AOP ADVICEUseful Information + Guidance from AOP
It’s without doubt that we are in unprecedented times at the moment and we know a lot of people will be finding it a challenge to rationalise the circumstances and work out where the reality sits.
We want to say that we are keeping a close eye on the situation, as you might expect, and are doing a number of things ourselves to minimise the impact on our operations and maintain our support for you.
Looking after yourself
It’s very easy in times like these to over-compensate for the feelings of anxiety and alarm that people might feel, so we want to reassure those of you that are perhaps feeling overwhelmed and suggest a few steps you might take to create some much-needed space for yourself:
Take a decent break from the news, particularly the health-related stuff and limit yourself to checking it less often. If you find your anxiety levels are ramped up, you may also be worried about missing something, so perhaps ask a friend, colleague or family member to let you know if there’s something important you should be aware of.
Stay away from Google and general social media ‘advice’, and don’t rely on message boards and forums for advice as often, those places will give you a polarised or skewed view of things.
Do some regular exercise, even for just twenty minutes, and focus your mind on something else, even if it’s something simple at home in your living room or concentrating on your breathing, you’ll find there are benefits to be had.
Try not to seek reassurance all the time about the situation. Yes, it is quite a shift from our usual pattern of life, but it will come to an end and business as usual will return. Believe the science and rely on facts – you won’t go far wrong with that approach.
If you do feel anxious, remember that the feeling is a normal response to extraordinary circumstance and is not permanent. It will stop and you will regain your calm and your sense of perspective.
Use any extra spare time you might have to do things that will give you a sense of achievement, regardless of what it might be, whether it’s something as simple as re-ordering your image catalogues, weeding out your old emails or learning some new skills online.
Keep in touch regularly with your friends, family and/or loved ones, no matter how briefly – it helps us all feel that bit more connected.
If you do think you have picked up the virus and are suffering from any of the following symptoms;
• fever or a high temperature (i.e., above 37.8° C)
• new, persistent cough
then you should stay at home, rest, and follow the advice of Public Health England and the NHS. Remember that for most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will manifest as a mild infection. There are groups of people for whom things may well be more serious, and if you are in one of those groups, you may need to take more action, such as going online to https://111.nhs.uk or calling 111, which is your first step if you do need more guidance or clinical advice and are more unwell. Obviously, in an emergency, call 999.
Lots of photographers are reporting having shoots cancelled or postponed. We know how difficult it can be managing one’s self-employment, even without these extraordinary circumstances, and it may be tempting to try to carry on regardless. It’s important to remember that although for many, being ill will not be that serious, for lots of people, it may be and we all have a responsibility to protect those who may be more vulnerable and to slow down the rate of infection, so our public health services are not overwhelmed.
If clients want to postpone or cancel shoots, there may be ways of carrying on production through remote working, such as using Zoom or Skype to facilitate meetings, or by using FaceTime or WhatsApp video to allow clients or art directors to see the photography taking place and Capture Pilot (for Capture One users) or web galleries to allow clients to make selects and/or approve shots before final output.
This is a tough one – you and your clients are likely to be in the same boat for a start, so enforcing cancellation clauses should be approached with some discretion and on a case-by-case basis, dependant on how what was in your contract and terms of business, how much notice you’ve been given and what alternative arrangements have been suggested. For those of you that have access to business & legal support, please do make sure you use the services we provide as and when you need to.
Managing existing and current work
We suggest that now more than ever, you do all that you can to keep hold of your own cash – if clients want something paid for, up front, for a commission, you really need to make every effort to get your client to advance you that amount, or for them to pay for it directly. Cash-flow is more important than anything in running a business, and when there’s greater uncertainty, keep your purse or wallet closed for as long as possible. If you are discussing new work, make sure that the terms of engagement include a clause about advance payments for any expenses you may incur before you can invoice.