Graduations have been cancelled. Classrooms have gone virtual. There’s no denying that COVID-19 has put a giant wrench in our 2020 plans.
The impact for visual artists has been manifold. Event cancellations and gallery closures have virtually eliminated many people’s primary sources of income. Although many of these activities have resumed in some capacity, ongoing case spikes nationwide indicate we may be navigating this new normal for the foreseeable future.
One thing we have learned through this challenging time is that we have never been more digitally equipped to weather a pandemic remotely. Here are several virtual resources to help you improve your photography skills, grow your network and earn a steady income through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
- Professional Photographers of America. Professional Photographers of America (PPA), the world’s largest nonprofit photography association, essentially serves as a one-stop-shop for professional photographers. Run by and for photographers, PPA offers a number of educational resources, benefits and business development tools to help you advance your skills and grow your network. Memberships are reasonably priced—$79 a year for students and approximately $28 a month for a full membership, with the option to cancel anytime.
- Coursera. Coursera offers thousands of courses, certification programs and even online degrees from renowned universities and organizations around the world. Hundreds of courses are free and can be accessed on demand from your preferred device. A quick search for “photography” on the site yields courses from Northwestern University, The Museum of Modern Art, the Royal Holloway, University of London and many more.
- Digital Photography School. Digital Photography School (DPS) describes itself as “one of the most popular and longest running blogs on the web about photography.” In fact, the site serves as an expansive content community offering a wealth of photography tips, techniques and tutorials, including courses, eBooks and a variety of other resources to help you take your love for photography to the next level.
- Meetup.com. Like the rest of the world, networking has gone virtual, and Meetup is evolving with the times. Search virtual meetups, webinars and even socially distanced outings in your area to help you stay connected to the photography community while staying (at least six feet) apart.
- Social media. Whether you’ve already built a robust social network or are working on that as we speak, social media can be a goldmine for high-value leads, connections and general business advice. As photographers, we often think of Instagram as having the most value for our medium, but in fact, Twitter, Facebook and especially LinkedIn can serve as valuable tools for growing your network. Spend some time analyzing your audience and identifying the kinds of people with whom you’d like to engage more, and don’t be afraid to do just that (but do try to keep sheer self-promotion to a minimum).
- Books. We’re talking eBooks as well as the good old-fashioned hard copy kind. Expert Photography has compiled a list of 22 photography eBooks that you can access for free (you may just have to exchange your email address and remember to unsubscribe should things get out of hand). And while eBooks can undoubtedly offer some great practical tips, there’s no time like the present to revisit the simple pleasure of thumbing through the real thing. Check out these print photography book recommendations, also from Expert Photography, to start building your summer/fall reading list.
- Your Art Gallery. Your Art Gallery is an online resource for photographers of all skill levels to exhibit their work for sale, without the hassle of having to handle the production, shipping or fulfillment. This has proven to be a viable alternative for photographers navigating the age of social distancing, which has rendered in-person galleries closed or open at minimum capacity. Visit www.yourartgallery.com to learn more and start selling your work today.