Coronavirus: How you can help the photography community and beyond

As freelancers, galleries, festivals, and publishers begin to feel the effects of worldwide closures and cancellations, here are some suggestions of what we can do to help

The physical, economic, and social consequences of the spread of coronavirus, (COVID-19), have been felt by individuals and organisations worldwide. In the last week, Italy has gone into lockdown, with Spain and France recently announcing they will be following suit, and governments around the world have introduced travel restrictions, cancelled major events, and announced the closure of museums, public spaces, and schools.

The pandemic has already affected many people’s livelihoods — including freelance artists and creatives — and it is important to ensure that we are all prepared. Here, we share resources and ideas of how to support the photography community, and what the community can do to help others too.

Resources for the freelance community

Many outlets have been sharing guides for those who are self-employed. This list is compiled for freelance artists, and those interested in supporting the independent artist community in the UK and US. It includes links to legal advice, funding opportunities, and health guidelines. The authors of the list will be live-streaming a panel conversation on 16 March at 8 pm EST, to provide further resources for the freelance community.

This article by Popular Photography magazine offers useful tips for freelancers, including delaying cancelled contracts for the 2020 tax year, applying for grants, and downsizing on your gear. Here you can find a list of resources for job listings, advice, and support groups.

How you can help the community financially

Exhibitions, festivals, and book fairs may be cancelled, but we can still contribute to both individuals and organisations through buying work. If you are in a financial position to do so, you can support photographers and publishers by purchasing books and prints from their websites. Even though many festivals have been cancelled, and museums around the world remain closed, we can still help these institutions by buying tickets to their events to use when they reopen.

How photographers can help the wider community

The most vulnerable people in our society — the elderly and people experiencing homelessness or poverty — will be hit the hardest by this pandemic. If you are in a position to do so, we urge you to donate where you can, including to homelessness and healthcare organisations.

There are ways in which photographers can use their skills to fundraise. Jack Latham has been running online tutorials for £10 donations, using this money to buy food and utensils for local food banks. Similarly, Italian duo Caimi & Piccini have offered to run editing workshops in return for donations to Italy’s national healthcare service, and personal branding consultant Mariateresa Salvati is offering consultancy sessions for Italian creatives, in return for a €30 donation to a chosen charity.

There are many creative ways in which we can assist our wider community, which can be shared and discussed in the support groups listed in this document, or in our community Facebook group.

Stay positive and support one another

The next few months will be particularly trying for people all over the world, for many different reasons. Photographer Stefen Chow has been quarantined with his family in Beijing for two weeks now and emphasises the importance of community and support. “It has been quiet among photographers and creatives here in Beijing. The groups I share with other photographers have generally agreed that all income has come to an absolute halt,” he says. “Some influencers have taken this chance to share funny anecdotes about the virus. Everyone should try to keep each other positive during this difficult period.”

If you have been affected by coronavirus, please share your experience in our community Facebook group to join the discussion. If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, (COVID-19), you can access NHS advice here and CDC advice here.