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How Has The Coronavirus Affected Your Business

As of March 14th, everything in the United States has changed. Within just a few days the economy has ground to a halt and it's taken the majority of photo/video jobs with it. 

Most of my friends in real life are photographers and I have literally thousands of Facebook friends in the industry as well. Everyone is saying the same thing; all of the jobs have been postponed or canceled and no new jobs are coming in. Once the virus is under control in a few weeks/months will everything simply go back to the way it was before or are we heading into the next big recession? 

I'd like to know what you think. Below, I've come up with a few simple questions for you to answer. 

In the comment section below, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Where do you live, what is the photo/video market doing in your area? Does anyone have any new work coming in? How long can you ride this out and when do you expect this to be over? 

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135 Comments

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Ryan Burleson's picture

Photography is a side hustle, Im in the supply chain industry as main job, it's an essential job no matter what. Our regulations have all been dropped by the US Gov allowing us work non stop getting needed supplies to the world. I do believe we will have a "lag" in regaining our normal economy which in my opinion was having big issues already. I normally just hire models to shoot but will not even consider booking anyone right now due to all the unknowns. Ive seen most of the traveling models giving up and removing their travel notices everywhere.

I believe photography and non essential jobs will not be seen in the same way after this event, notice they are the first things gone, this is a wake up call to many. Lots of people were living in a fantasy, reality now has the biggest following. I have a paid member site and it has been very slow in new customers for a few days thus far, I am not expecting this to change during this event however long it lasts. Just like restaurants you either close or you change your service.

I am also wondering if you guys running this site listen to Peter S. since you are his neighbor in PR? If there was ever a time to enact a "universal basic income" it's right now, worldwide immediately. Not conditional stimuluses, everyone is affected.

USA needs to just pull a France and lock it all down right now to get this thing figured out quicker.

Logan Cressler's picture

I would argue that a crisis/emergency is the last time you want to be pushing through sweeping changes to our entire countries government and economic model, by politicians who are the most corrupt in the history of our nation. But sure why not. Lets give everyone free everything! Lets also mandate that all carbon emissions be lowered to zero immediately, and that we launch an ark of humans to Pluto by the end of the year. While we are panicking, we can also vote away the first 10 amendments, we dont need them anymore either.

Phanes Chatzistamatiou's picture

Hello from Greece, the situation here is tough. We have in total 228 covid-19 positive and 4 deaths. The country is in total shut down, only super markets are aloud to open. The government is hiring about 2000 medical stuff and buys inventory for the hospitals. If you combine the non cash flaw of the average greek right now and some other factors we are at the dawn of a new financial crisis. The other factors are: 1) The borders, were thousands of immigrants want to pass to the EU, 2) Things arent going well with the Turkish government, that means that we are close to a war like episode in the near future, 3) The future of the virus is foggy and nobody knows how long will take to beat the virus. So if we combine all these plus the fact that Greece's main money maker is tourism, we can say with certainty that tomorrow will not be brighter than today.

Gonzalo Balbás's picture

I'm from Spain. We have the most incompetent government. We had the example of Italy and did NOTHING, not even Airport controls... Now we are overtaking South Korea.

I'm 24, I just payed my 15.000€ loan for all my camera gear on December. Now I have no savings, and almost no jobs expected because of the incoming crisis...

Thankfully, I live with my mom and I don't have to pay for rent or food, but all my plans have gone to shit...

I spent the last 6 months planing how to get a job on car commercial photography. I designed and sent a printed Portfolio CV (with no luck) and I've just finished the Video CV that I'll send to no one as everything has stop.

What agency is going to hire me as junior, if the economy has gone to shit and now I have to compete with the old guys who have all the contacts I don't?

I wanted to buy your Monte's course so I can prepare for the future, but now that means 1/3 of all my money... Everything is wrong 😂

Thank God I'm not in debt... Best luck to all of you!

Lawrence S's picture

Reading the comments here, lots of people in the USA are completely underestimating this. Ignoring the crisis in Italy and the rest of Europe. Or not following the news, of course.

This will globally cause exponentially more damage.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Sorry to hear that, Gonzalo! Wish you the best of luck and let's hope this storm will be over asap!

Gonzalo Balbás's picture

Thanks a lot Mads, and thanks Fstoppers for the 30% discount on all courses!

Neil Gonzalez's picture

It's a great question and an interesting situation we're all in. Personally, I'm 2-3 years into starting my business and have had some serious health problems lately which has put me off work for a few months. This situation certainly doesn't help me to put it lightly. Watching your video this morning served me as a big wake up call to change profession (for now) in order to mitigate further problems.

Matteo Crema's picture

Hard times here in Italy. We have to stay home. everything is shut down. only things that works are supermarkets and pharmcies. I am really worried about my working future ... I am a wedding photographer for 70% of my professional activity. I believe I will lose thousands of Euros this year. the only thing I can do is take care of my health and that of my loved ones by staying at home. Fortunately, our national health system is holding up, but the deaths continue to increase and hospital beds are running out. stay safe.

ARNAUD HUYGENS's picture

I am in France, 90% my booking for the next 2 months has been postponed and pretty sure that the 10% left will be postponed too within days.

Guillaume Kayacan's picture

All my shoots are cancelled/moved to another date still to be confirmed.
So yeah it's gonna get pretty rough and I'm seriously considering focusing on releasing a series of prints/small coffee book :))

Jordan McChesney's picture

I know this post is more intended for “pros”, but as a hobbyist, I’m actually benefiting from the closer of my company. I’m going into my third week of partial paid leave, and I’ve been using the extra free time to bond with my daughter and focus on building the “business” side of my photography. In an average month, I only get out about twice to shoot and only have about 45 minutes a day to edit and do “business” stuff. Since this whole thing shut down Japan, I’ve been out to shoot twice this week and have spent a few hours a day editing and marketing, which has already lead to a sale. To top it off, places that are usually busy are empty, and thus are easier to shoot. I’ve already planned two more shots for the end of this month in locations usually swimming with tourists, but this year they will be much more open. I do hope things go back to normal soon, as I’m worried about my company’s financials, but I’m making the most of being able to dedicate more than a few hours a month to photography. I’ve been able to get months worth of work done in just a week.

I hope all the pros can get back to work soon, but I also hear a lot of them talking about how little time they have to shoot for themselves. I hope y’all can find some time to do something for yourself, in the meantime.

Eric Triplett's picture

The more social distancing we practice NOW, the less of an impact the coronavirus will have on us. If we do that, we will still suffer some economic decline. BUT if we act now, I think this will be over by mid-summer.
For those of you who depend on photography for a living, many jobs are just being postponed. I suspect you will be very busy in August.
I am a University professor in microbiology. As such, I am very fortunate. My work patterns have changed significantly but the financial impact is minor - so far. I just worry about family, friends, and neighbors getting sick.

Michael Smith's picture

Based in N. Africa. The world over reaction driven by USA media and election year politics is wrecking havoc on the rest of the globe. People get sick every year and most recover. Most of my work is local but EEUU business is having some impacts. Have had to cancel some work in Europe. Biggest problem are western world travel restrictions. Need to unplug CNN and US congress so that we can get back to work.

Mutley Dastardly's picture

Talk about months. The situation in Belgium is evolving to an Italian scale - due to the fact that we don't follow well enough the regulations. France, Spain, Germany - all taking more or less the same measures. Trying to stop the spreading while reducing social contacts. UK is keeping +70's in house.

In Belgium one of the ministers said - "stay in your house".

The virus is bad - really bad. Take it very seriously - and take measures. Take a lockdown for 2-3 months into account for your financial matters - no matter where you stay.

The EU isn't well enough prepared, the US, i believe is even in worser condition - while the structures for such a massive scale disaster have been hurt by less finances. You'll be hit - and it'll be hard.

Stop watching Fox News - the real information is on the WTO-website. Go there - read the stats - view the maps.
We at work - have canceled all courses for students - and are switching over to e-courses. All personel that can work from home has to work from home. We have to take precaussions - when being ill we have to stay home.

Do you US-citizens really think we do this for pleasure in the EU?

Look at the dramatic numbers. We in Belgium are on the same course as in Italy - moving to a total lockdown, and we're trying to keep things under control to slow it down. In the US you have still some time to react - but time is very short! It's a matter of days not weeks anymore.

The most dangerous fact on this virus is - that it stays 5à6 days under the radar - when it breaks out - one person can already have given it to +200 others. 80% of those will get a mild form - 20% of those will be hospitalized.
I'm amazed on how little information you've all gotten! Go to the BBC - there's a specific overview in English on Corona. Read that for good information (news.bbc.co.uk). Learn that in the US the news-sources are all biased. Fox news shouldn't be considered as a news source. Social media are no sources you can trust.

Numbers are going down now in Southern Korea and China - due to very stringent procedures. But it's far from over! The EU is now the center - and it'll come to the US. The travel-ban is a first step - to keep some of the virus out.

With all the bad information you receive over there - some of you still believe it's a hoax (i've seen it myself on fox!) - you'll be hit with a heavy peak. Where people die because there's no place and no medicals to treat them. Hospitals 'll become a triage like on a battlefield (that's what's not being that explicitly written about Italy but it's happening there - and it has occured in China too, there's no doubt about that). We've even seen on fox there aren't enough testing-kits. Now they move on to a quicker commercial procedure - we'll see how that goes.

Even in our country they have to monitor - and take measures. But at least we do it on a federal scale. That took a few days in Belgium first trying the gentle way - where you're now in the US. After a few days it can become more obligatory - to move into full shutdown when it doesn't help. Do as you're told to do! Try to avoid this shutdown scenario as is happening in Italy.

This is a harsh posting - i know - but it's the way i see things evolving (and i do have contacts in Italy - whole places are cut off of the outside world). There's no need to go like crazy after food - that's all fine - even in Italy!

I really 'd like to slam all those tuning it down. It's not what you should do. Take your responsability. Do as you're told. And when you cannot go to a restaurant or a pub into your own state - don't drive to another state where you can. You can spread the virus that way (they did that in Belgium - going to Holland or France to have lunch or have a beer)!

Gilmour Dickson's picture

As a photographic safari lodge manager/owner this is financially a disaster..... We are trying to get back home to Africa from Germany - already first flight was cancelled - to open our lodge for the season. Bookings have slowed to a stop. The season is really (in terms of international guests) from June onwards so while we are not seeing cancellations as yet we no doubt will... People are sitting and waiting. We are planning ways to survive as a business. It will for sure involve letting staff go. Which is terrible. I have personal savings enough that my wife and I will be okay for a year or so. But as for the business only time will tell. Really terrible times across the whole world.

Gabriel SAP's picture

I'm from Brazil and just moved to Portugal exactly on month ago after a very expensive immigration process that took over a year and is not over yet. In a couple months I have an appointment with the immigration office to show that my company is making money and that I have enough money to pay my bills for 6 months. And guess what? My business focus here is tourism/travel photography and all my photoshoots were cancelled.
Today I have enough money to live for 4-5 months and there's more money in Brazil but the brazilian Real (R$) has lost so much worth that it would give me just another 3 or 4 months tops.
I'm FREAKING OUT.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Oh wow, that's just a shit situation, man! I feel you. Have had someone close to me who also moved from another country and had to go through the same process. Add this situation and economy to it I understand why you're freaking out!

Gabriel SAP's picture

Thanks man. That's really shitty.

Peter House's picture

The impact has been tremendous for me and I am worried a fair bit. So far I have only had 2 cancelled jobs, and 3 jobs postponed, but I feel like next week is when things will get "serious" in Canada. Even though the cancellations and postponing has not been severe on my end, new bookings have been slowed to a trickle the last 2 weeks. I would estimate I am down a good 80-90%.

My biggest issue is my massive overhead. I need to make at bare minimum 10k/month just to cover expenses of running my studio. I have some savings/credit I can use to keep the place afloat for a while, but with overhead like that, it only stretches so far. If things don't improve by the summer I worry about keeping my studio.

David Penner's picture

I'm not a professional photographer so my experience might be different. The work I do is required by law. They might push stuff back a month or two if things get bad but with the fear has made it difficult to find people to do my work. If it doesnt get pushed back I'm pretty much going to be making as much in 3.5 months this year as I did all of last year just as an incentive to go out and get the job done. From a photography side of things I'd say now is the time for people to start learning other skills to go along with their photography work. Learn the video side of things if that is a weak point. If you are doing product photography maybe download something like Blender 3d (its free) and start messing with that. The more options you can provide your clients the better off you will be in the future. Lay offs happen and the thing is once they know they can have one person doing what 3+ people were doing before they will never go back to having 3+ people doing that job. With my line of work I can basically save them close to a million in wages just because I do have the skill set to take on multiple roles. I also prefer less people working under me since the job is dangerous and less people means less stress with managing people.

Norman Leftly's picture

Let me begin by stating that I'm semi-retired and adding that I have a lung condition that puts me in the high risk category so I have already self-isolated. However, I'm sure I'm not alone in having many many photography related tasks to do that I've been putting off for years. Coincidentally I received a £100 voucher towards a book print offer and as I have been meaning to create a book to cover the many aspects of my work over the years I have taken this opportunity to make this the first of my isolation tasks. Rummaging through 1,000s of files certainly took a lot longer than I first imagined and I estimate it took the best part of 18 hours a day for the first week ... time that I would never have been able to allocate under normal circumstances! The book has already been uploaded to the printer and I only had to add a further £100 to make this a luxurious leather bound print with acrylic cover and supplied in a matching box. Now I'm ready for the many hours of sorting, sifting and editing - a task "I had always meant to do"!
I'm trying to turn a negative into a positive :-)
A .pdf of the book is here if anyone's interested - https://blingshot.co.uk/BlingShotBook.pdf

alan christie's picture

It's humanity that is the virus. We have all but wrecked the planet in the name of greed. The best thing for the planet would be our total and utter extinction.

mark pain's picture

If you listen to the doctors, not the politicians, they say that as some stage we are ALL going to catch COVID 19 at some point. That's just how the virus works. All point to point and face to face business (and that obviously includes photography) is going to cease for months in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. People don't want to be photographed under the current conditions and their feelings are only going to strengthen. There is also nothing editorial to be photographed as every event and sporting fixture is going to be cancelled.

It's spread cannot be stopped, only possibly slowed down. The USA are way behind the curve on the number of tests it is conducting compared to Europe and Asia so the current status of how many people in the US already have the virus cannot be known. But it is already in the US and banning flights from everywhere won't change a thing. It will spread and it cannot be stopped. Photography just like most other business will cease very soon and will not be the same again for a very very long time.

This is what the doctors are saying who are the people to listen to, not the politicians.

Hannes Koenig's picture

Hi Guys - I am in Patagonia at the moment to shot and now I stuck because from today on ALL the parks are closed ... for me it makes definitely NO sense I am out there alone with my cameras and my tripods and even when I had Corona I don't meet nobody out there. So I have to decide to break up and go home to Germany - BUT very difficult to find a plane and if what's then ??? I am a freelancer as the most of my friends and I also had a job in Mexico and in California - everything is gone ....... I don't know how to handle this situation at the moment.
Stay healthy my friends out there - I think we have to deal with this crises for a long time. Hopefully not with the virus but with the recession. All the best.

André Chen's picture

I live in Portugal and I work as a dentist and my clinical work is currently on hold. The problem with the virus is not the fact that it might kill you. It simply because it spreads so fast that the hospital don’t have enough support equipment available in such a short amount of time to help all those who need it, and you end up having doctors getting the gruesome task off choosing who lives and dies(because you have to add the critical patients that suffer from this virus on top of the usual ones that end up in the hospital). In Europe we have the example of Italy, where doctors have openly said that they have made a rule that anybody above the age of 60 will not be put on ventilators, and have no more room for patients so they had to set up tents, like in war zones, to house patients. I’m not saying that you have to run to the supermarket and buy up everything, but you should take this threat seriously and understand that by limiting your social interactions you are buying time for science and research on the virus to progress. If not to protect yourself, do it to protect your family members of the off chance they might become a critical patient. I hope that this helps you understand a bit better the reality here in Europe and I’m certain that this is not going to blow over in just a few week here and everywhere else. The virus is here to stay it’s a question of how long we need before we have effective weapons to ward it off and how many are going to die before we get there, because just like the common flew it can and it will mutate. After all that I have said here please don’t think of me as an alarmist, I am just worried about everybody’s well-being. Thanks to everybody who took the time to read this post and I hope that it has helped you in anyway at all.

Gilmour Dickson's picture

Good post. Well thought out and lucid.

Michael Yearout's picture

Every ski area in Colorado shut down today, if you didn't already know that. Most are closed for a week and then they will re-evaluate. My guess: the ski season is over. The state is advising everyone over the age of 60 to only go out for necessities, i.e. food, perscriptions, etc. I'm afraid I fall into that catagory and I think I'll take their advice.. Our grocery store shelves are empty of toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, kleenex. It's is just crazy.

Sam Cooper's picture

I would still consider myself to be in the early stages on my business, in a small market where creative work (especially for marketing/advertising) isn't something that is fully understood (The commercial photographers around here all make the majority of their income from out of town jobs). The first year and half saw steady but SLOW financial growth. The result is living gig to gig. Occasionally I'll get some emergency savings, but its usually gone pretty quick because of the wide fluctuations I see in my income.

I had one big event cancel the day of and a music promotional session get delayed due to lack of income (these young musicians have it BAD). I had a photographer friend pass one of his shows to me because he's a part of the high risk group. Interestingly, that event paid more than the one that got cancelled. However, that was it. inquiries dropped off, the radar looks bleak. I had already wanted to get a stable day job for a while so I could have a better financial position and work on my portfolio. I had applied to a bunch before this all started, got busy and haven't had a chance to look since. I have no idea what that outlook is now.

I'm lucky to have an amazing girlfriend with a stable job (emergency vet) and we are both in our mid twenties. We will be okay. Its just an unusually large bump in the road.

Matt Ramirez's picture

Lost all the gigs I had lined up for the next two weeks and next month... and it isn't looking like paid work is on its way again anytime soon... Like most Americans, I was living under the "damn thats crazy..." mood until it hit our shores and now NYC is one of the epicenters in the states for this virus... Like you guys it struck as quick as lightning! All gigs canceled almost immediately with no time to plan! Thankfully my spouse is still working, but my fear of this certain recession is more and more overwhelming everyday... Somehow, and sadly I find solace in knowing we are all going through the same thing.

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