or having lunch. Take advantage of the times during your day when your kids are busy or asleep. Use those times to make your phone calls or video meetings so you don’t have to worry about interruptions or distractions. 

Get your kids on a schedule. We’re all creatures of habit and your kids are no different. Sticking to a set schedule even if they don’t have school will make it easier to plan your workday.

Wake up earlier. You’d be surprised how much you can get done when you wake up an hour or two before your kids do.  

Set up a boredom box. This can be a lifesaver when you need to get work done and have run out of ideas to keep your younger kids busy. A boredom box is a crate of craft materials and a list of activities they can do using the materials in the crate. You might have them create their favorite animal using pipe cleaners and cotton balls for example. 

Batch your work activities and go for short bursts. Working at home with kids can be challenging, especially if they’re young. One technique you can use to handle both work and personal life is to learn how to batch your work activities together and concentrate on being super productive in short bursts. Then take a short break between work sessions by tending to your personal life. If you’re easily distracted, these short “sprints” can be useful.

With some careful planning you can get work done from home and spend time with your little ones.

Tips for Self-Care During the Coronavirus 

It goes to say that if you want to do a good job helping other people, then the first person you need to help is yourself. Self-care is important to maintain your self-esteem, confidence and your relationship with yourself so you’re better equipped to transmit those positive feelings to others. Here are some tips for self-care.

Exercise at home. Most gyms across the nation are closed, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to skip your exercise. You can have a workout right there in your home with little to no equipment. Peloton is doing a free 90 day trial of their workout app. I use it and IT’S REALLY GOOD! You can use it to try yoga, HIIT, stretching, strength training, cycling and more. Best of all, you don’t need any Peloton equipment to use the app

Help a restaurant out with no delivery fee take out. Want to give yourself a break from the kitchen while helping support your local eateries? UberEats is offering zero delivery fees for independently-owned restaurants right now during the Coronavirus emergency. 

Take a break from the news. By temporarily disconnecting from news sources (yes, that includes social media), you can distance yourself from the anxiety, overwhelm and negativity that surrounds it.

Enjoy some “Me” time. Doing an activity you enjoy is important for your self-care,  whether that’s a hobby or simply soaking in a hot tub. Carve out some time in your day for “me” time. You deserve it. 

Practice journaling. Putting your thoughts on paper is probably one of the best ways to help you work through your thoughts, feelings, and challenges. You can also practice gratitude journaling to shift your mind away from fear and towards appreciation and love.

Having the ability to help others during this difficult time depends on your ability to help yourself first.

Educational Resources for Photographers with Kids

Need to keep your kids engaged with educational activities? There’s a ton out there for kids of every age and most of it’s free. Here are some suggestions.

Audible Stories – Since schools nationwide are closed, Audible is making its storybooks free. They have hundreds of titles available for elementary, tween and teenage kids. 

Scholastic Learn at Home – Day-by-day learning experiences for kids in Kindergarten to grade 9.

Free learning workbooks – This site contains a wealth of free printable learning workbooks for kids in Kindergarten to sixth grade.

Podcasts for Kids in Elementary School

Little Stories for Tiny PeopleOriginal audio stories filled with whimsy and wonder for young listeners and their families.

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids – This production, from Vermont Public Radio, tackles such topics as Why Do People Have Nightmares?, Do Animals Get Married?, and Why Do Lions Roar?

The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd – Learn about history following the on-going battle between Dr. Floyd and the evil mastermind Dr. Steve (along with his sock-shaped assistant, Fidgert). 

Podcasts for Kids in Middle School

StarTalk Radio – This one is for the science lovers. Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about all things space: stars, planets, humans in space, and so much more.

The Past & The Curious – Humans are a curious lot as this podcast attests to in its mission statement: “true stories of inspiration, humor, and the incredible achievements of all types of people, many of which are sadly under-shared.”

Podcasts for Teens in High School

Youth Radio – Published by teens, this podcast was created to showcase the power of young people as makers of media, technology, and community. 

Stuff You Should Know – The podcast that brings you the ins and outs of everyday things.

Radiolab – Radiolab is a show about curiosity where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.

There’s plenty of free and low-cost educational resources and activities for your kids to explore at home during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Virtual Museums and Collections to Explore at Home

Smithsonian Natural History Museum Virtual Tour – A great virtual museum tour if your kiddo likes dinosaurs & science.

British Museum in London – Explore ancient Egypt or the Americas 

NASA Langley Research Center virtual tour – If your kid likes space, then this should be a fun one for them. 

Virtual Yosemite – an immerse experience from one of the most picturesque national parks in the USA.

International Space Station Tour – Hosted by NASA, this site gives you a glimpse of the work/life area of the astronauts aboard the ISS.

Animal Live Cams & Virtual Tours

San Diego Zoo live cams – From baboons to penguins, the world-famous San Diego zoo has live cams for about a dozen of their animal exhibits.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo live cams – They have live cams for their lion, giant panda, elephant, and naked mole-rat exhibits.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Provides real-time underwater camera video from their most popular aquatic tanks

Finally, make sure you like my Facebook page so you get notified when I host another Facebook Live. I’ll be answering your questions about how to weather the Coronavirus situation.