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Apr 2020

How to Keep Calm and Photo On: Pandemic Edition

13 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown us all for a loop. But don’t wallow! Instead, keep calm and photo on. You’ll be ready when life returns to normal!

Keep Calm and Photo On

Many of us are ultra-focused right now on our photography businesses and dreams for the future, especially as much of life is on hold. The COVID-19 crisis has put many states and counties into shelter-in-place mode, meaning clients aren’t booking sessions.

While you might be tempted to give up on your business in the midst of uncertainty and frustration, there are many positive things you can do to keep moving forward. That way, when businesses are back on track and clients are hunting for a photographer, you’ll be perfectly positioned to deliver photos they’ll love!

Your voice matters – now more than ever!

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ShootProof Meme: Keep Calm & Photo On

#1: Pay it Forward by Mentoring a New Photographer

Do you remember those early days when you were new to photography and you struggled to nail your focus point, or develop a smooth posing workflow for a session? There are tons of newbies following behind you who could benefit from your experience! Why not use this time to mentor a colleague and help someone else feel more confident in shooting, posing, editing or blogging?

Use Your Expertise

You can still pay it forward while practicing social distancing by teaching via Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime. You’ll feel great about supporting another photographer, and you might even impress yourself with how much you’ve learned through running your own biz.

If you’re feeling extra motivated, develop a course on a topic you know inside and out, complete with how-to videos and workbooks. Or, you could even team up with a colleague and co-host a webinar! Market the class on your website and throughout your network.

A person holds a David Bowie record album in front of their face. A cat sprawls on its back in a chair before a window.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#2: Get Close to Your Favorite Vendors

Check out the websites of vendors you use for prints, photo albums, etc. and see if they have a blog where they could spotlight you showing off their products.

I’ve had great success reaching out to vendors I use and asking if they’d feature how my clients benefit from their products. In fact, I’m working on an email-based interview now for the vendor who prints my style magazine that clients have fallen in love with! I get to brag on their top-notch printed products and share how the magazine has elevated my client experience; when the interview goes live, my business gains exposure with a brand new audience – as well as SEO gold.

It’s a win-win for both of you: the vendor can show off another small business having success with their product or service, and your website and work will be visible to lots of potential new clients!

A hand-painted gold-leaf sign on a shop window reads "Work in Progress". Part of ShootProof's "Keep Calm & Photo On" article photographed by Gaelle Marcel.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#3: Update Your Google My Business Profile

How often are you updating your GMB profile with posts, photos and responses to questions these days? If it’s been a while, spend some time submitting posts with links to your latest blog posts and update with images from your favorite sessions.

There are so many photographers who don’t take advantage of GMB, and it’s definitely worth your time to maintain a profile here. In fact, there are over 3.5 billion Google searches per day, and your GMB profile could absolutely be included in keyword search results!

Hands type on a laptop that rests on a fern-printed comforter. Photo by Gaelle Marcel.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#4: Update Your PDFs and Style Guides

If you’ve been using the same pricing guides, FAQ documents, and style guides for a while, why not refresh them with updated copy and images while you’ve got the time? I usually set aside a day once every three to four months to update all of my PDFs with new images so that prospective clients always get examples of my latest work when they inquire about sessions.

Get Marketing Templates for Every Photo Genre!

If you don’t have studio PDFs set up to help your biz run on autopilot, now is a great time to put some together! I have guides set up for each type of session I offer. Potential clients can read about what to expect during a session, the best time to book, five key reasons to work with me, reviews from past clients, and see samples of my work.

Go a step further and review all of your auto-responders and email campaigns. Does the content still reflect your marketing objectives and brand goals? If you’ve made any recent design updates to your website, are those changes reflected in your email campaigns? These are tasks that often wind up on the bottom of our to-do lists, and now is a great time to check them off.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#5: Review Your Workflow

When you’re not running from session to session and trying to stay on top of editing, you have time to walk step-by-step through your workflow. Are there things you’re doing that clients really love? Do you see problem areas that need your attention?

A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is my photo backup system working well?
  • Am I routinely asking clients to leave reviews about their experience?
  • Can I speed up how quickly I deliver images to clients?
  • Is there a way to get a blog post up sooner after the session?
  • Do you offer sneak peeks? If so, are you getting the most mileage out of that initial client
    excitement over their photos? If you don’t do sneak peeks, should you start?
An open record player sits on a blue table by a yellow wall. A woman lies in a white bed looking at her smartphone.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#6: Take Your Camera in for a Checkup!

Again, if your calendar isn’t full of photo sessions, it might be time to give your gear a little R&R. You probably invested quite a bit of money into your camera, and it’s always a good idea to have it periodically checked by a pro to ensure everything is in perfect condition.

Look up your local camera service shop and find out how much a general cleaning is. If it fits into your budget, drop off your camera and then you can rest easier when sessions pick up again, knowing your gear is in great shape!

A green apple hangs in a tree, covered with dew. A tiny front rests on a massive elephant ear leaf.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#7: Submit Photos for Publication

Before I was a photographer, I spent 10 years in public relations. Submitting my work for print consideration is a key part of my workflow, and it can be part of your routine, too! It’s much easier than you might think to get published if you follow a few key steps.

First, identify a publication that is a good fit for the kinds of sessions you photograph. You can usually find photo submission guidelines and deadlines on the website, and you’ll want to follow those steps exactly as they’re presented. This might mean re-sizing your images, removing watermarks or submitting only a particular kind of image.

Get a Publication’s Attention

You might be asked to share a list of vendors that participated in the event and also some details about your work. Most outlets will give you some idea of how quickly they usually respond to your submission. Note that date in your calendar, and follow up at that time if you haven’t gotten a response.

Don’t be discouraged if you get turned down; that happens to everyone! Keep searching to find outlets that are a good fit for your work. Eventually, you’ll find a blogger or magazine editor who loves your work and wants to show off your images!

A person sits cross-legged on a white bed playing an electric guitar.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#8: Take on a Personal Creative Project

Your camera doesn’t have to gather dust just because you’re not serving clients! Use this time to pick up a project just for you. Maybe that’s working on your low-light photography skills or photographing your kids. You’ll keep your skills up while creating new content for your blog and social media channels.

#9: Inspire Your Clients – and Your Favorite Vendors!

This is a great opportunity to show off some of your best photos from venues where you love to shoot. Your blog is an extension of your client experience. Giving a bride-to-be or mom looking for a family photographer a peek at the beautiful places where you photograph will get them even more excited about working with you!

Make Your Blog Work FOR You

A blog feature is also a fabulous way to brag on other small businesses by highlighting their venues. Send the owner an email and outline your intention to spotlight them on your blog. Chances are good they’d be thrilled to do an email-based interview, which means less work for you to create content. You can share the post on your social media channels, tagging everyone in your blog post, and watch the appreciation pour in!

You’d be surprised how many small biz owners don’t have a personal relationship with a pro photographer who can take beautiful photos of their shop, venue or property. Now is a great time to create new relationships to benefit to your business in the future!

A vase of feathers sits in front of a window. A tray holding a mug and a diffuser sits in front of a window.

Gaelle Marcel | Keep Calm and Photo On

#10: Reach Out to Photographers Who are Hurting

This is a challenging season for everyone; that is especially true for photographers who were already working from home and now feel further isolated because we can’t get out and do what we love. The uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis means none of us know when life will get back to normal, with our calendars full of sessions, weddings and other client work.

Spend time checking on fellow photographers or other creatives via Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime. This is a sure-fire way to boost your spirits and help you feel connected to others while respecting social distancing precautions. Many of us are solo biz owners, but there is an entire creative community that is banding together to support each other online.

As photographers, we’re all navigating uncharted waters right now as we adapt to life during a pandemic. Try to remind yourself that you’re not alone, and that we’ll make it through this crisis together.

Brighter Days are Ahead – Promise!

Focus on one huge positive – it’s rare as small business owners to have the gift of so much time! Take advantage of the slowdown and get your business in tip-top shape for the brighter, busier days ahead.

How are you seeing photographers keep calm and photo on?

Share your insights below!

Written by KRISTAL BEAN | Photographs by GAELLE MARCEL

Kristal Bean is a maternity and newborn photographer based in The Woodlands, Texas. Her passion is helping women celebrate the beauty of motherhood with a luxury photography experience. Kristal is married with three young daughters and one goofy golden retriever. 

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