With normal life in the United States shut down due to the coronavirus, those who are fortunate not to be dealing with difficult health issues or financial distress may be looking for ways to continue their photographic pursuits without venturing from home. Here are a few ways photographers can get creative with their cameras while waiting out the pandemic.
One might think a landscape photographer can proceed with business as usual. After all, traveling to remote locations to photograph the landscape is often a solitary pursuit. But given the nature of shelter in place orders, as well as the ethical obligation to minimize any burden on first responders and essential workers, the best practice really is to stay home. So instead of photographing big landscapes outdoors, nature photographers may instead prefer to get smaller and use a macro lens to photograph the details of the landscapes around their own homes. Trees and flowers are in bloom across the country, and the bees and bugs are out there doing their part. It’s a great time to explore your yard with a macro lens photographing everything from the textures of tree bark to the new growth on a flowering tree branch.
Document Your Life
For people who are home with their families and putting to the test the idea of “quality time,” one simple photography project is to document what’s going on around the house. I’m confident that I’ll eventually look back on this time with a certain amount of fondness since I’m getting to spend so much more time with my wife and kids than I ever could have dreamed of. I’m constantly picking up my camera to record the strange and surreal things we’re doing, as well as the mundane but meaningful parts of daily life. I’m hopeful that at some point these photographs will serve as a meaningful part of our family’s story.
Artists around the world have been embracing their creativity as they write and paint and photograph in new ways that may be quite different from their typical process. But that’s where the magic happens! Photographers need not feel tied to the direct documentation of subjects. Instead, consider making abstract artworks with a camera. This could include anything from deliberately out-of-focus images that function as impressionist paintings or lensless photography that’s more like modern art. However you do it, the important thing is to try something new and flex those creative muscles. Aiming for abstraction is a great way to free the mind from the burden of trying to make something look a certain way and instead embrace the happy accidents that occur in exploration.
Still Life Tabletop Photography
Those with a garden or green thumb have a natural advantage with a wealth of new subjects springing up all around. A bowl of flowers is great, but almost anything works for a still life photograph. Just look to the work of the great master painters for inspiration. A north-facing window provides beautiful illumination and anything from a white wall to a dark shadow can provide a clean background for a bowl of oranges, a vase of flowers or even an artful arrangement of everyday objects. The act of constructing a scene to photograph it also exercises some creative muscles that many photographers, in particular, may not regularly use. Not only can still life photography produce beautiful results but it’s also good for you too!
One group of photographers who may be particularly frustrated by this downtime is those who are used to using their cameras to earn income. Pros everywhere—from wedding photographers to sports shooters, portrait specialists to product photographers—are out of work. One viable alternative to sitting idle is to consider shooting for stock photography. Even before the coronavirus, stock photography was more approachable than ever, and while the fees for licensing are way down compared to the glory years, licensing stock imagery is still a viable path to augmenting income from photography. Stock need not be highly produced imagery, either. Anything from snapshots of the kids to, frankly, any of the other options included above: abstracts, flowers, still life and more. All of it has the potential to be licensed as stock. So if you’re a pro who’s out of work, consider combing through your archive for images to submit, then start shooting with stock in mind. It’s a sideline that can remain helpful to a business’s bottom line even when things get back to a new normal.