How I’m Surviving the Pandemic as a Non-Essential Photographer

April 5, 2020 – Lockdown. Quarantine. Isolation. Shut down. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s been 3 weeks since it started, and 3 weeks since I posted anything to my photography pages. But it’s time to finally crawl out of my cocoon and start to work through it all. I’m gonna get real here and share what I’ve been experiencing personally, because I don’t know any other way to do it.

​I haven’t posted because I haven’t known how to do so in light of this whole nightmare we are living through. As a business owner, I’m told that I should continue to market my business, to stay in front of my audience, to stay relevant. As a human, it just doesn’t feel right. How can I try to convince people that they should spend their money on photography when our country is on the verge of economic collapse? Luxuries are the last thing on my mind right now and I know I’m not alone. Personally I am annoyed that I’m still getting calls about my car’s extended warranty and DM’s asking if I’m ready to transform my life in 30 days or less. No Karen, I’m busy trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage ok?

We’ve never been in this situation in our entire lives and it’s a very scary position to be in. I know it won’t always be this way, but I’m worried. Worried about personal finances, whether I will still have a business when this is over, whether my family is ok, if our country will ever be the same again, whether this is really the apocalypse or just a massive overreaction, the list goes on. The thought of blogging and posting photos as if nothing is wrong just seemed inappropriate when there’s so many families like mine who are struggling to get through this. And when it’s all said and done, are people going to be spending money on “non-essentials” like photography anyway? Is it as important to others as it is to me?

I was so unsure of how to continue that backed away from photography all together for the first two weeks. Didn’t pick up my camera, didn’t read any photography blogs, didn’t invest any time in education. Two weeks away might not seem like a long time, but when it’s something that you live and breathe and spend nearly all of your time on every single day, two weeks is a lifetime. I just didn’t have it in me. Photography usually brings me such joy, but suddenly I felt like it was being taken away by this virus that’s making us prisoners in our own homes. Looking through my portfolio brought me to tears one day because I worry that my dream of having a succesful photography business might be over. It may sound overly dramatic, but I said I was going to be real, and that’s exactly how I felt in that moment.

But then I remembered that I had an online class coming up which I had signed up for long before the shut down. It was a portfolio & website review with Elena S. Blair, and I wasn’t about to miss it since I had already paid. It forced me to sit down and look at my work again, and because I’d been away from it for a bit, I was able to see it with fresh eyes and a new perspective. 

I said all of that so that I could say this: I need to make pictures. I need that creative outlet in my life, now more than ever. I know there are far more pressing matters in all of our lives right now, but creating and sharing my art is how I will get through it. I have a personal project that I’ve been working on for about a year now, and I’ve held back sharing it because I was unsure of how it would be perceived since it’s not about beautiful newborn babies and carefree kids. It’s a little bit heavy, but seems fitting in these times. I’ll be adding it to my website soon so check back to see it. And know that when you see me posting on Facebook or Instagram, it’s not that I’m insensitive to the crisis we are facing. It’s just me trying to survive it.

Hang in there friends. This can’t last forever.

Tracy Miller is a family, newborn, & fine art photographer serving Pittsburgh & surrounding communities in Pennsylvania including Greensburg, Latrobe, Irwin, North Huntingdon, Ligonier, Penn Township, Fox Chapel, Penn Hills, Monroeville, Penn-Trafford, Squirrel Hill, Wexford, Murrysville, and beyond.



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