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

Lee Morris's picture

First of all, I've been planning for a big recession for 3 years now so that is probably making this feel worse than it really is. I personally am not that worried about the virus itself (although I am a little worried about my family members). But I am very worried that we are about to enter a serious recession. We had plans to travel to both Japan and California to film projects and both have been canceled. All of my friend's jobs have been canceled or postponed and I'm worried that even if we get the virus under control in the next couple of months, the damage to the economy may be done. I'm always shocked to hear how many of my friends in the industry have no savings at all and if income stops for a few weeks/months I worry it could start a collapse that will take years to recover from.

I never watch the news and I never worry about anything, but for some reason, I am glued to the news over this virus and it feels like it's getting worse. Obviously I hope I'm very very wrong and everything will just go back to normal in a few weeks.

I share the same sentiment that the damage may already be done even if the virus ends up being minor. The fear turned it into "something" far worse that it really is and caused the damage already.

David Love's picture

Things like this, hurricanes, etc are the only time any of us are glued to the news. The news knows fear equals ratings and ad revenue and they will push and promote it to be the end of the world as long as they make money.

Patrick Hall's picture

Man, I know a LOT of people who watch the news non stop. It's like you either fall into the camp of watching netflix/youtube, trashy reality tv, or the news.

James Parsons's picture

I usually agree with comments like fear = ratings. But to me, this feels vastly different. Having a country like China where they don't care about news rating (or human rights in many ways) having such a stern reaction suggests that this is more serious than just the western media kicking up a fuss to keep Lee Morris glued to the TV.

whats the reason to cancel trip to Japan? The most cleanest, most polite, everybody-care-about-their-cleannes country in the world. Even before corona we had hand sprays everywhere and everybody weared mask in spring... its going be fine. The spread wont be big. Our gov is a little bit bad at reacting to it though... it seems the Olympics wont be at all, or wont be a big event. And our economics will go down, with ad industry getting the biggest blow. Not the first time not the last, we deal with it.

But people over-react. I shot celebrities, some of whom are taking interview only through skype lol. but the shoots are fine, just all the staff is in masks.

Patrick Hall's picture

We had to make a decision a few weeks ago and more than anything many airlines were iffy if they would allow us to fly into Japan. I'm not sure what flights are doing now but at the time we weren't sure. I'm reading now that China and SK are actually thinking of closing down incoming flights now to prevent the virus from re entering the countries. They condemned the cancellation of flights coming to them 1 month ago but now they are flipping and want to protect themselves.

Yeah, I heard now they going to introduce a 30-day incubation period for people coming back from Japan in some countries. Seems like you made wise decision

Totally agreed with the decision to cancel all of the trips in coming weeks to Japan. I'm working in the aviation industry, and to be honest, many airlines as well as the gorvernments have restricted outbound & inbound travel to control the virus spread.That will be tough for the photography business till the end of this year, I guess. However, protecting ourselves is the first priority at the moment, and that's also a protection for our families and and friends.

Take care, we all love you and Lee.. ^^

Sooner than you think it may not be your choice anymore, here in spain we‘re not allowed to leave our homes, only to the nearest food supply or workplace if still active...

More and more of my jobs are getting cancelled. I shoot a lot of product and a lot of that comes from overseas, so no product is coming into Australia. My friends who shoot events are all of a sudden out of a lot of work and wife runs those events so she has a lot of events cancelled.

Post idea: Something we can all shoot and do whilst stuck inside. I'm already thinking of doing all those personal studio projects I've been putting off.

So based on the grim reality, and not to be morbid, now is the time to be pushing family portraits. The reason I say this is well i regret not having more pictures of my dad and I together. He passed a few years ago but this thing being a huge issue i see families loosing people and not having those lasting memories because there wasnt a picture taken when one could have been. Face masks dont mess with a photographers abilities to set, shoot, frame, process, but they do provide that sence of prevention being taken.
Might be an option for those willing to take the steps to change their style and just document life for those left living after its all over and we are free to live again

Brad MacMillan's picture

Recently I saw a post about a wedding and someone had taken the bride and groom to her grandfather's hospital bed as part of the wedding shoot. It was an absolutely amazing photo. Told a phenomenal story. A few weeks later they were shooting the funeral. Now that new family has that one, beautiful, inspiring photo to look back on. I agree.

Dave Curtis's picture

I'm a college sailing and rowing photographer. Both seasons were just canceled. I'm glad I have a side hustle gig that allows me to weather these kinds of storms. The reaction (IMO) is not extreme enough. There will be severe losses from this event, enough that we will not forget (or laugh about) this pandemic.

That said, make sure you have a backup plan, a side hustle or a safety net, cause folks, this ain't even close to being over.

Based in California, Orange County, CA. Production company w/ 1 Ton Grip Truck. We have 1 client on a retainer that should remain solid. We've had 3 projects postpone for at least a few weeks. Nothing "cancelled" yet..... No new jobs coming in right now because of COVID though. Actually thought we might gain work from clients needing PSAs or video support because of COVID but nothing at the moment.

Stephen Tierney's picture

Reading the available data and looking at how this virus has played out in China and in Italy this is a very real threat to our short to medium term income. I've had numerous jobs cancelled and nobody is currently booking new shoots here in Scotland.

It seems like the prospect of an imminent shut down of all but essential business is coming in order to combat the spread of this virus. Luckily I have enough savings to hopefully see this out but, for those less fortunate, I think the economic impact of this will be huge. I only hope that governments take steps to provide relief in the short to medium term until the economy can get back on it's feet.

Health always comes first, stay safe Lee.

Alex Cooke's picture

The photo industry is essentially shut down for the foreseeable future in Cleveland. Photographers in the local FB groups have mentioned cancellations extending into the next three months and seem very worried. I’m teaching remotely for the remaining two months of the academic year.

Brad MacMillan's picture

Why not push product photography or family photo shoots at the client's home, while providing yourself some safety? Teaching via video is also a great idea Alex.

Alex Cooke's picture

That's a great idea. It seems to be hitting wedding photographers particularly hard. I wish I could take credit for remote teaching, but they're requiring us to do it!

Scott Esterly's picture

My two cents are to absolutely not go into people's homes for any kind of photo shoot and to adhere to social distancing protocols.

Albert Harris's picture

I photograph on average around 150 marriage proposals a year in Orlando FL. I usually do weddings from time to time but I focus primarily on marriage proposals and my SEO has kept me in business. I used to get calls and emails every day from clients that want to propose at Disney and Universal. Those calls have dropped dramatically by 80%. 75% of my clients are domestic with 25% are international clients. With the travel ban, I have lost all my international clients (from Europe) that were supposed to come this month and into next month. To even add more strain, the theme parks have closed starting Monday which are a huge part of the business where many decide to propose. Luckily, by keeping an open line with our clients has saved us from being canceled fully but our international clients have been lost entirely because there's so much uncertainty. Luckily for us, we have a strong contract and customer service to prevent more chaos and instilled customer trust in our brand. We managed to reschedule their shoots with either an alternate location or a postponed date. Financially we are fine as we are prepared for a recession. While maintaining the business I work for the local county government as a photographer so if this goes on more than we thought then I'm prepared to rely on my government photography job as my main source of income. However, our photography community here is not so lucky as I am and are struggling as is. Many do not have an emergency plan and savings. The majority of them are in limbo and begging on social media for gigs. All I can do is hope that this will pass fast or there's not going to be much of a community here in Orlando as a whole we depend on tourism as our source of income.

Rich Barschdorf's picture

This is going to get much worse, it’s not gonna go away soon. More and more people are going to get sick, many will die. My main job is in the hotel industry, and soon there’s going to be lay-off, some have already happened, this is gonna be more than a recession, its going to be a complete shutdown.

Just listened to some of the scientist, and what they are saying, not good.
I really hope I’m wrong, but doubt it.

Patrick Hall's picture

This is a weird question, and I'm not advocating breaking quarantine suggestions to our readers, but, if you want to help local businesses while still being fiscally responsible, do you think hotels are at a point of taking negotiations for room nights? Like can you call a hotel and simply ask for a $99 a night room if they normally charge way more?

we are already experiencing something like that here in japan. tickets on airplanes suddenly became laughably cheap and some hotels will get cheaper in hopes at least to sustain any clients.

Ryan Burleson's picture

I frequent many hotels in the USA at one right now, I am already seeing much lower prices 25-30% less so far in the south right now.

Jeff Diffner's picture

My day job is in the concert industry which is completely shut down. At the moment, I have all of April booked for touring prep for a big Summer tour (that runs June through October) and that should hold me for a while. However, if the shutdown continues much past a month there's a good chance that the promoters and artists are going to have to cancel the upcoming shows as it takes too long and costs too much to get a major tour up and running and can't really be done last minute. All the experts I can find (CDC, WHO and such) say this is going to last months, not weeks. I am genuinely worried that the economic fallout will be more akin to the 1930's than to 2008.

Brad MacMillan's picture

What about after the fallout? Do you think that it will continue to bust? Or do you think that this will boom the economy?

Jeff Diffner's picture

Fallout as in this will take years to recover (a la the Great Depression). I don't think this will pass in a few weeks. All of the experts (not pundits) are subtly implying that this will go on for quite a while. I think they're just tying to soften the blow without causing even more panic.

Pedro Pulido's picture

i agree with you Jeff. i think that's exactly what's happening. and within 2 weeks when the US hits massive numbers of positive infectious cases, this is when the world will really start to feel it. Plus the country might be going for a full lockdown in just a few days, as there are no alternatives for such big numbers, and that is going to be crushing for the economy.

D Porter's picture

I'm quasi-comfortable things will turn around, but my clients have canceled (appropriately) my sessions for the month. I've got some business, however, in Richmond, Memphis and Arlington which may also be cancelled if a travel ban is engaged. Wasn't looking forward to a staycation.

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