BY OLYMPUS AMBASSADOR MARCUS CLACKSON
One of the few positives we can take from the current situation and the disruption to our normal working lives has been the extra time it has gifted us…so much time!
The majority of us are now indoors, staying safe, and coming to terms with the fact that this is likely to be for the long haul. Our old lives are placed on hold for now, so maybe it’s time to think about what we can do as a photographers to get through this and come out the other side in a stronger position.
I’ve listed a few suggestions below for ways to use this time, stay positive and improve your skills – things I’m doing which are helping me stay sane until things start to return to something approaching normality!
If you’re like me, you’ve probably been stressing about everything; what the future holds, what you are going to do now, and worrying if your aged mother will ever stop leaving her house to go shopping…it’s time for a break.
The first week or so of this lockdown, I was getting myself into a right ‘pickle’ and it took a few friends and colleagues to prompt me to get my camera out and start shooting again. It has really helped a lot! I use my camera to record whatever I see during lockdown or on my daily exercise walks. It’s been refreshing to photograph everything from landscapes & nature, to street photography, still life and portraits. I find it really important to stay creative, despite the limitations put upon us.
Space can give some real clarity, so use the opportunity to take stock of the situation. Stop watching the news 24/7! Hang out with your kids, if you are lucky enough to have an outside space – do some gardening, watch those box sets, make that elaborate recipe that you would never usually have time to (then photograph it!), pull out your camera and shoot what moves you. No pressure. Whatever you need to do.
Look at your archive
I have lots of hard drives containing thousands of images and right now is a really good time to revisit your images with a fresh pair of eyes. It always surprises me what I discover when I go back over work from a year or much longer ago and giving some distance from the edits can throw up some exciting long forgotten images.
Even in as little as a year, the editing software I use has moved on and now includes new filter packs, updated features and more, which can totally breathe new life into your past photoshoots.
Over the last couple of years, I have been using Smugmug (other good storage sites available!) which means my images are available in easily viewable libraries. I do this not so much for the extra storage space (although that is also very useful), but more importantly to create and view libraries of edits from shoots that I can view, share and use as inspiration for other projects. It’s a great way of getting all your stock up into a simple viewing platform and off the hard drives where they may sit unseen and effectively useless, for years.
Make use of your work!
There are many ways to do this, here are just a few ideas!
Enter competitions and awards
With thousands of competitions and awards to enter all over the world this can be a fantastic opportunity to showcase your work to a wider audience and gain critical acclaim worldwide. A degree of care and research needs to be exercised as this area can be a bit of a minefield; some competitions are basically little more than scams but there are some amazing highly respected institutions that can lead to unbelievable exposure for your work.
Some of the best have very reasonable entry fees and if you are looking to gain commissions from clients in your chosen field, entering competitions and awards with personal or commissioned projects can be a great way to get more work.
View it as a way to highlight your ideas and passion in photography…it’s like having another portfolio working for you via the awards advertising and social media machine.
Listed below are a few key awards that are high on my list throughout the year. Some have deadlines at the beginning of each year, but there are a few key ones that are still open for submissions. Maybe now is the time to get involved!
AOP Open Award (Deadline 20th April 2020)
AOP Student Awards (Deadline 28th April 2020)
BJP Portrait of Britain Award (Deadline 14th May 2020 – with 3 month joining fee for all their awards for £1)
IGPOTY Awards (Open for all entries now)
Photo Contest Insider (great for having most worldwide competitions deadlines and details emailed to you)
Update your website and work on other platforms
If you have a presence online, now is a really good time to revisit and rejuvenate your portfolios so you can really shine in future months. Although everything seems to have stopped now, the creative world is still working away (albeit behind home doors) and the search for new work and future commissions goes on. It might be your work that catches the eye!
Really strip it back in terms of what you show and only use work that truly represents your unique style and passion. If commissioners see work that you are passionate about they are more likely to see their product or brand shot in that style.
If you sell work through image libraries, again now is a good time to get your images onto these sites rather than sitting neglected on hard drives – it may even make you a bit of pocket money too! The glory days of high returns on image sales may have have passed, but if you have some interesting stock that has a niche value or tackles a subject in a different way, it can still have some worth. Think outside the box. Good sites which I still regularly sell images on are Alamy, Getty, iStockphoto and Shutterstock.
Keep connected and use social media
Social media is not for everyone, but it does play an important role in staying connected with the photography world and linking up with likeminded people who share your passion for photography.
Especially at the moment and in these coming months when we are more isolated than ever, I find it something of a lifeline to be able to share photography or video and have dialogues with friends, colleagues and the photographic community. I love seeing what different people around the world create and design in any media, not just photography.
It can be inspiring and engaging and often leads to new ideas and even friendships that you never thought possible. I use Instagram and Facebook regularly and they are both great for engaging with likeminded creators.
Hopefully you’ll find a few pieces of inspiration from what I’ve been doing to keep things moving creatively and I look forward to brighter times ahead. Stay safe!