This national COVID-19 emergency has taken a toll on a variety of small businesses, ours definitely being one of them. We went from a full schedule booked for this month and next to zero. Our business and our clients are businesses. A variety of businesses. From healthcare to industrial, inland marine, culinary, architectural, tourism, real estate, you name it. Having a variety of clients within such a specialized market of commercial marketing photography has always kept us feeling secure in having a productive income. If the oil and gas market slows, it only affects a percentage of our overall work. Same goes for any other sub-category, like real estate or weather-permitting assignments. However, only something so unimagined, so UNPRECEDENTED could bring a fall like this has.
To sum up my overall feelings this week regarding my beloved little business, read below:
A friend of Facebook asked the question: For all my small business friends. What are you doing? What's your pivot point? How are you innovating or reinventing your business to sustain sales?
I clicked on this to read comments, expecting to see others commenting with the same instant change as we've experienced. But I did not (which was also a wonderful relief.) I did choose to comment...
My response: Our calendar was completely wiped out by the end of last week. As a commercial and business photographer, all 30+ upcoming assignments over this month and next were cancelled/indefinitely postponed. I just hope they do reschedule...
Kindly trying to pick me back up, she responded: So what's your pivot? How can you add assignments?
I felt tears beginning to form...
Me: I don't have that answer. This week, I've been thrown into a full-time cook, maid, and homeschool teacher (private schools are keeping curriculum work due). I think I'm still in shock with the business. I plan to update our library of stock photography for sale online by going out and photographing more within Southwest Louisiana, WHEN I can find a rhythm to all of this. Our clients are businesses. Understandably, all called and emailed to cancel due to the chaos. It all involves working in proximity anyway... I am typically a very optimistic person who can find the creative way when no one else can... I'll get back to there... I just have not figured out the solution to this puzzle quite yet.
I think I'm just still in shock. My mind doesn't know how to process such a "fail" OVERNIGHT with a 15 year old business that's always been healthy. This feels like my oldest child (LJP) has been seriously injured in the blink of an eye. Yet I'm thrown into a stay at home mom role... something I have never been.
It's been 7 days since Governor Edwards announced school closures. As I know you all can relate, it's felt like that was two weeks ago. The shock is only now beginning to subside, with a further acceptance of all these changes.
Yesterday, my office manager, Lisa, and I met at our downtown studio one last time for awhile. We wrapped up any last small items left on our now empty pending list, shut down our powerhouse computers, and tucked in our office chairs. We split our backup hard drives we keep archived, each for us a set to bring to our homes for safekeeping, and I packed up my cameras and drone.
The phone went silent this week. Only emails coming in are more notices and updates from other businesses and our printing vendors. We placed a to-go order for a last lunch together from our favorite downtown restaurant, Villa Harlequin, and over lunch, practiced what we do best: verbal gratitude lists. Acknowledging what we are doing is the right thing to do. Expressing our thankfulness for our clients. Thankful we've kept the business healthy always without loans or high overhead. We acknowledged with gratitude our own health and well being, and (partially) joked about our personality types not going nuts staying home and doing nothing. We are pro-active, go getters, problem solvers who don't sit still very well!
I end all this with a project I'd like to challenge myself with. A list of what I'd like to post, blog, share stays running with me, but there always seems to not come a time to get to it... until now.
A silver lining perhaps.
I want to post and share with you all a variety of my favorite images, a few times a week. Many I know will come from what I haven't shared yet from my most recent cross country barge tracking assignment. Others may be just an assortment. I want to post so much more often than I do, but so much of our work is confidential (via the industries) and the rest I always feel I need to sit at the computer and share the story behind it in order to post. But I've got to let go of that little "OCD" rule of mine.
Check back, or subscribe to my little blog, ask questions, etc. Though I am working on distancing myself more from social media than what I have this week in order to be more mindful with my kids, I'll get back and respond- I promise!
Lastly, as we all spend more time right now checking for the latest numbers from the CDC, and using social media to connect more than ever before during this socially distant time, I'd ask you to please take a moment to head over to google or google maps and leave any of your favorite small businesses a review. This would greatly provide encouragement in these quiet days. Though this, too, shall pass, the reviews you would leave will STILL be there, helping us get back on our feet when searches for things like a headshot or industrial photographer begin again. I also don't know much about the new Facebook "recommendations" way of reviewing, but if you'd prefer that for our Facebook page, we would appreciate it tremendously as well!
Thanks for reading and happy social distancing. ;)