How to Deal with Lockdown as a Professional Photographer in London
The national lockdown is affecting everybody in so many ways, but how can we as professional photographers make this time work for us.
Working from home has certainly become the new normal for most people. But professional photographers have been working like this forever. Unless you have your own dedicated studio space, the majority of people in the freelance photography business have been calling their home, 'the office' for many years. It is the place we edit our images, market our work and clear the never ending stream of admin... For many of us, like it or not, this is normal. However now, we can cannot go out and actually take the photos to edit. We cannot go out and meet the clients we've marketed towards. And so what do we have left, admin... This is a struggle for many and a fresh challenge for all. Especially if you're juggling childcare and/or a partner who is suddenly around a lot more than they used to be! While the vaccine being rolled out across the world is a shinning light at the end of the tunnel, it looks as though normality is some way off for all of us.
So here are 9 handy tips to optimise your workspace and maintain your productivity as a professional photographer during lockdown.
Create a Separate Photography Workspace
This is a crucial step if you want to be able to separate work and personal life during lockdown. Not only that, but it will help to keep you focused and encourage your productivity. Your workspace should only be filled with items that inspire or help your work. Computer, paper, pens, diary and a Sports Direct mug of tea/coffee should be all you need.
Having a dedicated environment, rather than the sofa, will help to keep the boundary between work life and personal/family life - for your loved ones and you. This is not always achievable straight away, but over time this can become more habitual for the whole family.
Make this workspace your retreat, your escape from reality. A warm atmosphered space that will keep you feeling positive and fresh. Bring in some life from the outside like plants and flowers or brighten it with art or even better, your own framed photography.
Creating a personalised area that makes you smile will encourage a positive association with your workspace and your work.
Set Your Working Hours
Us photographers are known to be workaholics, especially the freelance ones. But it's vital to set yourself routine working hours and stick to them. It will benefit your concentration, productivity, mental health and relationships - all of which need to be cared for right now.
Your normal days of shooting, meeting clients and out of the house tasks have all been taken away quite quickly, but setting up a new routine will help combat this big shift. Don’t forget, setting working hours encourages you to switch off as well, including working from your mobile phone such as on social media platforms. Think about your mobile phone usage during working hours and after, to ensure they are not overlapping. Overall, setting boundaries on timings will help you in the long run, and having your own time or family time is just as important for your mental health, so make sure you factor this in.
Make Sure Your Clients are in the Loop
It goes without saying, this is a weird time for all of us, and there is no set right or wrong way to deal with anything right now. But bear in mind, however worried you are about future bookings, your photography clients are equally nervous. Make sure you have thought about how you're going to deal with future bookings, and also how you're going to keep them safe. This could be in the form of a social media post, an update on your website or a friendly email/phone call.
It can seem daunting to speak to clients for fear of being let down, but they are in the same uncertain boat as you, so sometimes a positive chat can be enough to put their minds at ease, and reinforce why they chose you in the first place. Don't hide from your fears, confront them, and usually they're not so scary.
Give Your Brain a Break
Working hard is to be encouraged and right now, applauded! But you have to remember to let your brain relax. When you are in an office environment for example you are often given little breaks without even knowing it. A colleague comes over to chat, you make a cup of coffee, or maybe you go the long way round when visiting the toilets - all these little reliefs that your brain used to get are not being received any more, so you need to now manufacture them. Beat the isolation and take a breather outside, phone a loved one or walk the dog. Do something that will take your mind off work and get your blood flowing.
Keep Your Chin Up
The English are famous for their stiff upper lip. Their ability to ignore their own problems. But right now, this will not help anyone. We're all suffering in a variety of different ways, and its up to you to do something for yourself, and others.
If you don't feel like being productive every day, don't feel bad about it. You've probably skimmed over hundreds of blog posts that all tell you about the latest things you should be doing at home. Baking, learning languages or learning photography! But if you don't feel motivated to do anything, don't beat yourself up, you'll only feel worse. Simply set yourself small targets. Daily jobs that will give you the sense of accomplishment you need. You don't have to achieve every work goal right now, and make the best banana bread ever. Take your time and the results will hurry up.
With social distancing firmly in place, the people that may have kept your spirits up before over a coffee, dinner or a beer are sorely missed, but they are still there. Use the wonderful technology that has been developed to stay in touch, even if it’s just a quick and friendly catchup. You can call, use FaceTime, Zoom, chat, even have a virtual Friday night drink with a few friends at once. These little chats, even as silly as they may seem, could be an excellent excuse for a break and a quick smile to lighten the mood.