How the pandemic has impacted the photography industry

Since we were all plunged into lockdown for the first time last year, the question on every photographer’s mind has been what effect COVID-19 will have on the photography industry.

Some have been adamant that it will mean an end to photography as we know it. Others are of the opinion that it is merely on pause; once social distancing ends, everything will return to normal. In the interim, provided photographers can find ways of supplementing their income to get to the other side, all will be well.

How many photographers have been affected by COVID-19?

An overwhelming ninety-nine per cent of photographers are reporting their business has been affected as a result of COVID-19. The one per cent claiming they have not been affected may well be stock photographers or otherwise work in ways that allow them to continue their regular photography jobs despite us all being stuck at home.

What has the impact been on photographers?

During such uncertain times, it’s not surprising so many of us are feeling the pressure of current restrictions. The speed with which COVID spread didn’t help matters. We went from business-as-usual to being unable to open our studios, share a room with our clients, or do any of the everyday tasks we took for granted in a pre-Coronavirus world.

The first few months of lockdown in 2020 forced our country and most others around the globe into a state of deep uncertainty and fear. While restrictions may have lifted, life never fully returned to normal for anyone. A second lockdown prior to Christmas was tough to stomach. As we rang in the new year, we were faced with a third, prolonged period of lockdown, and photographers up and down the country have been hit hard.

Even during the period of fewer restrictions, bookings were well down for most of us. Newborn photographers in particular struggled to book customers.

Are there any positive innovations to report here?

Those least affected (unsurprisingly) have been product photographers who, due to the nature of their subject matter, can continue taking photographs without occupying a room with anyone else.

Their situation has been helped by the pressure retailers are experiencing to sell online, and their sudden need for high-quality product images.

Despite this, photographers across the spectrum have been affected. Whether you had 6 months or 10 plus years of experience under your belt when COVID hit, things have been tough for the last year.

Moving forward

With nineteen per cent of photographers considering a change in career, what does the future hold for the industry in the wake of the pandemic?

Despite progress being made in the production of vaccines, there are still many things out of our control at the moment. Given everything that’s happened, many photographers are wondering what to expect when we finally get a handle on this thing and lockdown lifts for good.

Despite the difficulties that the industry has faced during the pandemic, the statistics are showing us that, by and large, photographers expect to be able to return to business as usual.

In fact, with necessity being the mother of invention, some photographers have discovered new ways of working and collaborating, new creative outlets, workarounds and digital solutions and platforms which they will carry forward into the “new normal”.  Clients, too, have come to expect fewer physical meetings and may have embraced digital and remote ways of working, which could mean more cost-effective and less travel-reliant working practices.

When will things get back to normal for photographers?

The biggest impact COVID has had on photography businesses is the ability to take bookings. With studios unable to allow people in unless stringent social distancing rules are in place, having more than one subject, household or bubble present for a shoot has been impossible.

Add to this the closeness with which photographers usually work with their subjects, and the need to wear masks, things have been very difficult indeed.

The final hurdle has been the suddenly introverted mentality of a huge proportion of the population. Just as many people continued to avoid going to pubs and restaurants, even after the government said they could reopen, many have been reluctant to risk doing things they usually wouldn’t think twice about.

This time, however, we are in a very different situation. Vaccines are rolling out, and the ‘end’ of the crisis is at least on the horizon for the first time since it began.

Photography after COVID

In the UK, photographers have at last been thrown a lifeline. There is now a roadmap out of lockdown and we’re all hoping we can meet the milestone dates and, at some point, not only will lockdown restrictions lift completely, but the population at large will no longer live in constant fear and paranoia of contracting the virus.

When that happens, photographers are expecting things to go back to ‘normal’ fairly quickly.

Take away the barriers that made people reluctant to book last summer, and suddenly they will want to get back to doing everything they would normally have done.

Not only that, but many will want to make up for lost time as soon as it’s safe to do so. Indeed, in some areas, we can expect a surge of activity.

New mums (and dads) will be wanting that first set of professional photography shots of their child, even if they’re a little older than originally intended. Couples who have become engaged and even married during the pandemic will be seeking to have shoots done to celebrate their union – albeit in an unconventional way.

The beauty of photography has always been its ability to make its subjects immortal, and the industry itself is no different. People will never stop wanting photos of their loved ones and special occasions, and businesses will never stop needing images of their staff, services, and products.

Despite the pandemic, we at Aaduki are here to help arrange the perfect bespoke photography insurance for you and your photography business. Contact our team today to arrange a quote.

Paul Newberry Cert CII

Lead Client Adviser