March 11th, 2020 was a day of global significance as the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. March 15th, 2020 was also a significant day… for me. It was my last pre-pandemic day of shooting on the streets of Vancouver. Like many of my photography colleagues – both professional and hobbyists alike – we had to learn to approach our photography differently in a new post-pandemic world. Many photographic industries came to a complete halt or became heavily restrictive, such as travel and wedding photography, and in-person workshops. In addition, in many cities street photography was next to impossible as curfews, social distancing rules, and the lack of people turned cities into ghost towns. As a street and travel photographer, gear reviewer, writer and content creator, how would I adapt my photography during the lockdown?
Initially, I decided to use the lockdown time to catch up on older projects. I take tons of photos but don’t always have time to edit them all. I also start many reviews, articles and videos, but often don’t finish them. I thought I would spend the next few months revisiting older projects and start pumping out an insane amount of content while in lockdown. The truth was, none of that happened, at least not initially. For the first few months, it felt like work just getting dressed and going into the studio to get started with anything. In hindsight, I think I was both stressed and depressed, which induced a creative block that took months to work through. I uploaded a short Youtube vlog explaining the things I was experiencing during the first few months of the pandemic.
Looking back, I had a few things that helped me get through this creative block. First, I had two articles a month that I had to upload for FujiLove, which forced me to keep going. I had to take new photos, review new gear, or go into my back catalogue of images and come up with an article idea to talk about every two weeks. This obligation demanded me to be creative on a regular basis. Just before lockdown, Fujifilm Canada shipped me the GFX 50S and the new GF 45-100mm f/4 R LM OIS WR and let me keep them for a few months as they shut down their warehouse. I decided to use this opportunity to start my Social Distancing Street Photography From Inside My Car project. I also had other manufacturers sending me lenses, cameras, lights, and other photo and video-related gear throughout the pandemic to keep me busy and out of trouble.
I was also privileged to have Fujilove as a platform to share and incorporate my pandemic experiences as article topics, such as The Post-Pandemic Future of Street Photography and My Mundane But Effective Routine During the Pandemic. Since I wasn’t traveling much, I spent more time taking pictures at night, as well as taking photos around my house and studio. Instead of flying off to Hong Kong, Japan or the United States, I spent more time around my own neighbourhood photographing mundane things. It was a good exercise in trying to keep a solid photographic routine during the pandemic. Even when I didn’t feel like taking pictures, the routine forced me to get outside with a camera and walk around a few times a week. Some of my favourite photos during the pandemic were captured in the middle of the night when I was miserable and didn’t feel very inspired or creative. 19th-century novelist Gustave Flaubert famously stated: “Be regular and orderly in your life…so that you may be violent and original in your work”. I found this to be true for me during the lockdown. Routine and regularity helped produce more opportunities for creativity.
Today is March 14th 2021. As I type this article for FujiLove in my basement studio, I’m also looking back at my work during the lockdown. As I peruse through all the images, videos and articles I’ve published on my various social media platforms, I can recall how I felt during those times. Boredom, exhaustion, numbness, sadness, curiosity, excitement and so many other thoughts and emotions. It’s been a tough year for many of us, and it’s been tough being creative. Routine in my photography and writing has helped with maintaining my sanity and creativity. I don’t enjoy photography the same as I did pre-pandemic, but I’m comforted knowing I have photography as a creative outlet.
I would love to hear about your pandemic experience. Please share your stories down below in the comments. How did you ‘survive’ during the pandemic, and how are you currently coping under these creative constraints? Are there any aspects of your creative life that has thrived during this lockdown? I look forward to your comments and I soon look forward to life after Covid-19. I know we will all be returning to a ‘new’ normal in the near future and I’m okay with that. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!