Pro Tips For Building Your Photography Business During Unexpected Downtime

Posted by: on Mar 18, 2020
A couple stands on the peak of a mountain
📸: Pye Jirsa

We’re all finding ourselves in an uncertain time, and as of right now, we don’t know the extent of the impact on our lives and our businesses. For photographers, the COVID-19 virus has disrupted not only their daily lives, but their livelihood. Over the past few weeks I have heard from many of my friends in the photography and cinematography industries the impact that COVID-19 has had on their businesses.

While the current situation has brought a halt to a lot of planned business, it doesn’t have to stop your creative and entrepreneurial spirit from thriving. I reached out to some of my friends around the world to see how they are handling this downtime and what advice they wanted to share with fellow business owners that are equally impacted.

I want to thank all of our contributors for sharing their tips and time with us so that we can share them as ideas for you.

How are you using this unexpected downtime?

Vanessa Joy: I’m doubling down on my marketing efforts that usually get put by the wayside. Here’s a whole list of marketing strategies that you can start doing right now: 5 Marketing Strategies for Wedding Professionals

Yaneck Wasio: With all the unexpected downtime we are focusing on creating more content for our clients and YouTube channel. We already have a long list of videos we will be putting together in the next couple of weeks.

Lindsay Adler: I’m starting my downtime by working on 3 important things:

  • Building mood boards and inspiration for future shoots (when things become more stable again)
  • Reviewing my 2020 business strategy and dream client list, gathering contacts, etc.
  • Writing a brand-new book on fine art nude photography

Larry Chen: I think the best thing to do at this point is to catch up on work that we have been working on since the beginning of the year. We have a huge backlog videos and stills that need to be edited.

Pye Jirsa: Photographers aren’t going to be the only ones hurting. Every small business owner will be in a similar position, some more so than others. If you are in the events space, understand that planners, florists, venues, and everyone in your space is going to be in pain. Find opportunities! This is a great chance to be of help, offer test/styled shoots for no cost. Help them to create content, design their website, and other things that can help them get back on their feet. Invest in your networks knowing that they will invest back in you, especially when things improve.

📸: Vanessa Joy

How do you recommend photographers invest back into their business?

Vanessa Joy: Invest time. Update your website, boost your social media presence or try a new DIY project that you’ve been meaning to do.

Yaneck Wasio: There is so much online training that I will be spending time elevating my skills. Just remember, watching without practicing is truly a waste of time. So whatever you watch online have a way to practice. Even if you have to photograph your family members or bananas.

Lindsay Adler: I have 3 courses I’ve bought over the last few years that I just never got around to watching… now is the time! Invest in your knowledge, especially if you’ve already spent the money. You don’t need to even buy anything new!

Larry Chen: This is the perfect time for photographers all around the world to take a step back and dig deep through their archive to reuse photos. Use the for social, revamp the website. I think the greatest thing about digital is that you can find any of your old work within minutes.

Pye Jirsa: You are going to have a lot of free time on your hands. This is the best time to grab books, Audible books, SLR Lounge Workshops, and other training resources. This is literally the best thing you can do in your free time, and it’s exactly what I am doing. I’m using this time to invest in my own knowledge and back into our businesses. We are using our time to rethink our website, portfolio, product offerings, SEO, etc. This is the best time to level-up your knowledge and skill set so you are hitting the ground running when the market turns around.

📸: Larry Chen

Are you conducting shoots in a more creative way than usual in order to protect the health of you and your clients?

Vanessa Joy: I’m doing more YouTube videos than ever before and boosting some income that way. Since I photograph weddings primarily (and it’s right now been recommended that gatherings be limited to just 10 people or less) there’s just no creative way to do that. Though, if I wanted to, I think maybe encouraging in-studio bridal sessions would be a pretty fun, non-crowd, wedding shoot!

Yaneck Wasio: I have been wanting to focus on product photography for the last couple of years. I think this is the perfect time to take my product photography to the next level! At least until we can have people in our studio!

Lindsay Adler: I cancelled all of my shoots, but am going to film a couple tutorials to help general Q&A for photographers (for free) to watch during these times!

Larry Chen: There are still a few things we can do at this time to produce content on our own. We can actually take advantage of the empty streets and shoot cars for editorial purposes. It’s a win win because there is little to no human contact and we can show the city of Los Angeles in a different way.

Pye Jirsa: Consider new revenue streams! Events are going to take a big hit in 2020. But, those doing portraiture may be able to fair a little better. While the public is afraid of large gatherings, they aren’t so worried about engagement shoots, headshots, and individual portrait sessions. This is the time to consider a pivot and addition of new products within your business.

In addition to the ideas above, a number of industry resources have offered up ideas that can inspire you on how to make the best of the situation we’re currently in together. The key takeaway from all of our friends, invest in yourself and your business.

If you need further ideas that can bring positive benefits to you and your business when things return to normal, check out our latest guides: Insight + Inspiration Series: Composite Photography and How I Got the Shot: Women’s Edition v2.

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