Photography During the Pandemic Part 2
By Michael Ernest Sweet
In this second installment of this three-part series on photography during the pandemic, I want to take a look at two more areas where you might make good use of your at-home time and still enjoy your photographic hobby – attending to the “business” of your photography, as well as editing and printing.
Attend to the Business End of Things
Even though many of us are amateur photographers, with no real need for sophisticated business operations, nearly everyone, however amateur, has a website. If you don’t, maybe you should. Visibility is everything and websites are a great tool to that end. Think of it as a virtual room where anyone and everyone can visit and see your work – on demand. And, with that in mind, the room is often as impactful as the work in it. This may not seem fair, but there is a reason why museum spaces are spectacular in themselves. Legendary NYC photographer, Jay Maisel, wrote to me once and said, “Michael, your pictures are great but your website sucks”. Ever since I have kept an eye on the overall polish of my public presence. Even if you have a website, maybe now is the time not to rebuild Rome but to merely shore up a few crumbling walls. For example, a photo refresh is an important aspect of maintaining an effective website. If you publish too many images, people become fatigued when they visit. However, if you don’t refresh, or change the photos, people will revisit once or twice and then decide that there is no reason to return again. Now that you’ve cleaned up and organized your archives, I bet you have loads of images ready to enter circulation.
Under the “business end of things” we might also add networking. Networking is something we are all familiar with and know the benefits of, but rarely have the time to actually do. Now is the time. Although we may, at first blush, think of the old handshake when we think of networking, there are many other and more effective ways to get the job done. Boosting your LinkedIn profile and connections is a great place to begin. Many LinkedIn profiles are incomplete or unprofessional in appearance. It takes time to get it right, and guess what? Now you have the time. Dive in! When you finish, open an incognito window and visit your own LinkedIn link. How does it look for someone on the outside? Would you hire yourself if you read this profile? When your profiles are in order, you might also look into joining some online communities and groups that operate in your genre of street photography. Just because we are physically distancing does not mean we cannot forge new acquaintances and even friendships, albeit virtually. Then, finally, there is Instagram. I am a very lame participant with Instagram, so I will not dispense too much advice on this one. However, the same holds true – take some time to polish your feed and reach out to new followers. This is a time-consuming task and now may be a time when you find yourself with a few extra minutes.
Copyright ⓒ Michael E. Sweet
Editing & Printing
Editing and printing are extremely time-consuming aspects of a photographer’s practice. I long for the old days when you, more or less, took what you got from the negative. Yes, there was burning and dodging and all that jazz but somehow it didn’t feel as painful as Photoshop or Lightroom. I guess it was more kinesthetic somehow. Photoshop and Lightroom require time in front of the screen and what better time than now. I’m sure you found many images when you were organizing your archives that need a little touch-up. Go for it. Oh, and if you never bothered to invest the time to learn these software programs, maybe that’s worth a visit now also.
Printing is also tedious and physically ties one to their home. In fact, one of my friends often complained of never being home long enough when questioned about why she printed so infrequently. Problem solved. Although getting supplies for printing right now may present a challenge for some, a little persistence and patience will go a long way. Order now, and you will be able to print later. Along the same lines, many companies offer high-quality photo bookmaking that is fully online and allows for a lot of tinkering and calibration. Making these kinds of bound prints can be both an opportunity to build your own physically printed collection of your work, as well as to make less expensive collectibles for your followers. Mpix could be a great place to begin, their photo books are exquisite quality and fairly priced. They also often have sales and coupons too!