• Martin Kristiansen

AC BC Photography

After Covid and Before Covid is what I am alluding to of course. Are we in the midst of change so fundamental that the terms before and after Covid will be relevant? Truth is we don't know. The world has had plagues and pandemics before, many of them more deadly than what we are currently facing. What makes this different is never before has the world economy been so interconnected and fragile and never before have we been so confident and arrogant about humanities ability to overcome the challenges that nature throws at us.

Isando Power Station
The view from my back yard looking east at the Isando power station

Turns out we are not able to solve everything with technology. The common cold is a corona virus and we have never found a cure for that. Now we are facing a new deadly corona virus and it is destroying our society. Currently our solution is to hide at home.

I think it is reasonable to assume that things are going to change but what will that look like?

How bad will the Covid 19 crisis be for an economy that wasn't great to start with? It's hard to imagine this event making it any better. Obviously some industries will be more affected than others. Hospitality and travel seems set to totally tank. Certainly there will be opportunities as well. Businesses will close and that's devastating for the people involved, but new businesses will grow and replace them. There will be opportunities.

Some industries will change. I imagine there will be a huge move to home working. Anyone that has actually tried to use a laptop on their lap quickly figures out a desk is a really good idea. There could be opportunities for office furniture manufacturers. I can think of a number of opportunities related to closeting at home and being closeted at home seems likely even in the medium term.

What about photographic opportunities and risks? Will we even need photography? I think we will but some opportunities will be lost. Obviously if your speciality is sport photography you will be worried with the total shut down of all sports. Event photography has to be in serious trouble. We will become accustomed to attending virtual events online and it will become difficult to lure us out of our homes. How about things like family portraits? With travel shut down will people be more likely to have professional family portraits done to send to family and friends? I think that is a possibility. Weddings are likely to become smaller more intimate affairs, thats not good news for wedding photographers.

What type of photography will survive? The type that is useful obviously.

One thing is for sure, some people are more innovative and entrepreneurial than others. These people are the drivers of our economy and they are not the type of people to just give up. They will find things to do and ways to market those things. I think that is where professional photographers will survive. If you are selling something online, be it a service or a product, you will be competing with someone else doing the same thing. Better photography is one way to differentiate yourself and begin building trust with your clients. A poorly lit image of a product on a dining room table with the cat in the background simply doesn't create a professional trusting experience for a potential client. The website becomes the store front or showroom and needs to reflect the quality and service levels of your business. That's where I hope to find my niche. I have been involved in product photography since 1996 when I began digitising massive image libraries for Pick 'n Pay, Makro, Trade Centre and others. That work should continue and even see growth.

Honestly it's all guess work at the moment.

Pigeons in flight
Pigeons seem delighted by the decreased human activity.

Two weeks into the shutdown and I am not confident it will end next week. If it does it won't be back to business as usual, there will at least be social distancing in place. And after that? Our society has been wounded and there will be scars, tender places. We will need to be careful, clever.

One thing is for sure, I am not ready to pack it in. Every morning I get up and take photos of my world. It is much more limited than it was but it is still my world and I am still inspired by it.


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