Australian Pro Photo – May 2020
English | 53 pages | pdf | 52.7 MB
SEEING THE LIGHT… AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL WITH Australian Pro Photo Magazine May 2020 issue
While preventing infections and potential deaths is obviously the key priority at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, what lies ahead – particularly in terms of the economy – could be even more of a challenge. Plenty of industries have been hardhit by the social distancing regulations which have resulted in hundreds of events – both big and small – cancelled and all sporting codes on hold, with the possibility of the complete 2020 season being lost. Consequently, professional photographers in many areas of practice have been impacted either directly or indirectly
Obviously, if you’re a sports photographer, you’re out of work right now, but it’s the same for wedding photographers and anybody who photographs social or business events for a living or works in travel and tourism. With the restrictions on the number of people who can be together in one place, film and TV productions have mostly stopped, as have many advertising and fashion shoots. In many states, the social distancing restrictions preclude visiting a studio for a portrait sitting or a portrait photographer visiting a family home for a sitting. Professional photographers are permitted to attend a place of work, so an on-location portrait sitting might qualify, but the reality is that these bookings have dried up anyway.
A few weddings are still happening, but with the limit of only five people allowed to attend (one being the celebrant), it’s likely the photography is being done by a witnesses on a smartphone.
The challenge is not only to survive the downtime – particularly financially – but be prepared for what might happen next. Some professional photographers will qualify for some sort of government support (for example, if you had an ABN as of 12 March 2020 and were registered for PAYG Withholding), so here’s a chance to do all of those admin-type jobs that have been put off because you’ve been too busy. Maybe it’s time to upgrade your backup and archiving system or give your website a refresh. How about putting together a photobook or two, or making some prints perhaps with an exhibition in mind down the track? Learn some new software or a new skill.
The online self-education options via webinars, Q&A events and workshops are now numerous, and many of them are free. The Australian Institute Of Photography (AIPP), for example, has put together an extensive program of online events through until June and, commendably, they’re open to non-members as well as members (visit www.aipp.com.au/events). Now could be a good time to try your hand at, say, macro photography or, at the other end of the size scale, astrophotography. In both cases, you could well be able to start practicing in your own backyard. Or simply get back to doing some personal photography just for the fun of it… you’re still allowed to go out for exercise so simply take your camera with you. Of course, there are the many personal experiences of this unprecedented time to document – if you haven’t already started – as well as the wider
impacts on your local area, such as empty streetscapes.
Just how our society will look when all this is over is anybody’s guess, but you have to think we’ll be feeling the economical knock-on effect for a very long time indeed. Professional photography has already undergone seismic changes due to the far-reaching impacts of digital imaging technologies, but we’re going to need even more inventiveness, flexibility and resilience in the future. There will undoubtedly be new opportunities arising primarily from different – and perhaps better – ways of doing business, but there’s also likely to be more pain for some who will be forced to do things differently. Big gatherings aren’t likely to be happening anytime soon and, in the commercial sphere, companies operating on much tighter budgets are likely to look at trimming advertising and marketing spends first (although the opposite is actually needed), so photography in these areas will continue to suffer. However, there will be a future after COVID-19, and anything you can do now in terms of better equipping yourself – both professionally and personally – to deal with whatever it brings will undoubtedly be beneficial.
Paul Burrows, Editor