Photographer Raymundo Guerrero, owner and founder of Creative Precision Photography, reflects on how COVID-19 has damaged his business operations and artistic endeavors.
Guerrero explains that since mandatory stay at home orders were placed on the state of California in mid-March, his scheduled shoots have been cancelled, clientele has shrunk significantly, and his overall approach to photography has drastically changed due to social distancing restrictions. He gives us his thoughts on the situation and believes there is still positives that can come out of this pandemic despite all the losses his business has endured over the last month.
Q: How did you get into the photography business? What is your specialty?
A: My specialty is centered around portrait photography, entertainment, and event photography. When I started out, I worked on my craft for a few years before taking the leap to do it professionally. I started off doing small events then moved on to doing large events, working with entertainers, fashion models, artists etc.
Q: How long have you been in the business professionally?
A: For 4 years.
Q: How has that transition into full time professional photography been for you?
A: Fantastic! It’s a whole different ball game because you are being commissioned to do these jobs but also have the chance to implement your own style. It gives me the opportunity to show what I have to offer, as far as what I’ve practiced and worked on since I began doing photography. The best thing about it is being able to center my work around what I enjoy shooting. Business wise, it’s brought a lot of revenue for me, but the thing I’m most thankful for is how it has allowed me to meet a lot more people, expand my network of connections, and create more opportunity.
Q: Speaking of opportunity and connections, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your ability to network and expand your business?
A: I mean, it’s affected it drastically. There’s been a ton of changes to my lifestyle and the lifestyle of my clients. Communication is still doable over the phone but it’s not as effective as meeting them face to face or having those firsthand experiences and meetings with them. Human interaction has always been a big part of my operations and social distancing has killed that. I’m not allowed to do the things that I normally would because of these restrictions. I can’t just pick up and go to LA for a shoot or exchange info with people at an event so yeah, I’m feeling the hit.
Q: Have you felt the hit financially?
A: Yes, most definitely. A lot of the work that I had right before this pandemic happened got cancelled. Immediately canceled. People didn’t want to show up to their shoots, locations were closed, events were postponed, and now I have to wait and see when all of this passes to see what my next move will be. The frustrating part is that photography is considered non-essential so there is nothing we can do except count the days until this is all over.
Q: So, at this point, is acquiring more clientele completely off the table?
A: Not completely, but it’s a lot harder. I respect everyone’s opinions and reasons for being cautious. I’m not judging anyone for choosing not to do their shoots or choosing not to book shoots during this time, but there are some people who are still willing to do projects. With that being said, locations are limited and yeah, clientele has dropped drastically. It’s very hard.
Q: Are any of your peers, partners, or colleagues experiencing a similar decline in business as well due to COVID-19?
A: Most definitely. They’re feeling it. A few of my friends that work on the corporate side of the photography businesses were hit really hard. They were some of the first to be laid off from their companies, and a few people that are just starting out in the business have had to put everything on halt. I feel bad for them too because I’ve been there, and I know how crucial it is to get yourself out there in the early stages of building your career. How can they get themselves “out there” if they aren’t even allowed to be out there to begin with? But all we can do is adapt to this for now and be optimistic about it. This isn’t the end of the world. COVID-19 has suffocated the photography business, but not forever. We’ll be back.
Q: You mention being optimistic about this situation, what positives do you see coming out of this once this COVID-19 pandemic is over?
A: I think there are many awesome things that can come out of this. People are going to miss going out, taking pictures, interacting, traveling. Entertainers, artists, and models are going to have a lot of content that needs to be produced and sort of play “catch up” so I’m hoping this will help me get my workload back to where it once was. Clients will be excited to have their photos taken and photographers will be excited to do what they love again, so it’s a win-win scenario. Another positive I see is that I noticed that over the course of this quarantine, I was forced to become more creative and resourceful with what I have. Because I wasn’t able to travel or interact with many people, I was forced to approach my work differently and explore different techniques I was not fond of before. I’d imagine I’m not the only photographer to experience this.