How Pro Photographers Are Staying Creative During Lockdown

How Pro Photographers Are Staying Creative During Lockdown

This is undoubtedly a crazy time for photographers. There's no work, and we can't stretch our creative muscles as often as we're used to. How are the pros coping? Many pro photographers are using their photography skills to create something they'd never normally have time to do, and the results are remarkable. 

Wedding Photography 

What do wedding photographers do when all weddings are postponed, leaving nothing to photograph? For wedding photographer Anna Pumer, the answer was initially to enjoy a few weeks of downtime, but she then found the need to create something was too great to ignore. 

Suddenly, I had nowhere to go. That energy had nowhere to be released. The Troll wedding gave me not only an excuse to take photos, but also to hark back to my school days when I made mini versions of things, which I loved doing, and I never would have done if I hadn't been confined to home.

Anna decided to create a wedding with toy Trolls: 

I figured it would be a fun way to keep busy and creative and give me some new content to put out there that's not my cats. I don't have kids, so no toys lying around. I did, however, have some Troll dolls from a 90s-themed party I went to last summer, and it's 100% on brand for me — colorful, silly, and I even have Troll hair myself!

I asked Anna if the project was part of a marketing effort to remain connected with her clients:

Absolutely. My main goal right now is to get bookings for 2021 and 2022, so I want to keep my brand front and center with my followers. It's been fab; the comments I've had range from 'I'm so glad you're my photographer' to 'this shoot was branding on point.' I included my branding colors in the shoot setup and did a rain photo, as a lot of my couples book me for those. I'm all about being on brand with everything I do!

Anna is glad to have a second income stream, which is also keeping her busy. She provides website reviews for photographers:

I've currently got 20 reviews in the queue to do; loads of photographers are actively working on their websites and their businesses during this time.

Newborn Photography 

Ute-Christin Cowan, of Milford, Connecticut, took to swaddling takeaway food when she could no longer photograph newborns. 

 

 

I asked her what inspired the project:

We went to grab takeout from our favorite restaurant two weeks ago, and everyone there was so sad and worried about the future of their restaurant. The number of people coming to the restaurant had significantly dropped and they asked us to please spread the word that they are still in business. I thought about what I could do to help to get some attention to these local restaurants — how I could support them and also do what I like best, taking pictures! 

She asked 13 local restaurants and cafes (open for takeaway during lockdown) for their signature dish, took them back to the studio, and set about treating them like newborns. 

I knew I wanted the hotdog swaddled up to give pigs in a blanket a new meaning, as well as a bun in the oven. The chips had to go in a bowl because that is how you typically eat them. The grilled cheese gave me the hardest time, but then I was like: 'the grilled cheese is already awesome on its own, so why mess with that. So I just added a crown.'

Ute-Christin tells me that taking photographs helped to lift her spirits: 

This project helped me feel motivated, useful, and creative. It was so nice to spend a day in the studio again! I was hoping that the images would create some joy and get people excited about trying out these local places. It's been such a fun project, and of course, the best part was eating all those things after I took their picture.

Sports Videography

Philipp Klein Herrero is a 28-year-old engineer and economist and part-time photographer (what a combo!) with a passion for skiing. Just when he was about to go on a ski trip to France, lockdown began in his hometown of Barcelona. With a canceled ski trip and cabin fever starting to kick in, Philipp decided to create a fun project to amuse his friends and family:

I really wanted to make my family and friends forget the current health situation and cheer up a little. I was sick of sad news and wanted to change that by giving smiles.

He waited for a day with good light and taped a GoPro Hero7 Black to the ceiling. After six hours of shooting and four hours of editing, his stop motion animation was ready: 

What he hadn't expected was for his video to go viral: 600,000 views on YouTube to date and from 1,500 Instagram followers when he posted this video to now over 19,000.

I am missing taking photographs, especially documenting my adventures and my friends. The project definitely scratched a creative itch. The idea just jumped into my mind and I remember not being able to sleep just thinking of it. I really felt the “need to create” what I was envisioning in my mind. During the shoot, I worked non-stop, dressed in ski gear, trying not to die from heat shock. I kept going because I really couldn’t stop. Once I had finished and edited it, seeing that the finished movie was so close to what I had imagined put a big grin on my face.

Travel Photography

Given we can barely leave the house, how do travel photographers keep themselves occupied? By creating miniature lands at home, of course! 

Erin Sullivan set up elaborate scenes with miniature figures: 

I asked Erin what had inspired the project: 

I was looking for a way to stay creative during a time when we need to stay home and to also stay connected to my love for travel and the outdoors. Since I was a kid, I have imagined tiny worlds in simple household objects, so I decided now was a great time to create this as a photo series.

Intrigued about the process of creating these tiny lands? Me too! Describing her creative process, Erin told me: 

When I am shooting around the world in beautiful or interesting places, I'm first observing what I am looking at and trying to learn as much as I can about it before I photograph it. That process has been similar with this project. Typically, I will first get an idea for a scene and sketch it in my notebook, thinking through what materials I could use to create it. Then, when I am ready, I will gather those materials and set up the first shot. From there, it is a process with moving the scene and camera around and learning more about what creates different effects with texture, lighting, and color. Though there are certainly similarities with travel photography, I am also learning a lot, since this is outside of what my normal work looks like. 

Here's a behind the scenes photograph of Erin creating the cavern shot above:

I love the idea of a thrilling adventure at home and can't help feeling just a bit envious of these figures, exploring broccoli forests and pancake canyons:

Final Thoughts 

I hope you've found this round-up of photography at home inspiring. It's so hard not to have our usual creative outlets. Like many photographers, I'm absolutely itching to get back out and start photographing again. What about you: have you started any photography projects at home? Or are you soaking up the time to sit back and relax for once?

Images used with permission of Anna Pumer, Ute-Christin Cowan, Philipp Klein Herrero, and Erin Sullivan.

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15 Comments

Matthew Lacy's picture

I've been messing with legos myself.

Louise Downham's picture

Love this - I'd really like to go on an expedition with that little chap! Or indeed, anywhere..

Matthew Lacy's picture

Thank you! I did a whole series on him. There is a group post with most of the pictures if you're interested.

Peter Molick's picture

Brilliant projects! I started a YouTube channel myself sharing some tips and tricks centered around post-processing and architectural photography. www.youtube.com/c/petermolickphotography

Delixir Sorbano's picture

These are such awesome stuck-at-home projects. Great stuff.

Louise Downham's picture

They're fab, aren't they - glad you enjoyed them!

Catherine Bowlene's picture

I love these works and it is good that people stay creative and have energy to do things but it is also okay to stay away from this business for some time while in lockdown. I mean, we are already stressed enough with the whole corona situation, so it could be okay to let yourself rest for a while. I'm just one of those people who always want to achieve more and more and then I feel tired for weeks. At first I was angry with me for being lay and unproductive but now I calmed down and just watch photoshop video guides and photoworks tutorials to collect my knowledge for the future.
Big thumbs up for these creative guys, wish I could be one of them!

Louise Downham's picture

Totally agree, Catherine. And actually I'm finally adjusting myself to taking it easier - I've had one month of busying myself like a crazy thing but I'm finally getting into the slower pace of life now..

Catherine Bowlene's picture

It's good. The rest can be productive just because it's your time to recover a little bit.

Louise Downham's picture

I agree - taking some time out is so rare, and something to savour!

Anna Pumer's picture

Thanks so much for sharing my Troll photos! It took me a good few weeks of moping before I got off my ass and did something other than watch Brooklyn Nine Nine... It's so easy to look at social media and think everyone else is doing loads with this time, but even getting out of bed is worth celebrating in these stressful times. Well done to everyone who is getting through the days, whether they're doing work, being creative or just putting clean pants on. I hope my silly Troll photos make people smile :)

Louise Downham's picture

Well said! I got dressed today, what a triumph ;)

Dave McDermott's picture

Nice use of Broccoli. :) I tried a bit of macro. I don't have a macro lens so i just turned the kit lens around.

Ute-Christin Cowan's picture

Thank you so much for including me in this awesome article! So many fun projects!!! Great job everyone! <3