Here’s What Photographers Can Do During the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown

The COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown has changed life dramatically for photographers. Here are a few things that you can to stay productive and weather the financial storm. Let’s face it, when you’re busy there are a LOT of things you say you need to do if only you had time. Well…now you got time and here are productive ways to spend it.

1. Apply for a Small Business Disaster Loan

If you’re a portrait photographer changes are pretty good that your business has fallen off to zero. If you’re a US-based photographer and your business is located in one of the states the SBA recognizes as being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic you can get details SBA Disaster Loans beginning tomorrow. Be aware that some banks may require time to set up the program if they had not previously participated in SBA Loan program so consult your bank.

There are rumors swirling around that this is a “gift” and the loans will be forgiven. As I understand it – any loan forgiveness is dependent on retaining your employees for the next two months. If you plan to use the cash to pay rent or utilities consider it a loan – not a gift. More details can be found at

2. Apply for Facebook Grants for Business

Facebook is offering $100 Million in grants to 30,000 small businesses across the globe – $40 million in the U.S. alone – for companies with 2-50 employees – with fewer strings than SBA Disaster Loans. Apply at

3. Apply for Unemployment

Normally freelancers are not covered by unemployment – but an unprecedented move, the stimulus bill expands unemployment protections to gig workers, freelancers and self-employed individuals, who typically don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Bear in mind that it will be harder to calculate your benefits as a freelancer since you don’t have a W-2 and your income that typically varies dramatically from week to week. Expect this process to take a lot of time. But you’ve got it…
Read more about the relief measures in this article from Forbes

4. Back up your Archives

My archives stored on redundant hard drive arrays. I keep one set in my studio and the other set off premise. Since I travel a lot, or rather I used to travel a lot, and hope to one day in the future. This week I burned an additional backup of my digital archives onto LaCie 5TB USB 3.1 Type-C Mobile Drives ($150 from B&H Photo | Amazon).

These drives are also available in 1TB, 2TB & 4TB, but I went with 5TB because based on the amount I shoot, I can get two years archives onto each 5TB drive. The 5Tb drives are only 20 bucks more than the 4TB and I’d rather not fill a drive to the brim.

5. Update your Cloud

I use PhotoShelter to store my online photo archives. New shoots are uploaded to secure password protected galleries that my clients can download. Once the images are published I can change the visibility so they’re searchable using the embedded metadata yet download privileges remain password protected.

An online archive is a life-saver since I can quickly send a password protected download link – even when I’m on the road. I can also put together a custom gallery of images for speaking appearances or interviews from my archives without having to re-upload those images every time.

Because there are a lot of shoots I don’t have online, this is the perfect time to upload those shoots. I’ve been doing that in the background while continuing to work on my laptop.

PhotoShelter has an extremely easy-to-use interface and that makes it very easy to set up your account. Get a 14-day FREE trial and Save $15 using this link

6. Update your Website

It’s easy to fall behind updating your website when you’re busy shooting. Get some new work posted. It’s a great use of your down time.

7. Scan or Digitize your Film Archives

If you’ve got file cabinets filled to the brim with your archives from the film days, this is an excellent time to get scanning. If you don’t own a film scanner you might want to consider digitizing your film images using a high resolution digital camera with a macro lens. Sony a7R IV + FE 90 F2.8 Macro G OSS is an ideal combination for this. If you’ve got medimm and large format chromes and negatives to copy – check out a product called the Film Toaster which makes set-up a breeze and holds your negative or transparencies in perfect alignment with your digital sensor.

8. Learn a New Skill

If you’ve always wanted to learn video editing or brush up on you retouching skills, there’s no time like the present. The great news is there are tons of online tutorials and courses that help you out from a proper social distance of the interweb.

9. File Your Taxes

While Tax Day USA has been pushed back to July 15th, 2020 you won’t want to wait that long if you’re due a refund. Get it done now and you don’t have it hanging over your head when it’s time to get back to work.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions. Stay home and stay safe. We’ll get through this.


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2 thoughts on “Here’s What Photographers Can Do During the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown”

  1. David A Greenberg

    All excellent suggestions. Thank you, Brian.!

    Another skill to develop or hone; backyard macro. Micro landscapes abound.

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