As many photographers approach the 30 day milestone of COVID Captivity, it’s time to start thinking about the when and the how of getting back to business. Unfortunately there are no correct answers to these questions since what may be right for one photographer may not be right for another. One thing seems to be certain: the business of making images of people will never be the same again. The decision for any photographer to resume their business will require new protocols of both the photographer and the client. I am sure there will be some who will want to resume their business as usual, but that would seem to be very risky approach. The critical thing to keep in mind will be the unknown health risks that will still exist in any photography venue. Everybody’s risk tolerance will be different and this will require both the photographer and the client to have a mutual respect for these tolerances.
Thoughts on Surviving in the New World Order
So what will the post COVID-19 photogrpher need to do to survive? The simple answer would be to stay away from taking pictures of people. How about becoming a landscape or product photographer? Probably not an option for most since the revenue streams in those genres of photography aren’t enough to make a living on. So until some type of vaccination is on the market to deal with this dreaded virus, photography will be very different. Here are two approaches on what I think a people photographer will need to do to survive during this very uncertain period.
- Photographers will need to be more client focused than ever. Hygiene and distance awareness will be critical. The ability to work closely with their subjects will be gone. Close-ups will be more challenging but not impossible. For those photographers who are not already germ focused they will need to become that way. Packing hand sanitizer and wipes in the bag will be a must.
- Enhanced due dilligence on the client’s health and transparency by the photographer will also be critical. Prior to any photo shoot a photographer will need to ask the relevant questions about the health of the client will be necessary. While traditionally this type of questioning has been off limits for a photographer, it will become the “new normal” in the business. Likewise, the photographer will also need to be transparent and honest with their clients aout their own health. Coming to a photo shoot with any type of illness will not be tolerated. Face gear and other types of head gear will be required fashion by any photographer who expects to instill any confidence with their clients.
There is no doubt that the next 12 months, or perhaps longer, will be challenging for all photographers. There will be no such thing as “return to normal”. Revenues will be decreased. Photo gigs will be diminished. Surviving in the photography world in the months ahead will require passion, diligence, perverence, and most of all common sense. There is no profession in the world that taking unnecessary health risks for the professional or the client is worth it. Be smart. Play it safe. Taking baby steps in ever task of the business will be the way to survive. Be safe and best of lucky with happy shooting!
If you had asked a photographer a couple of months ago about “Corona” most would have had little insight or understanding about the impacts that would be coming to their business. As the world continues to feel the health and economic impacts of a generational pandemic, photographers are also assessing the impact of this crisis on their industry. While it is apparent that no trade or industry will escape the wrath of COVID-19, photographers will surely feel the effects longer than most. Since most photography work is so dependent upon social interaction, a photographer’s ability to capture socially interactive moments has been virtually eliminated. Recently I have seen some photographers make a go of it by capturing some of the unique images that are a by product of the pandemic, but nothing that really can produce a revenue stream to sustain a photographer. The scary thing for photographers is not when the pandemic is over, rather what photography life will be like after it is over. The reality is that for those photographers who make a living off of event photography, life will never be the same again. I am confident that event photography will resume soon enough, but the photography will be different. Think for a moment, with the risk of virus infection not going away for the foreseeable future, photographers will likely have to change their workflow and perhaps even their creative approach.
So, what will photography look like for those photographers that are dependent upon a revenue stream from their work? I thought I’d take a shot at what this may look like. In the post-COVID-19 world social distancing is likely going to be a part of our behavior requirements. Photo events like weddings, and parties, and other family gatherings will likely be smaller. Hugging, kissing and touching will be frowned upon. How people interact at these events will also be different. Photographers will need to be mindful of those shots that have everyone compressed into one frame. Photographers themselves will have to be mindful of their own health and become more conscious about their physical interactions with their clients. The use of longer lenses may be required as photographers attempt to play it safe by staying more distant from their subjects. I’m just hoping that a 24mm lens does not become obsolete.
At the timing of this writing there is still much uncertainty about what the “new normal” will look like in the photography industry. I’d like to believe that things could be normal, but that does not seem to be a realistic expectation. So, for now I’d like to encourage all photographers to remain optimistic with the hope that the photography business can return to the way it was. Keep in mind that the solution to this challenge resides in science, and 21st century science has proven to be fast and friendly. My advice to photographers is to keep focus on their creative priorities, and at some point, in the not to distant future, all will be good in the photography world.
Photographers are often asked, “what time of year is your favorite time to shoot images?”. For me strangely enough the answer is Winter. For me the cold weather has resonated with me throughout my life. I was born in the middle of an epic snowstorm in Connecticut. I spent all of my childhood experience during some of the best blizzards of the 20th Century. In addition, I graduated from what many call the snowiest university in America. You see, snow and cold and me go way back. I recently set out on a cold photo adventure on the Delaware River and had an amazing experience. Capturing images at this time of year is like no other. Not only can you capture unique perspectives, you can capture colors that you will never see at any other time of year. I find it quite amazing that when you aim a camera at a cold river, the river almost screams back at you with a rich blue hue. It’s like the water is trying to tell you something.
I will warn you though. Capturing images in this kind of weather is not for everyone. This particular winter has been especially brutal for many. On this particular day the temperature was 15F with a wind chill around 0. Nothing a few layers of clothing and a good pair of ski gloves can’t solve.
One of my favorite mediums for winter photography is black and white. Winter is by far the best time to use black and white format to help you enhance the stark coldness of the season.
All of the photos you see in this post were done using one of my favorite landscape techniques. High Dynamic Range or HDR. The process involves combining a series of frames together in the same picture and using all of the exposure ranges within each image. It creates quite an amazing look as long as you don’t over do it. As for Winter HDR, just remember you have to set up your camera on a stationary spot and ensure you don’t shake the camera! Easier said than done when Old Man Winter is nipping at you.
That is all from Ice Station Zebra. Stay warm
One of my favorite photo adventures ever was exploring Australia. If you can wrap your head around traveling 24 hours in a plane to get your destination this is a place well worth exploring. My adventure took me to Sydney, which for first time visitors like myself is a great starting point. When I first arrived I was struck by how much Sydney resembled other places I had visited in the United States. Make no mistakes about it, the land of Down Under is not America. From the ferries, to the beaches, to the open air markets, Australia is an amazing place for any photographer just to wander around with no particular destination. If you are truly an adventurer I would recommend charter a helicopter for the full 360 Degree experience of the city. I found the people of Australia warm and friendly, and very willing to engage people like myself with a big camera. (Perhaps they just confused me with a famous freelance fashion photographer :)) I was there during the Australian winter, so it was generally mild and comfortable. Think of San Francisco in the Fall.
One of the best photography locations is the world famous Taronga Zoo. I highly recommend getting the private zoo keeper tour that allows you full access to the Australian wild life exhibits. If you didn’t already know, Australia is filled with with the most unusual species of animals in the world, and the Taronga Zoo has them all. Being a huge koala fan this place was especially cool. My private zoo keeper allowed me full access to the koalas. So close that I could touch. (Unfortunately Australia law prohibits koala petting.). My photo shoot of the koalas was a true beauty shoot. The koala allowed me to put my camera right in front of them. (Which is more than I can say for some of my children photography sessions.)
The other amazing part of my Australian photo adventure was my arial tour of the beaches. Bondi Beach by air is beyond description. Zooming by the surf and sand at 150mp.
Those of you who know anything about photography know that to make great things happen you cannot do it alone. Since I have always prided myself on keeping my operation small I have limited the amount of helpers I have. So I have to let to in on a well kept secret. I have 8 of the best hands in the business. Well they are not actually hands, but close. Meet Addison Rae, and Jeyne Austin, the creative juices for Vince Scanlan Photography. While they cannot push a camera shutter or set up a studio light they offer other value to my business. They are the influence for all the smiles you will see in my photography. They are high energy fun loving Boxer puppies who stop at nothing to keep me entertained. Truth be told, they are the creative geniuses behind most of my photo composition. Whenever I need an opinion about photo perspective, Addison and Jeyne are right there provide feedback.
I feel fortunate to have such a staff working for me. They require very little compensation, just a couple of bowls of food a day and some treats occasionally. Unfortunately they are not always allowed to shoot on location with me. As you can tell from some of my photography, travel to far off places is often required. In those cases where they cannot come along I will just need to bring back slide shows of my trip and solicit feedback from both of them.
If you inclined to reach out to me for a photo engagement, be sure to specify if you want me or the whole team. The price will be the same, but the experience will be so much more fulfilling.
What is the greatest challenge any photographer faces in maintaining creative juices? Keeping it fresh. Ensuring the composition of your images is interesting, unique, and most importantly, stimulating to the eye. This is so much easier said than done. Every photographer goes through a stage of “creative block” at some point. It is just a matter of time before it hits you. So how does a photographer get out of the photographic funk? Everyone has a different remedy. Here is a solution on how I recently found my way out.
As a photographer who enjoys capturing various aspects of nature and the outdoors traveling to a new location is always a sure fire way of jump starting my composition. I recently had the opportunity to travel to the island of Puerto Rico on an adventure with my wife and son. I know what you are thinking. Puerto Rico? I was thinking the same thing prior to booking the trip. I have travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean and have always used Puerto Rico as a connecting point and not a destination. However I wanted to be opened minded and agreed to give the “Isle of Enchantment” a chance. I chose the location of Dorado Beach on the north coast of the island, just west of San Juan. After my arrival at Dorado, I could quickly feel my creative block melt away. The natural beauty and lighting were things that I could never dream of creating in a studio. The flowers, the ocean, the trees, all had a crisp colorful newness to them. My perspective seemed alive again. I am not suggesting that the only way to cure the creative blues is by hopping on a plane and flying to the Caribbean. The point is this. Being trapped inside the box causes creative blocks. To get out of the box you need to challenge yourself to find your secret passage out of the box. For me it was a willingness to travel to a place I had always considered unappealing. Sure there are many other means of escaping “the box”. Others may find that a simple change in the focal length of your lens will do the trick. For others, finding new subject matter may do the trick.
The most important thing for the photographer to realize is when you have entered into the dead zone and knowing that your survival as a photographer depends upon finding a way out. For a photographer the old saying, “Complacency is devastating” is the most important thing to keep in mind when looking to restore your creative edge.
As I look back at 2013 from a photographic perspective I have to say that it was a very good year. On all fronts I had amazing experiences creating images of families, nature, sports and many things in between. As an aspiring professional photographer I am so happy with the many areas that I have enhanced my photographic art skills. As with most photographers, I often find myself with creative blocks. When I find myself in a creative block I usually find a cure through a different venue. It does not have to be far just different. During 2013 I found myself in Italy and found an instant cure for my creative block. My creative juices were definitely ignited during my travels to Rome and Venice. As I said, it does not need to be far, but a trip to Europe is always a sure fire way of fixing the photo blues.
During 2013 I also found myself enhancing my skills in the category of studio lighting.. The addition of some ProPhoto strobes definitely advanced my photography in ways I could not have imagined. One of my greatest advancements for the year was my animal subjects. The presence of 2 active Boxer puppies is a sure fire way of getting some light hearted subjects into your images. As you look through my galleries you will see many Boxers in my collection. Sorry I could not help myself!
One of my favorite photo memories of 2013 was doing a family photo towards the end of the year. I was warned going into the shoot that the children that I were going to be my subjects were guaranteed not to smile for the camera. Well guess what? By the end of the session I had both children giggling and laughing. It turns out that we all had a good time, not to mention the photos were some of my best work of the year. Smiles and children laughing always turn out to be amazing images to look at in both the present and the future.
So what is in store for 2014? Hopefully if I can have half the adventures and advancements that I had in 2013 I know the New Year will be another memorable one.
As many of of us contemplate making New Year resolutions, I have decided to list my photography New Year resolutions. As a photography it is critical to keep moving forward and enhance yourself as a photography. Here is my list. With a little bit of luck I will achieve all of these. Here goes:
- Submit 12 entries to photo contests with the objective of at least placing.
- Have 1 photo published in a national publication.
- Commit to requirements of becoming a Certified Professional Photographer.
- Take a picture a day for 365 days.
- Participate in fashion photography shoot.
- Learn 5 new features on my Nikon D4 camera
- Learn 10 new skills in post-production software.
- Read 5 photography books with a focus on composition.
- Take photos in 1 new state and 1 new country.
- Increase web traffic on my person website by 30%.