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Top 15 Tips on How to Grow your Photography Business During a Pandemic

Grow Your Photography Business

With stay at home and quarantine orders going up all over the world, businesses of every description are scratching their heads, looking for different ways to work to keep their businesses afloat during these difficult times.

The photography industry is one that is facing dramatic losses and daunting challenges right now, and many photographers don’t know if their businesses will survive.

Photography clients continue to cancel and postpone, enquiries have declined or ceased altogether, and the Government has expressly prohibited photography businesses from operating in some areas, making photography during COVID nigh on impossible, and leaving some wondering when can photographers go back to work?

It goes without saying that this all pales in comparison to the lives lost and the lives devastated. But, for those of us who are fortunate enough to remain healthy, life carries on. Bills have to be paid, and to pay them you need money, and to get money—that’s right—you have to work.

  • But what do you do when the work has dried up?
  • Can your business survive?
  • What are your options?


How to Make Money as a Photographer During COVID 19

The simple answer is you have to adapt!

Experiment with New Ideas
It may seem counterintuitive, but now is the time to introduce new products, launch new sessions, and experiment with new ways of doing business.

Focus on Your Clients More than Ever
When work is slow, you can give so much more of yourself to the clients you do have. Wash your hair and make time for a face-to-face Zoom call. Send a check-in text or email to the clients you’re close to. Stay focused on documenting your clients’ stories and leave the never-ending pandemic talk to the news pundits.

Keep Up with Social Media
Just because people aren’t booking doesn’t mean they aren’t looking. Keep posting to social media, blogging about sessions, sending personal notes to clients, and looking for opportunities to showcase your work.

If you haven’t shot anything recently, dig back through your archives and share images from past sessions, or reshare photos that your followers liked the first time around

Help Your Wedding Clients Rethink Their Plans
Stay in close contact with all of your postponing clients, and even consider a follow-up email to any clients who have full-on cancelled their wedding photography. Many couples are tired of delaying and have decided to reimagine their wedding as an elopement or a “micro-wedding.” Make sure they know you’re on board with their plans—whatever they may be!

Incentivise Your Wedding Clients to Keep You
Similarly, consider offering your wedding clients a service discount or a product bonus if they keep you as their photographer—even for a smaller celebration.

Tiny, back yard weddings deserves great images, too!

Focus on Portrait Photography
Due to the nature of this coronavirus, it’s easier to continue photographing if your clientele are primarily individuals and families. These clients are also best able to flex their schedules, shooting locations, and even group sizes to comply with the rules around households mixing.

Get Selling Your Products
If you’ve never put much emphasis on product sales, this is a great time to change gear!

If the very thought of “selling” anything makes you cringe, consider partnering with a talented salesperson or a gallery who will handle your product sales session in exchange for a percentage of the sales

Think Beyond the Super-Big Jobs
As with weddings, you may be able to incentivise your large clients to repurpose their planned photography investment for another photo project.

  • socially distanced outdoor headshots and portraits
  • small product photography
  • architectural images of the company’s or organization’s building and grounds
  • team collages of individual players rather than one big group photo

Don’t Abandon Your Marketing!
This probably feels like the right time to take a break from touting your business and advertising your upcoming mini sessions. But in reality, this is the time to double down on your marketing efforts!

Here’s why:

  • The market is wide open. The photo industry got hit hard, almost overnight. So, a lot of photographers have made the personal choice to cut back, close down, or go on hiatus. Totally a reasonable decision to make for some folks. But that leaves even more opportunity for YOU to step in and promote your own work.
  • People crave normality. It feels better than ever to see a friend, eat a delicious meal, or discover a new book. Be part of that sought-after normality by sharing photos of happy people, highlighting beautiful moments, and demonstrating how you can create similar memories for other clients.

Offer Your Clients Different Photography Solutions
Depending on the size of the products you photograph, you may be able to shift your product photography approach enough to continue working. As companies accept this “new normal,” it may be the perfect time to open a dialogue with your corporate contacts to discuss reimagining your products shoots so the work doesn’t have to end completely.
How much of the work can be done solo or with a very small team?
Does the shoot location matter? If the client can be flexible, where can you legally go to shoot?
Can you revisit your contract(s) and offer a scaled-down version of the originally proposed project—one that causes fewer challenges?

Don’t Stop Shooting
You don’t need clients to take pictures. In fact, some of the world’s most impactful photographers shoot solely for their own artistic enjoyment. This is the time to reconnect with your creative roots and fine-tune your vision.

Branch Out into a New Genre
Look outside your preferred genre at other ways to make money with your camera, such as:

  • lifestyle family sessions at the park
  • pre-wedding shoots to document this time for couples who have postponed their weddings
  • portraits of local political candidates
  • small product photography for Etsy or eBay shops
  • food photography for local restaurants

Don’t Assume ALL Your Clients are Struggling Financially
It’s easy to assume that everyone’s struggles are the same. It’s the idea that “if I can’t afford it, surely no one else can afford it; so I shouldn’t even try to sell it.” But that’s FAR from the truth. While you’re praying that £100 invoice gets paid, someone else is out there buying a brand new car in cash.

Also don’t be afraid to reach out to past clients to see if they have any photography needs you could meet. Some people are in a great financial situation and are willing/able to spend money on a new session, purchase prints, or buy an album etc.

Plan for the Future
Some people are incredibly diligent when it comes to saving money, and those photographers have struggled the least during this crisis. You might be tempted to begrudge them their foresight, but instead take this opportunity to plan for the future. Rework your budget, and makes plans to save as soon as saving is a viable option.

Diversify Your Income Stream
Diversification can be tough in the best of times, and we fully recognise that it’s even tougher when the sky seems to be falling all around you. But if desperate times call for desperate measures, then this is the moment to get drastic.

This can mean everything from shooting a new genre of photography to adding pizza delivery or painting contractor to your repertoire. Nothing is off-limits when it comes to your long-term health and happiness.

Afterall they do say ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’

It’s not an easy time for any business at the moment but hopefully this guide has given you some inspiration and tips to help get you through these uncertain times.

If you’ve found this article useful, please leave any comments below.

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Business Opportunities Top 15 Tips on How to Grow your Photography Business During a Pandemic