What's it like working as a music photographer in the middle of a global pandemic?

What happens when you work as a music photographer and then a global pandemic comes along? Never fear, I’m here with as many tips as I can muster!

What's it like working as a music photographer in the middle of a global pandemic?

When our editor asked me to jot down a few words about what it’s like working as a music photographer right now, the only answer I came up with was ‘so not working?’ But the truth is there’s more to the story and I hope you’ll find this helpful if you too are a photographer who’s suddenly not working.

Not even a month ago I was celebrating with friends about booking in a long line of photography jobs for the coming months alongside a host of jobs on production crews at festivals. We even opened a bottle of wine I’d bought in Lanzarote last summer that I’d been saving for ‘a big career advancement’. It’s crazy how much the world can change in just a few weeks. 

Over these last two weeks every single one of those jobs has fallen through as tours are cancelled and venues are closing left right and centre. Naturally along with them my income is trickling down the drain right before my eyes. 

Unfortunately for the entire touring industry, we simply can’t work from home. Our jobs are in vans, tour buses, venue dressing rooms and that questionable hotel in the middle of nowhere. While many other people can work from home surrounded by their families, for many crew freelancers our families are the people we tour with and the loneliness of the weeks ahead will be as significant as lost income. 

From my own personal experience, many of the people working as photographers, lighting and sound engineers, tour managers and artists themselves all tend to fall into music because of how intrinsically important it is to them. Without being able to do the jobs they love and the NHS swamped with COVID-19 cases, an entire industry’s mental health is almost guaranteed to significantly worsen. 

BUT, it’s not all bad news! One of the most inspiring things in the midst of this crisis has been watching the whole music community pull together. Fans buying merch with refunded ticket money, artists live streaming shows for their fans and photographers buying each other’s prints. 

I know it’s definitely not going to be an easy few months, but I’m planning on using this time to diversify my own business and work on the backlog of admin work I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’m now living in my family home in the countryside so I’m also going to make a conscious effort to interact with nature again after being stuck in London all year. 

Not everyone is that lucky though, to those people my best advice would be to FaceTime your friends, get your two months free from Adobe to ease cash flow and maybe pick up that skill you’ve always wanted to try? 

I’ve linked some of the resources where you can find practical info below and if any fellow music worker is struggling feel free to hit the comment section where we can all help each other out. 

Official Government Page: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Free Two Months for Existing Adobe Customers: 

Go to ‘Your Plan’ and there’ll be an option to switch https://www.adobe.com/uk/

Arts Council England 

https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19

Musician’s Union: 

https://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/coronavirus

Music Managers Forum:

https://themmf.net/2020/03/10/coronavirus-updated-information/

Header Image Credit: Sophie McCarthy

Author

Sophie McCarthy

Sophie McCarthy Contributor

I'm a freelance photography working primarily within music and I write a lot of the music stuff on here, including the 'monthly music news' blogs so look out for those! I'm based in London and currently intern at an artist and tour management company with offices in Metropolis Studios and love writing for Voice whenever I can...

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