Pandemics, Politics, and Photography

What an incredibly challenging year this has been for us all. We have seen our worlds turned upside down, where “normal” life abruptly changed. Depending on your life circumstance, you might be retired and feeling a bit trapped at home. Or you might be in a career that puts you out there with the public several days a week. Or you might have the added challenge of raising kids in the midst of all of this, and dealing with the you working from home and the kids doing “school” from home. Or this pandemic may have caused you to shut down your small business you worked so hard to build up.

Then add the intense political polarization that has hurt us all, pitting neighbor against neighbor, family member against family member. The pandemic is bad enough, but with this toxic mix, it has led to a crisis of isolation for many. Many people are suffering from a situational depression from all of this mess.

So what does this have to do with photography? (I’m glad you asked 😉 )

What I Changed In My Photography Classes – One thing I have done is acknowledge that this pandemic has financially impacted everyone differently, some with little impact and others pretty substantially harmed. So back in April 2020, I announced a wide range of new classes, and established a unique pricing model where YOU set the price for the class. I give a suggested price, but you can choose to pay a little more if you would like to help us out (because, yes, this has been really tough on my business also) OR you can pay a little less if you are financially strained also right now. I figure we’re all in this together. Let’s get through this together, helping each other out.

Coping With This All Through Photography – There is a very important connection with how we might all cope with these stresses of life, and using photography as a channel through which you can express yourself. Photography is really an expression of how you see the world around you. We only photograph what we see, and every person sees things differently.

Gratitude Project: One way you might use your photography is through practicing intentional gratitude on a daily basis. Look for those things in life for which you are grateful. That includes the big things and the small things and especially the things you might often take for granted. Make it into a project to photograph those things. You could do it just for your own personal project to create those images. Or you could then use some of them to make a photo collage to hang on your wall as a reminder of all that you are grateful for. Or you could post your photos on social media to tell the rest of the world what you are grateful for, and it might get them started doing their own gratitude project! Numerous studies have found that people are more happy if they practice a life of gratitude and express that gratitude to others.

Story Telling: Another photographic idea is to set out on a project to tell a story about the impact of this pandemic and how life has changed. Later on, after we get through all this (hopefully sooner rather than later) we’ll have photos to remember this time. And note the impact isn’t all bad. I have been going on daily walks (I call them our “sanity walks”) and in the process I have met neighbors even several streets away from our house and my circle of friends has increased. I have also seen more instances of parents out playing with their kids. Figure out a way to tell the story, YOUR story, of the great COVID-19 pandemic.

Give Yourself a Project to Expand Your Photography Skills: Choose some area of your photography you think could be improved. Maybe it’s how to operate your camera, or how to use Manual Exposure Mode, or learn more about your auto focus system in your camera. Or maybe you could set out on a project to expand your creativity and artistic expression. Or maybe decide to learn how to use Photoshop to do some of the photographic digital imaging “magic” you see other photographers doing. Choose a project. Grow your skills. Become a better photographer. Right in the middle of a pandemic, do it.

Connect with Others: A couple of years ago, we started something new at my photography studio in NW Austin. We called it “LifeInsights” and its purpose was really just an opportunity to connect with others and do various book discussions, but we quickly expanded to to discussions about various TED talks, and then I started inviting various wonderful guest speakers, and we went on group outings, got together at area restaurants, and held occasional pot luck dinners. Then the pandemic hit, and we were forced to shift over to doing our sessions over Zoom. It’s not the same as meeting in person, but it at least allows us to continue, and we have had some wonderful discussions over Zoom. If you’d like to know more about our little group, click here to learn more about LifeInsights. This offers another way to beat the isolation this pandemic has imposed on us all, and it is FREE (it’s always been free). 🙂

Classes: If you are interested in learning more about photography, make sure you check out my upcoming classes. If you have photographic questions, you are more than welcome to email me any time. I’m happy to answer your questions via email, no charge for that.

We’ll get through this together, my friends.

Kevin Gourley





Kevin's book "30 Practical Tips for Better Photographs" is available in print and on Kindle devices!
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