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September 20, 2019

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Creativity in a Crisis

I think it goes without saying: the creative industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is not unique, nearly all sectors are feeling the wave of turbulence and uncertainty, but almost every

creative I speak to has the same story: work disappeared immediately; there is nothing on the horizon;

and a huge number are falling through the cracks of government support.

 

However, sometimes chaos can be the perfect incubator for creativity and innovation. Journalists have

been quick to cite that some of the major companies right now were born following the 2008 global

financial crisis, including WhatsApp, Groupon, Uber and Slack.

 

So, I want to shout about five creatives that are forging their own paths through this uncertain period;

five photographers who are navigating the COVID crisis, both financially and creatively.

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From shifting the focus to syndication and shooting remotely, to capturing the stories of how businesses

are adapting for survival, these are their stories of creativity in a crisis…

 

 

 

SYNDICATION

 

When COVID-19 struck, commercial photographer Tom Hull turned the lens inwards and began to

document the changing life of his own young family.

 

He describes this body of work as "a day-to-day document of a modern family working, schooling and

surviving from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Everything is completely natural and

unstaged...in essence, it's the most authentic and honest portrayal of our new way of family life."

 

By making this prolific series available for commercial license, he is not only using his craft to help him

process the situation, he is creating the opportunity for additional revenue streams in an otherwise arid

landscape.

 

 

 

Similarly, sports fashion and active lifestyle photographer Claire Pepper, saw the majority of her jobs

postpone and then cancel from the beginning of March. As someone whose work is almost entirely

collaborative, lockdown and the prospect of extended social distancing was a daunting prospect.

However, Claire's superpower is that she is constantly shooting. For a decade she has been reaching out

to athletes and lifestyle models to test ideas and push herself creatively through her personal projects.

And this meant she had an enormous archive of incredible sports lifestyle material which she was able

to open up for commercial and editorial license as soon as the effects of COVID-19 became clear.

 

 

REMOTE SHOOTS

 

Children's fashion and lifestyle photographer, Gemma Mount, was booked to shoot for the gorgeous

independent children's wear brand, The Pigeon And The Wolf, in March. A location house was scouted,

models were booked - and then lockdown arrived.

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So instead Gemma shot a mix of lifestyle and product-only flat lays in her own home and home-studio,

with a little help from her daughter. The client observed and helped style remotely via FaceTime, and

Gemma sourced a range of natural props from their daily family walk in the Sussex countryside, proving

the show could go on!

 

 

 

In contrast, Emily Metcalfe , a portrait and events photographer based in London, started shooting

remotely for very different reasons.

 

Emily lives alone and soon started experiencing the loneliness of solo-isolation, so she began a portrait

series created via FaceTime. This concept is not unique, other photographers have been exploring video

as a medium for creating still imagery, but her series has exploded into a truly global project and in just a

few weeks, she has orchestrated remote shoots with women from Vancouver, Singapore, Lisbon, Miami

and LA, and all across the UK and Australia. ⠀⠀⠀⠀

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What started as a way to manage a truly-isolated lockdown and fulfil a longing for connection, turned

into an opportunity to keep her creativity alive and to share something beautiful with the wider

community.

 

 

 

DOCUMENTARY STORYTELLING

 

Dan Prince is a photographer, filmmaker and podcaster who's sole drive is to tell stories. Since the

COVID-19 crisis broke, Dan has been in conversation with small and micro-businesses across North East

England to understand not only how they have been affected, but how they have adapted to cope and

the impact on their direct communities.

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His evolving series, 'Coping in a Crisis', is not only a beautiful and relevant piece of documentary

creative, it feels incredibly important to record and share these stories.

 

 

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Dan has spoken to food growers and suppliers, a restaurateur and the chair of The Bay Foodbank, all of

whom have had to pivot drastically to survive. But, while it may sound rather bleak, there is surprising

optimism with resounding messages of strength and community, hope and positivity.

I spoke to Dan shortly before he started this project and raised the question of whether he should be

going outside at that time, but there was never a doubt in his mind. His passion for shining a light on

grassroots stories is infectious, and so he put stringent measures in place to ensure the safety of all

involved, including shooting at a distance. He details these measures at the end of each short film.

Five different photographers from five different genres, and five different responses to one global

pandemic.

 

Reports are mixed as to how long it will take for the UK’s creative industry to begin to see recovery,

and what the sector will look like after the storm has calmed. But in the meantime, we have to stay

positive even though it might feel like every twist and turn is against us. And I, for one, look forward

to seeing the innovation and creativity that will inevitably be brought to life during this period of

chaos.

 

 

Emma Alexander

https://www.motherbran.com/