BEING A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER IN EASTBOURNE in 2020

Phil on a ropeswing black and white

AVANT PHOTOGRAPHIC – REVIEW OF 2020

2020 was a weird year to be a professional photographer in Eastbourne.  Here’s some of the photography for business questions I got last year:

How did you feel at the start of 2020?

I started 2020 with an overwhelming sense of positivity and excitement over what was going to be a great year to be a professional photographer in Eastbourne. I had Event photography work booked in places such as International Broadcast Conference in Amsterdam, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and Digital Enterprise Show in Madrid.

What happened? Why were there so many event cancellations? 

As well as being a professional photographer in Eastbourne I work a lot of international Events worldwide. The events industry was decimated by the end of March. Major sponsors like Google and Facebook withdrew from the events which led to further withdrawals. There was no choice but to cancel the events. I watched as 50% of my projected years earnings evaporated. 

That must have been a worrying moment? 

It gave me a fear I could feel to the pit of my stomach and my pants were nervous. I still had other contracted work and within my network working as a professional photographer in Eastbourne, there were businesses that would rely on fresh visuals and needed them now.
It was obvious this was going to be a hard year – and only by working harder was I going to survive, especially as my professional photographer work was limited to Eastbourne.

How did you adapt to the changes the pandemic brought?

Without my clients surviving the pandemic, my professional photographer business in Eastbourne wouldn’t either. It was imperative I found ways to help my clients to solve their problems and find solutions to the difficulties they had in maintaining their marketing.

I surprised myself – I found reserves of energy I didn’t know I had and a resilience to the temptation of enjoying the Spring and sitting on the beach – March and April saw me locked down, sat at my laptop and rebuilding both my websites. I was on the phone and firing off emails to my clients, finding out how they were shifting, what they were doing differently and rapidly creating ways in which I could help them.

So you were still shooting?

Yes – with a great deal of restriction – and a huge amount of preparation. I produced RAMS (Risk And Method Statements) which outlined risks and ways to negate and minimise them on photoshoots. Ensuring the safety of my clients and their customers is my primary concern whilst working in the pandemic.

What advice do you have for businesses?

The businesses that are going to be around on the other side of the pandemic will be the ones that maintain their marketing and remain visible online with great visual content and decent campaigns that ensure a quality online presence – telling positive stories about their services, products and staff.

Who has your photography helped this year?

I completed a project to create video and photography for the new Signaserv website in February. During lockdown I was able to provide guidance on how best to use the visual content Avant created and help with campaigns to promote Signaserv, using the footage and stills we had captured. 

Photography for Essential Services

Photoshoots industrial maintenance and manufacturing businesses were allowed to continue, within guidelines – and under stringent safety protocols. With an intense amount of preparation and armed with a portfolio of health and safety forms, risk assessments and covid secure work practices filled out, I was able to produce video and photography for AVTPump at their Warrington depot.

AVTPump work with large industrial pumps, ensuring melted chocolate still covers your favourite biscuits and gallons of milk still gets bottled and cooling liquid keeps essential machinery working at optimum performance – It was great to tell their story.

Product Photography – Ecommerce images by post!

Product photography for ecommerce sites have helped me maintain my business and continue to grow those businesses that I have created product photography for. I have created product photographs for pharmaceutical wholesaler GD Cooper – with them simply couriering products to me and then photographing them at my home studio.

What other innovations have you come up with?

Repurposing footage and stills for clients who have already had shoots to create new campaigns works brilliantly. There’s no need to arrange a new shoot , we already have loads of photos or video we have already made that we can turn into new, exciting content for use on websites and social media.

I spent ages in lockdown creating photography packages to suit all businesses – click the button below to see the PDF – you can even download it to show your boss.

What’s been the worst bit?

My contract with Birchwood group is on hold – I haven’t ridden a motorcycle or photographed one for ages. I’ve only photographed one car since August. I’m missing the people at Birchwood. The car industry is suffering too, with multiple challenges to face, not just Covid19.

I was eager to maintain the relationship with Birchwood as they have always valued my work and it has always been beneficial to their business, my photography has been fundamental in building their digital audience – so we have stayed in touch and hope to rejuvenate the digital marketing soon, with some great shoots lined up.

So, you’re busy, then?

Nowhere near as busy as I was, or was planning to be this year. I have heard some terribly sad stories from photographers I know. So far, I have managed to maintain my business, but it’s hard work. 

What do you do with your extra time?

I have a Hidden Places – Abandoned Spaces project ongoing – you can see it here:

Hidden Places – Abandoned Spaces – Photography Project

I want to document what happened in my hometown during the pandemic – As a photographer, I would regret it if I didn’t. Too often I plan to shoot things, then regret it when I haven’t, either due to procrastination, or laziness, or purely because I’m too busy. I couldn’t find a decent excuse not to do a project like this.

I’m still looking for people and places to be featured. If you would like to or can help get me into a hidden place, I’d love to hear from you.

Alex Polizzi needs some company – as does Rachel from The Dolphin, BBC presenter Emily Jeffrey, singing therapy practitioner Phoene Cave, the empty Arndale centre and cinema and lower depths of the Wish Tower.

I have completed some intensive training and honed my graphic design skills, working for several agencies to create marketing materials as well as doing some consultancy work for social media marketing. Working in marketing for 15 years with loads of businesses means I have a wealth of skills and experience that can help companies in these challenging times.

You haven’t promoted your Etsy page yet, Phil?

Oh yeah! Silly me! I have an Etsy page – where you can buy limited edition photographic art prints for your home – photos I have taken recently, and some of my favourite Burlesque images, too. 

Anything else? What do we have to look forward to in 2021?

I am looking to launch a new arm of the business soon, too – I spend much more time now, taking photographs like I used to, just for me, for the pleasure of creating art – something beautiful to exercise my creativity. These photos will be featured in a new online gallery for corporate customers to buy large prints for their business premises. 

Follow to find out first – and stay informed on developments at Avant. 

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    I wish you all the best for 2021 – Lets hope we all emerge from this pandemic healthy, as better people and that the World is a better place, too.

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