Let’s face it. After 18 days of lockdown, we are all getting a bit iffy and edgy. If we are not out shooting, we are not making money. If we don’t have money we can’t buy more gear, who cares about bills anyway? Hahaha…OK, jokes aside. Being stuck between the four corners of your property can bring to the edge of photography suicide.
It does not have to be that way though. Just because you are not driving to another photoshoot doesn’t mean you can’t shoot. Here are some extra tips for you all during the lockdown period.
– Sort out your hard drives –
Sigh, we all hate doing that. We have all been downloading images, retouching, saving and then backing up and that is where it ends. Navigating your hard drives can sometimes feel like driving with a blindfolded person in a car with no lights. It doesn’t have to be that way though.
Go through your files and start categorizing them according to what they did. My files for clients are all saved under different folders. Commercial clients, architectural (subdivided per architect), guest houses, surfing, etc, you get the idea. It just makes it that much easier to find what you are looking for. I leave my images in dated folders with location i.e Surfing, 2016_08_15 Mossel Bay.
Sorting out your hard drives will leave you with a sense of satisfaction similar to finally sorting out all your gear and having it cleaned as well.
– Clean your gear –
A vital part of our work but oftentimes not done as it should be. Our gear is our income. Dirty gear, early failure, no income, and more expenses. That equates to bad business strategy. Grab an old toothbrush, or if the wife has an old makeup brush, clean and use that. They are great for gear because they are soft and bendy. Camera bodies are full of little space where dust collects. Remove the viewfinder and blow out loose dust with your rocket blower and brush off excess dust after that.
As for lenses do the same around the zoom, focus ring, and filter thread. Dust in the thread can wear out filters and the thread prematurely. Lens elements are of course best cleaned with a few blasts of your rocket blower to remove loose dust and if you have some, premade wipes like those from Zeiss. You can get these at most eyewear stores and many camera stores. They are prepacked and very effective.
Now is the best time to grab your gear and give it a thorough cleaning. At the same time look for damage that you may have missed previously.
Also, remember to give your tripod a good once over. If you can, take it apart and clean all the bits and pieces. If you have tripod legs that clamp into position, lubricate the clamps with a small amount of silicone spray.
– Insurance –
If you are shooting full time, you have insurance. Period. We can’t afford having gear stolen or damaged and then having to fork out thousands to replace it. Grab your insurance schedule and check the items listed on it. Is your policy up to date? Is your gear insured for replacement value? If you not, make a plan and advise your insurer about the changes. The last thing you want to do is pay in massive differences on a claim. And make sure of your liability that is in place. What does it cover and do you need to add something?
– Shooting in lockdown –
For those of you who have kids, there is a gold mine of photo opportunities. No, I don’t mean getting them to pose all over the garden and in strange positions. Most kids have Lego, action figures or the like. If you have anything that remotely resembles a garden you can have some epic fun. Come on, no one is watching. No clients wondering what you are doing pointing your camera into a bush. It gets the creative juices flowing again and makes for some great fun and laughs with the kids.
All serious photographers suffer from GAS, gear acquisition syndrome. Yes, that is a real and devastating disease. Somewhere along the line you have either bought old manual lense like the ASAHI Pentax lense and reversed them to use as macro lenses. Or, you purchased a set of extension tubes. Grab the tubes and a lens and experiment. I recently used my Sigma 17-70mm f2.8- F4 DC OS HSM Macro lens mounted onto a Kenko extensions tube and a 2x converter to get the following shot.
If you are lucky enough to have a macro lens get that out and make a DIY diffuser from a yogurt container and some paper towel. You will be surprised at how effective they are. And you won’t feel bad if they get damaged while you chase down an elusive insect or spider.
Lockdown does not have to mean shutdown.
Refer back to the first item.
While sorting out your hard drive, why not start uploading to stock photography sites such as Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Adobe Stock. You may not get stinking rich from these sales, but why not let all those unused images work for you. Let’s face it, what use are the thousands of photos on your hard drives if they are not making money for you? I am sure that anyone reading this, would love that extra income.
– Learn, learn and learn –
If you are saying you already know everything there is to know, slap yourself, hard!! Now take a deep breath and tell yourself, “I will never know everything” Now that you feel better, take some time and research the masters of your genre. Read what makes them tick, look at their work over and over. Not to copy them, but to learn from them. See why their images are so sought after. Try and reverse engineer the shot. Figure out what, how and where details for the shot.
One thing I have learned in this industry is the moment you think you have something down, there is the next thing. Don’t limit yourself, don’t place yourself in a box and shooting the same thing over and over. Yes, it may work for a while, but then people get bored with your work. Do something fresh, something new. If you do weddings, learn something about product photography, it will help you infinitely when capture rings and table details. Learn about something that will compliment your genre and what you do. Don’t just sit and wait to get our there again and do the same old thing.
Happy days all and stay safe!!