• Nikki De Jager

Feeling The COVID19 Effect on Photography

Updated: May 6

Feeling the effect on industry and income

As the medical community races to understand how the Coronavirus spreads, and what it does to the body, most people are hunkering down in an effort of self preservation while others treat the pandemic like nothing out of the norm. Unfortunately, our industry relies on the interaction of people and things. So, in a climate where one is too afraid to step out of the door, how do you maintain a consistent income stream with clients?

How does one face the cancellation of events, weddings and parties due to travel restrictions and limitations imposed on people's movements? South Africa's lock-down has been extended, but the lock-down level has been lowered which has eased some burden for a minor part of the people and economy. What it means for the photographers of the country. Hobbyist photographers still may not be out and about. The garden and it's mini world is as far are they can go. Professionals still have strict regulations preventing them from working, unless part of the media and holding a media permit.

The income impact has been disastrous for many and no available relief from the government is available to unless a registered company, even then there are major caveats placed as to who will be helped. Many photographers operate as sole traders and do not have registered enterprises and so they cannot claim any relief fund, should they actually qualify. I, myself, have all my lined up commissions for the next 3 months cancelled at the start of lock-down and had literally just bought thousands of Rands of studio equipment in anticipation for my next run of packshot commissions.

As the numbers of ill/ infected climb exponentially throughout the country, one will have to find a means of doing something different with photography or editing skillsets. The question really is... what? What can be done where movement is restricted and curfews in place? What can be done where only items considered essential can be sold? What can be done where certain work categories remain unable to work until such time as the government deems it safe.

As beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so does what individuals consider critical/essential. One needs an income to live.

All that said, hopefully the outlook may not be as bleak once the global economy starts recovering from the pandemic, but what do we do until then?

I would say that for now, our options are to buckle down, stay safe and get creative with our photos. Perhaps being locked in to a space for this duration will open our eyes in a different way; maybe create an appreciation that was not there before.

For now, all we can do is support one another and stay safe.

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