How automotive photographers can occupy themselves during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing the world to a standstill, and is impacting the automotive sector greatly. Automotive brands, race-pilots or mechanics are not the only ones impacted, motorsport and automotive photographers are some of the casualties as well.

Their entire calendar has been cleared, by all the different shoots and events that are being canceled or postponed. These events are not only the main source of income for these photographers, they are also their main source of fun!

This is why we decided to write an article, helping the photographers among our readers how to make the most of this time. This won’t bring the missed opportunities back, but they might help you make the restart after lockdown go smoother!

 

Focus on the short-term first

The first thing you should have done, was connecting to the clients you already planned to shoot, to see and discuss how you were going to proceed. Cancel, reschedule, or postpone the shoot? If you’re working with deposits, try to turn them into retainers.

You can always consult a lawyer to get your contracts checked and see if you actually have to return deposits, since you’re still willing to shoot... However, this could harm your brand more than what the deposit was worth for.

This might be an important lesson to look for a more varied portfolio of clients. For example, most magazines and blogs are still publishing their content, so try to pitch them some of the older - unpublished - pictures you took in the past!

 

What’s okay to shoot right now?

Firstly, it’s important to think about the health risks and your social responsibilities. We advise you to consult your local government sources (local health department) and talk with them about continuing with your business.

Every country is in another state of lockdown at the moment, so we can’t properly advise you on this topic - your local government can probably tell you if you are allowed to continue your business and even better: they might give you more insights on the compensations they have for freelancers or local businesses.

Again - we would like to emphasize: consult official sources and not your local Facebook group, because you won’t get a proper answer there.

 

How to work on your personal brand without taking pictures?

With the current lockdown, it makes no sense to create content with the goal to drive sales and get new clients, because no brand or client will be confirming photoshoots right now. That’s why you should focus on building your community and showing your credibility towards your followers. By focusing on your community, you’ll increase your brand awareness and might even draw the attention of future clients.

Here is how you build your audience during the lockdown:

 

Focus on growing your community

Most of your fans and followers will be using their social media accounts heavily in the coming weeks as we look to stay connected to each other, so as a photographer it’ll be your prime tool to showcase your past work and drive engagement to trigger the social media algorithms.

You’re basically setting the foundation for your personal online brand, so take the time to follow and engage with accounts that inspire you and push you to do even better.

 

Offer virtual services to your community

While you can’t do any photoshoots for the moment, try to not to overload your community with your older content either.

You’ve got some time on your hands, so use it in a creative way!

Depending on your audience you can look at hosting Q&A’s, do a room tour of your office, or organize a Twitch stream where you can display your editing skills - just like Mike Crawat is doing.

 

Blog to show your knowledge

Blogging has always been a powerful tool for brands, so it’s probably something you should look into as a photographer as well.

Firstly it helps improve the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your website, making it easier for people to find your website via Google. After all, most companies will be Googling you before they hire you, so that’s a good thing.

Secondly, blogging is a way to showcase your knowledge about a certain topic towards future clients. If you pick your topics wisely, you’ll be able to educate them about certain topics.

Furthermore, it’s a great took to start a conversation with your audience - which on his turn gives you fuel to keep your social media accounts alive.

And finally, it gives you the opportunity to showcase your work in a creative way, since you’ll be showcasing your own photographs along the way. People will spend longer reading your blog and noticing your photograph than they would while swiping their social media feed where your shot is just one of the many pictures that will be displayed. Here are some examples of blogs you could create:

  • Your favorite shots you took the past few months
  • A blog about your camera gear, and how you use it
  • Some specific topics:
    • How you narrow down your photo selection
    • How a camera lens depends on the situation you are in

 

Aside from the content itself, these blog posts also give you credibility and trust. Potential clients might read these and think, “He really knows what he’s talking about!”

 

Work on your social media feeds

Put some time and thought into your social media profiles: See if they are showcasing the personal brand you’re trying to create and plan your posts for the next few weeks.

You can already line up your posts for the next month, filled with throwback pictures from older shoots. You can also re-edit the older pictures you have, to make them look like new content!

If your following mostly consists of race-drivers, post race related content, Make them guess what track your photo was shot at, or invent other fun games.

 

Update your marketing material and refine your workflow

You won’t be creating new content at the moment, however, you can already work on smoothing your workflow for whenever you will be creating new content!

Now is the perfect time to update your price sheet, create a “welcome” mail for new newsletter subscribers, update your website with new images and write SEO-related content, increase the load speed of your website, etc. etc.

 

Start or work on your email marketing list

An email marketing list can be an interesting tool to keep your clients up-to-date about your latest news. If you haven’t already started one this can be a great time to get started!

Not sure how to collect email addresses? Simple! Ask your past clients if they’d like to be added, or give potential customers the option to submit their email address when they are making an appointment for a shoot.

Start sending out a newsletter as soon as you have a few followers, and keep them consistent! This will make you an email expert by the time your newsletter has a huge amount of following.

 

Create concepts and brainstorm

If you haven’t already started planning your schedule for December or January, right now is the ideal period to complete this. Sketch out a plan for the summer, fall and winter. What would you want your schedule to look like? How many new clients would fit in your agenda?

 

Improve your future shoots

As a photographer, you probably have hit a few creative walls already. You’ve been working hard to improve your skills with every shoot, but now without shoots, you’re standing still. And you know the saying: if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards!

Here are some ideas to keep moving:

Educate yourself

As a photographer you’ll do new things with every shoot you do, and maybe even every edit you make. However: there is a difference in looking up a certain YouTube tutorial, and actually learning and practicing new stuff.

The more you know, the more services you can offer. So use the time you have wisely, and develop yourself even more.

We’ve listed a few topics you might want to look into:

  1. Know your gear inside out
  2. Learn and understand how to manipulate the lights
  3. Know your angles
  4. Improve your editing skills - we have some other blogs that can help you
  5. Try out some presets from other photographers on your photos, to get out of your comfort zone and improve your skills
  6. Maybe even looking into a new skill set, related to the skills and gear you already have? For example: graphic design or video editing?

 

Create mood boards and scout locations

By creating mood boards, you are using the time you have right now, to make your future shoots go faster and easier. This way, you’ll have more time left for location scouting or actual shooting.

Never made a mood board before? No worries, we ‘ve got you!

Mood boards are basically visual collages of inspiration designed to provide your client a visual reference guide, so he can see what the photo might look like and what vibe you are going for,even before you had your photoshoot. It can include anything: photography, illustrations, colors, and more.

Simply put, mood boards are a collection of images that convey the theme, style, direction and inspiration of your shoot. For example, it wouldn't make sense to photograph an oldtimer in a farm when you’re trying to create a luxury vibe.

 

Reorder & catalog your pictures

Lastly - and maybe the most boring thing to do in photography...You can re-order and re-catalog your photos. This gives you a nice overview of all the pictures you’ve already shot, and maybe you’ll even discover a few beauties you forgot about!

 

Conclusion

Stay busy, keep developing yourself.

While you won’t be able to spend this time on photoshoots, you may as well spend it on getting ready for when you’re able to go out again. Remember: If you’re standing still, you’re going backwards!