Q&A: How have you kept busy during the coronavirus lockdown?

As the pandemic began sweeping through the United States in March, photographers were forced to pause sessions to prevent the virus’ spread. But that doesn’t mean anyone stopped working. In the first month of the new nationwide stay-at-home norm, Professional Photographer checked in with PPA members to see how they were coping and what they were doing to keep busy, continue learning, and remain relevant during this unprecedented crisis.

Kira Derryberry
© Courtesy Kira Derryberry
Kira Derryberry

Kira Derryberry, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, Tallahassee, Florida

Kira Derryberry used her blog to begin sharing weekly photography how-tos with clients who wanted to make fun photos of their kids at home while they flattened the curve. "Anything we can do to stay relevant and put content out there is important right now.”

Karen Kurta, Altamonte Springs, Florida

‘‘I’m taking the time to refresh my website, learn and improve SEO, work on some video projects, and find other ways to sell art online. Six months of back-burner projects in six weeks! I’m planning on hitting the ground running when this is all over.”

J.R. St. Jean, St. Petersburg, Florida

‘‘It’s a great time to be adding to new skills. I’m working on becoming more proficient at Adobe Premiere Pro and learning After Effects by watching videos on both the PPA website and YouTube. I’m learning more creative and artistic ways to use Photoshop. And I’m putting together new business information for local hotels and businesses so when they reopen I can be there at the forefront. It is a trying time. But learning new things ups our game and positions us for greatness when this is all over.”

Jim Chamberlain, M.Photog.MEI.Cr., API, Naples, Florida

‘‘As a travel and landscape photographer, I have been going over files from the last 20 years looking for hidden gems—images I might have passed over. It’s been fun reliving these past travels and adding new art pieces to my portfolio.”

Shana Sureck
© Courtesy Shana Sureck
Shana Sureck

Shana Sureck, Easthamptom, Massachusetts

‘‘I’ve moved my computer and hard drives home and am working on six albums and emailing a few clients who haven’t chosen their pictures. They have more time; I have more time. Let’s do it! Im editing my last job before everything got cancelled/postponed—a bar mitzvah—and listening to business podcasts and webinars as I work. My studio management system, Sprout Studio, is offering a couple of daily live learning opportunities that I’m loving. I’ve set a few goals for myself in this time: getting better with MagMod lighting and gels and learning Photoshop skills.”

Danny Izzo, CPP, Lafayette, Louisiana

‘‘There is a photojournalist in town working on two large print projects. I do his printing for him. He sends me the images, I print test prints, he comes in and approves or makes changes, I print another test, and then the final prints. Between the two projects, we have 75 to 100 or so prints. We work apart from each other, and neither of us is going out and having much contact with others. So far, so good. I’m also fixing some things around the studio. I have a wall that’s entirely old fence board, and some of the boards are off-color. We had a tree come down on our fence, and now I have fence board to replace the discolored ones.”

Heike Martin, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania

‘‘I’m a personal brand photographer, and all of my sessions are thankfully postponed until further notice and not cancelled. I’m using this time to write blog content, ramp up my marketing efforts to get folks to realize the importance of getting brand images done, tweak my website, and work through an SEO class. I’m also staying connected with my local networking groups and photography groups—from brainstorming together to just hanging out and being there for each other. I really hope to work on some personal projects for fun and to improve my skills.”

Stephanie Saujon, Denver, Colorado 

Stephanie Saujon is doing remote portrait sessions via FaceTime—directing her subjects on posing via video chat and using her DSLR to make photos of the screen. ‘‘It’s nice to be able to connect with clients and friends and create together despite distance and devastation from layoffs, lost work, or illness. It feels nice to put those fears aside and just create art together.”

Amanda Arnold is the associate editor of Professional Photographer.