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Shoot Productions in COVID-19 Times


The sudden global stop of many types of content production, ranging from full-blown TV/film through to commercial photo shoots, has hit the creative industry hard. With agencies unable to organize a shoot for a brand in the usual manner, and most photographers unable to leave their homes, we are in a situation where we are having to really think outside the box.

This situation is the new normal and could be for some time to come.

The challenge now is how to conduct the shoots to result in interesting, engaging, and unique content. So just how are people getting around it?

The immediate result of this has been a surge of home-made, home-shot content appearing across our digital feeds, ranging from live streams of families singing together to DJ’s playing live sets from their gardens. Athletes have even turned their hands to creating content by building obstacle courses around their homes.

With social distancing in place making it impossible for shoot crews to work together, budgets cut, the ability to travel removed, and access to local places severely restricted, one solution is to maximize on what little allowance we have to leave our homes, filming or shooting while we go.

This masterful example made for Women’s Aid does just that. Made in a week by an agency and its employees, the footage was shot around their local areas while out cycling, during their once a day outing. It pulls together images from around London, that are both spectacular and scary, and successfully conveys a powerful message.

Another agency’s approach has taken that a step further by assigning influencers and followers, in addition to their employees, to shoot content with their smartphones. The footage has been edited together and leads to impressive results:

The common theme with the above approaches is that they are not shot by professional photographers.

This has become evident to me from speaking with many who I have worked with around the world. Since COVID struck their calendars are empty.

Out of limitations comes creativity. Increasingly I am discovering strong examples of how photographers are navigating their way around these restrictions.

Long distance portraits shot through windows, or shoots conducted over FaceTime are some ingenious ways around this problem. Demonstrated brilliantly by Vogue Italia’s recent shoot with Bella Hadid:

One of the best examples I have come across is from Nashville based photographer Jeremy Cowart who, faced with a sudden drop in income came up with the #lovetransported concept.

Using Crowdcast to stream subjects in from all over the world, he uses a top-level Canon projector to beam the computer image onto a screen. Using a second projector to beam graphic visuals over and around the image of the sitter, and playing on the grainy nature of the projected image, he photographs these projections using a Canon 5DS.

The portrait sitter pays for the shoot online, and a day later receives a link to a gallery with their images. From here they can download to mark this moment in time.

I signed up, it went like clockwork and I now have my own little piece of history.

My COVID portrait reflects a strange moment in time, and the ingenuity that went into it highlights what can be dreamed up if you put your mind to it.

The time to get creative is now.

About the author: Charlie Pinder is a photographer, creative leader, content/marketing strategist, and videographer based in Bath, UK. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Pinder’s work on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.