Hello everyone. While I'm sure the last thing most of us want to read at the moment is yet another article about COVID-19, I wanted to briefly take this in a different direction and speak from the perspective of a photographer. This morning my state governor announced that we will be closing all movie theaters, gyms, restaurants, and other public events. While I think this inevitably the right call to slow the spread of the virus, this is a big kick in the teeth for small businesses who have families to feed and bills to pay, but no stipends to support them during this uncertain amount of time.
The ugly truth is, some of these businesses may go under depending on how long this lockdown lasts. These could be some of your favorite restaurants, or even your neighborhood photographer down the street. But, there are a few things that you can do to help, and not all of them require money – some of them are almost effortless, and free.
From a photographer's standpoint, one thing I can say confidently is that photography sessions don't need to stop as long as they're outdoors. While it's very important that we restrict our contact with others in enclosed spaces and only go to the store when necessary, it's also extremely healthy for us to be using our time off to get some sunshine and fresh air. This is a great way to continue supporting your local photographer, just as if nothing's happened.
Most photographers today love doing on-location, outdoor shoots, so whether it's family photos, maternity, engagement, or baby's first birthday, the weather is warming up and it's never been a better time to go walk through a field and fly a kite! As long as neither you or your photographer are showing any signs of illness and you follow the no-contact rule, there's absolutely no reason photoshoots need to come to a halt. Not to mention, there are some things corona virus can't prevent; babies will be born and proposals will be made. Those memories should still be documented (safely), virus or not!
As far as the food industry, I can't help but feel terribly for restaurant owners at a time like this. Opening your own restaurant isn't easy even during a booming economy, and many of these businesses may suffer during this pandemic. Here's a few ways you can help.
First, it seems like most eateries are being left open for take out and delivery, so when you are able to place an order, every little bit will help them. Of course, take precautions if you go to pick up your food or when you receive a delivery. Always wipe down anything you needed to touch when interacting with others – your credit card and wallet, door handles, keys, phone, and wash your hands thoroughly before eating. You can also buy gift cards for yourself from restaurants that offer them. That way you'll be able to prepay for meals now and help keep them in business, so that you can go out to eat once it's safe to return.
And though it's not a requirement and some people are vehemently against it – if you can, when you can, please tip. Now more than ever, your wait staff, delivery workers, and all manner of small businesses are reliant on every dollar they can make.
This is also a fantastic time to work on your own business! If you're stuck at home and are feeling a little anxious about your lack of productivity (like me), this might be a great time to reflect on your professional image. Sometimes there are business needs that we mean to take care of, but never quite find the time due to our busy schedules. This could be getting new professional headshots taken, or hiring a designer to make you updated business cards. It's actually a perfect time to support web marketing agents and recruit them to freshen up your website and online presence – benefitting both them and you!
And finally, a fantastic way to help small businesses that doesn't cost a single penny – reviews. Now is the time to leave kind words for all those businesses that we meant to leave a review for months ago and forgot about. Because even if you currently don't have the need for a photographer, that review that you forgot to leave could help boost their rankings and traffic online, so that they appear more in search results and new clients may reach them.
Every restaurant, photographer, florist, salon, or caterer – they need us now more than ever! I urge anyone who's purchased from a small business lately to use this time in lockdown and take a moment to leave some kind words to support our local neighbors; leave five star reviews, follow their instagrams, like their Facebook pages. It will help them now, and also help them to a quicker recovery when the clouds have lifted.
Please stay safe, but don't panic; do not stockpile more than what you need. Lend to those who do. Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly. Call your elderly family to keep them company. Diligently wipe door knobs, steering wheels, light switches and phones after coming back from an errand. Try not to touch things that other people have touched, like door handles and shopping carts – if you must, clean your hands afterward. Do not touch your face, especially while out and about. Wash your hands at every opportunity. Play outside. Breathe fresh air. Be kind.
Morgan Ofsharick specializes in business headshots, proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut! –MEO Photography