COVID - 19 and it's effects on Photography industry

Author: Amanda Beck 

In the US, in March 2020, COVID19 shut down our lives.

We were told to stay home, stay out of public, and cease all non-essential business. Schools were cancelled. Many businesses were told to close up shop. These businesses were unsure of how they would continue to pay employees, bills or how they would make the ends meet. To say that the COVID19 Pandemic has affected the photography community as a whole, would be an understatement. It has affected us both financially, emotionally, and in many instances mentally.

We have been forced to cancel sessions, return deposits and refuse sessions which we so desperately want to schedule. In most cases deposits are non-refundable and have already been put toward the business in one way or another. But seeing as all of this is out our control as well as our client’s control, keeping the money seems unfair.

We are losing 100% of our income while the bills for running a business keep coming.

We have payments due for equipment, software, galleries and websites. We are having to turn down sessions when all you want is to do, is shoot! It is after all, what you love. Many of us are left feeling as though we have put in so much hard work for nothing. Looking back at years prior and wondering if it is over, if this is the beginning of the end. Not knowing what the future holds can cause anxiety when stress is already at an all-time high.

Many photographers in my community, as well as around the country, are losing customers because some cheaper, newer, unregistered photographer with less moral, is still offering to shoot even if they are non-essential. These regulations have been hard for all of us, but to try to capitalize on a non-essential industry during these times, while the rest of us sit back and try to “flatten the curve” is atrocious to say the least. As a registered photography business, I am a non-essential business, but the moral aspect of continuing to shoot is bigger than the government telling me not to.

This disease does not discriminate.

Clients come to us to capture memories of moments otherwise gone forever. We are forced to dash our clients dreams of having special, “once in a life-time moment” captured forever. Having to turn down a maternity session in fear for the mother and child’s safety or cancelling a hospital birth session because not even the fathers are allowed in; takes a toll. Some clients get upset when we cancel or reschedule sessions, thinking it won’t be them. “Not their family!” This disease does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if your young or old, healthy or not, pregnant or in the best shape of your life.

As a family portrait photographer, I shoot many types of sessions. However, my heart lies in the Senior Portrait world. I have enjoyed these sessions most of all since starting to do more of them in 2017. These shoots are usually filled with excitement, laughter, and talks about what their futures hold. With the cancellation of the school year happening due to the COVID 19 pandemic, many of these things are put into question.

Amanda last session March 15, 2020

Christian Hendry - Senior Class of 2020

Will they get to have prom? Will they be able to walk the stage? What does the future hold for college or even entering the workforce?

These kids have worked so hard for 12 years. They came into the world while we were trying to pull our country together after the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers. Now, they are struggling to understand why another tragedy has struck during what is supposed to be a time for celebration in their lives. These kids have lost enough! They do not need to be put in a position to have to fight for their lives along with it.

This industry provides the only true return to the past. A time machine, undeniably.

As photographers and small business owners, this pandemic continues to disrupt our lives. As well as effecting our personal lives. However, we are grateful and hopeful for the future. The unknown is a very scary, nonetheless, our faith will see us through. I believe that once this is over, families will see even more clearly how important the photography industry really is. This industry provides the only true return to the past. A time machine, undeniably. The only one I have ever known. These times are hard! But in these times, these struggles will merely exacerbate our plight to capture precious time, for our families, our clients and our industry as a whole. We, as a community have pulled together. We have cried together. We have exchanged our fears and deepest thoughts and struggles with each other. We have become close in knowing all too well what the others are going through. The financial struggles of losing our businesses to these “stay at home” orders. Trying our best to “slow the spread.” Seeing this as a moral obligation to our country, our communities, and to our customers. We will emerge from COVID 19 victorious.