The photography business has been among the first to feel the full impact of the global COVID-19 crisis.
And with bookings cancelled, events postponed and travel restricted, it is vital that photographers get their businesses online quickly.
It's going to be a tough time for your photography business, no doubt.
But there are a lot of things you can do.
And you need to do them NOW.
You have probably had shoots cancelled and weddings postponed. Events, festivals and other gatherings you planned to attend now won't be taking place.
If you have a shop, then passing trade will have dried up. That's if you haven't already been ordered to close.
For a self-employed freelancer or a small business owner, these things are the stuff of nightmares because they stop you from working.
But do not despair.
You need to get your photography business online because the internet is still very much open.
In this blog, we've put together 12 things photographers can do TODAY to take their activities online and – with a bit of luck – come out of this crisis strong.
Click on any of the links below to jump ahead:
- Do Product Shoots
- Offer Online Retouching and Editing
- Provide Online Photography Courses
- Upsell to Your Current Customers
- Pitch to Unaffected Industries
- Sell Stock Images
- Turn Your Catalogue into Merchandize
- Rent or Sell Unused Equipment
- Assert Your Creators' Rights
- Check Your Cancellation Policies
- Upskill Yourself
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1. Do Product Shoots
eCommerce is likely to grow rapidly as opportunities to shop on the high street disappear.
Indeed, that is exactly what has been seen in the worst-hit countries to date, China and Italy.
Shoppers love to see the product before they buy it. As a photography business, you already know this!
So a jump in eCommerce activity is likely to lead to greater demand for product imagery. So get in touch with local businesses, suppliers, and customers to see if they need product shoots.
Remember, there's far more you can do that just offer static photographs. You could provide:
- 360-degree photography
- Video. Unboxing videos are MASSIVE – as far back as 2016, YouTube featured more than 50 million results for the term "unboxing"
- Aerial drone footage
2. Offer Online Retouching and Editing
Now is the time to show off your Photoshop skills!
If you're an editing wizard, then you could offer:
- Restoration of old and damaged photographs
- Digitization of film and negatives
- Retouching of your own or others' images, for example for fashion photography
- Color grading
There are so many things that can be done with digital photo editing tools. You just need to find your niche and promote your services.
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3. Provide Online Photography Courses
Millions of people worldwide are now stuck at home, unable to work or looking for ways to entertain themselves and their families.
Similarly, millions of people have photographic equipment that they have never learned to use to its full potential.
Even the camera on a humble iPhone has capabilities far beyond those that most people regularly use.
So why not show them what you know?
Film or stream yourself demonstrating hidden features or showing tricks of the trade – such as lighting a set.
You can either charge for access or you can use the lessons for lead generation – getting people to subscribe to your email newsletters in exchange for the videos.
You can even automate the delivery of your tutorials via email to allow people to learn at their own rate.
4. Upsell to Your Current Customers
Maybe you can't go out on any new shoots, but you might be able to get more value out of the ones you have already done.
For example, you could offer discounted wedding albums to newlyweds who didn't want at the time. If you've still got all the files or the film, then you can compile a whole new set of memories of their big
Alternatively, you could offer enhanced, enlarged or retouched portraits from your back catalog to previous customers 👍.
5. Pitch to Unaffected Industries
Not everyone is having a hard time during the current crisis. 🤔
A lot of businesses are unaffected or have even had a boost. For example, video conferencing tools, supermarkets, online-only retailers, etc – all of these are thriving.
If you have contacts at companies that stand to thrive during the lockdown, then reach out today and see if you can fulfill their photographic needs.
If you don't have any yet, go straight to tip number 12!
6. Sell Stock Images
Chances are, as a photographer, you have a huge back catalog of images sitting around doing nothing.
Stock photography is big business!
Then you need to think about getting your work out there!
7. Turn Your Catalogue into Merchandize
Use your imagination to turn your photos into the widest possible range of products, because there are buyers out there for EVERYTHING! 😁
For example, Etsy features vast numbers of art prints from photographers.
Or you could:
- Put your images onto t-shirts and mugs
- Produce greetings cards based on your pictures
- Compile a calendar from your favorite shots
Many dropshipping businesses require little or no investment on your part to get started. You can just produce mock-ups of the products in their platforms and then they will manufacture and fulfill orders on demand.
8. Rent or Sell Unused Equipment
Got a lot of old gear you're not using?
Then it might be the time to try and turn it into cash.
Photography magazines and forums carry ads for used equipment, and there is a thriving aftermarket on eBay and other auction sites.
On the other hand, you could offer your gear out for rental. Many businesses may need specific pieces of equipment (eg lighting, backdrops, etc) for specific projects that don't justify buying it outright.
Once again, finding these opportunities requires you to get networking online.
9. Assert Your Creators' Rights
Has your photography been featured online or in print without your knowledge or approval?
As the creator and (usually) the copyright holder, you have rights to compensation for any use of your work.
The laws around copyright are widely misunderstood or ignored – especially online.
But there are tools you can use that will track down your images online and help you to assert your rights. Pixsy is just one of many, and they offer free accounts.
10. Check Your Cancellation Policies
This is a tough one for many in the photography business community, but if your customers signed binding contracts for work that they now want to cancel, then you may have rights you can assert.
Of course, it is highly likely to cost you business and goodwill if you insist on being paid for a booking you can't fulfill just because the paperwork says you are entitled to it.
But at the same time, your cancellation policies may allow you to provide refunds in a voucher form or to offer rebookings rather than handing back cash.
This is a tricky one though. Other families and businesses are likely to be struggling to cut their spending to survive – just like you – and quibbling over cancellations now could backfire on you badly.
So you need to be sensitive. Big businesses can absorb this kind of cost much more easily than small firms and private individuals. Maybe only try to enforce your rights with your larger clients?
11. Upskill Yourself
For a photography business, your skills are one of the things that set you apart from an amateur.
So if you find yourself with time on your hands now, invest it in your future.
- Learn videography – more and more customers expect photographers to have video skills as well
- Get a drone license – remember, in many countries such as the UK, it's illegal to operate a drone without official authorization
- Teach yourself Photoshop – Adobe provides a huge range of online training courses from beginner to advanced
Last but by no means least, TALK TO PEOPLE and build your contact list.
Get your business on social media to spread the word 👍.
Start emailing your customers to tell them what you are doing 👍.
Provide incentives for visitors to your website to sign up to hear from you by email 👍.
Now is the time to make friends, because people will remember the businesses that helped them and provided value when this is all over.
Networking may or may not yield you more business in the short term, but it is something that will benefit your business in the longer run.