PHOTOGRAPHERS & SMALL BUSINESSES FACING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK – LET’S NOT LET THIS BREAK US
The world is in a moment where we fight for our future. Let’s be compassionate and support those who are affected by the coronavirus situation – those who suffer directly and those who care for them, also those who bring us inspiration, knowledge and progress, so they can keep doing it.
These days I tried to avoid reading too much social media or anything else on the internet other than official news websites, or to talk publicly about what is happening. The reason is that the situation with the new coronavirus is slowly affecting the entire world one way or the other and I am very sensitive to seeing people suffering. So I tried to keep some distance but it is not easy. We just can’t hide and we need to face this situation. Because we are all vulnerable to it.
So I decided to say something and share my experience.
But first I want to beg you to please be careful and not only with yourselves but also with those who are more vulnerable, those who are less young or who are already struggling with other health issues. We all have the right to live a good and long life and we all need to work together towards it. Everything is interconnected in the world and everything we do affects others too. We are all responsible for everyone else and this is why we need to be compassionate and mindful.
LET’S NOT LET THIS BREAK US
There are many people who are suffering and struggling because of the situation. There are those who are sick right now and there are those who are around them, caring for them and being worried about their health. There are those who are weeping now for having lost someone to the virus. There are the doctors and nurses caring for the people in the hospitals who are working around the clock and giving it all to save human lives. And there are also those, who even if they aren’t directly touched, are still affected by this surreal situation in their work and who are worried not only about their health but also about their professional future. This is where I am right now and with me many others.
Even if I’m healthy and happily no one close to me has been affected so far, from a professional point of view this situation is affecting me and is affecting many others who are in a similar position – photographers, educators, artists, travel guides and so many others. So I am continuously thinking about this and working on dealing with the effects it has on my work.
A big part of my work is teaching photography through workshops and this means traveling all over the world to do that so I can meet people that are not only in my close community but people who are living worldwide. It is a work I love with passion and this love I have for my teaching work can be seen in the warm response I have from my students who are learning and being inspired when we share this passion for photography we all have and by the fact that these workshops sell out the moment I launch them. This makes me happy because I’m happy when I see someone inspired and being able to create photography that they love.
Unfortunately, the situation that is unfolding now, with travel being suspended between countries, means that one of the first and most essential tools I have at my disposition to reach people all over the world by traveling is out of reach for the time being. Hopefully, this is not going to last for too long but even if it doesn’t, it has already impacted my plans for the near future in a very concrete way and it troubles me with a view to the more distant future.
I was preparing to teach a workshop in New York at the end of the month and everything was ready, everybody was happy and we were all so excited and looking forward to meeting and sharing our passion for photography in a wonderful city, shooting wonderful architecture and creating wonderful fine art photography work. But this is not going to happen as we planned, and not because we don’t want to, but because it’s impossible. So I had to postpone the workshop and hopefully things are going to go well until then and we will be able to do it as we planned.
Below you can see a slideshow of a small collection of images I shot in New York to give you an idea of what we were going to photograph. No wonder everyone was so excited, right?
I am trying to be hopeful for the future, however, what happened saddened me and made me think much deeper. Even if I know that there are people who are having much more serious and acute issues right now, like those who are directly battling this virus, I’m just thinking that even if our health hasn’t been affected personally yet, we can be affected in so many ways and they can be heartbreaking.
I have a few other workshops planned that I wanted to announce soon but things being the way they are I’m even afraid to do it because everyone is worried and no one is thinking about traveling now. So even if those workshops were planned for later in the year or for next year, psychologically I’m afraid to even think about them for fear I won’t be able to do them. It’s an almost irrational fear, as it is the fear everyone feels these days. It is just so hard to plan anything right now. And this is exactly where the serious issue is for me and others in the same field of work. Our activity is frozen while no other expenses froze and we need to figure out how we are going to get out of this situation.
For me, not being able to continue doing workshops for a considerable amount of time would mean I can’t continue doing photography. It is THAT serious. This work is my main work, it is what pays my bills, and the only thing that puts food on the table for my kid, and if things change radically, I won’t be able to sustain myself and her like this. It’s a thought I don’t want to have in my mind, but it is something I have to think about because you never know how things go.
I know many others in this business of photography or the business of teaching, travel and many other small businesses, or one-man or one-woman businesses like I am, in different fields, have the same worries and I know that we try to not think about it, but it is there, and right now there’s no solution to it because unfortunately, this is something that you can hardly control on your own. It is out of our hands entirely right now.
Initially, I didn’t want to talk about this publicly because I don’t like to blame external circumstances or anybody else for any hardship I may encounter in my work or life, but I think that this is a much more general situation than what I experience myself and I think that we all need to think about it. Maybe what I say here can help others too and then I consider it my duty to talk about it.
WE NEED TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER TO GET THROUGH THIS
I think we all need to support each other to get through this, and support those who are doing a work that is beneficial for the community and the world at large: educators, teachers, people who inspire others, people who share their knowledge, people who show us the world and help us get to know ourselves better, scientists, doctors, people who generally help the world to progress.
We need to support these people so they can continue doing their work even in these uncertain conditions.
The world has progressed over the ages because of people who were willing to share their knowledge, because of people who were willing to sacrifice something in their personal lives in order to provide to others, in order to inspire others so the world as a whole becomes better, smarter, happier.
These people usually are not the people who have the most resources in financial terms because the business of knowledge, the business of art and science has never been a profitable business. But these people have the passion, and for them helping others and sharing knowledge is the best reward they can have because for them the progress of humanity is the most important thing we have. They feel that it is the highest honor to participate in this progress and support it and this is where you can find the visionaries who will make the world of tomorrow possible.
The world as we know it wouldn’t exist without these people. They are the ones who keep the world in balance and push it towards new heights.
So let’s help these people by supporting them as much as we can. Some have more possibilities than others, so the way one supports others can be different in terms of actual actions, but we should all do it. What can be more rewarding and satisfying than knowing that you have helped, that you have backed someone who can bring progress and inspiration to the world, so they can keep doing it? This is helping not only those people but all of us.
I hope I will be able to continue doing what I love – bring knowledge and inspiration to others by teaching workshops worldwide. This is my way of making a contribution to the progress in the world and of showing my love for humanity. I hope the conditions will be right and that my students will understand that, even if this is a very difficult time for me as a workshop leader, as it is for others who do the same, I will do everything to keep doing this work I love. But all of us that are in this situation need help, be it only the help of others understanding that if things don’t go exactly as planned for a while, if there are difficulties and we have to postpone workshops or activities or change some things so everyone is safe, it is something we have to do and, as far as I am concerned it is a situation that I will change back to normal as soon as it is humanly possible.
I think and hope I speak for all those who are in this situation, and I hope that me sharing my experience is helping others to understand and be compassionate, not only with those directly affected by the situation, but also with those whose work and service to the community and world has been perturbated in these difficult times.
There are many people all over the world right now struggling with this infamous virus, directly or indirectly, there are people battling for their life, and I want to send them my warmest thoughts of support, either they are healing from it, or they have been affected in any other way, workwise or through their loved ones suffering.
I’m thinking about China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, France, Germany, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Sweeden, Japan, Denmark and so many others that are or will be affected by this outbreak – practically the entire world.
I keep thinking that, if I was reading 3 months ago the news I am reading today, I would think that I’m reading science fiction literature or I’m in some extreme video game. Yet this is reality and we all need to deal with it the best we can.
Let’s all support each other as much as we can because, as always, humanity can overcome situations of crisis only when we are united and compassionate.
May all be well and overcome these difficult moments soon and without too much suffering.
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Julia Anna Gospodarou is an internationally acclaimed award-winning photographer, an architect with a Master’s degree, a best-selling author, and a highly sought-after educator, teaching workshops and lecturing around the world. Founder of (en)Visionography™ and creator of Photography Drawing™, author of the best-selling book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography, multiple times awarded in the most important photography competitions worldwide (Two-Time International Photography Awards IPA Photographer of the Year 2016 & 2021, World Photography Awards SWPA Top 10 Finalist, and Hasselblad Masters Top 10 Finalist, as well as 100+ more awards), widely published internationally in books and magazines, Julia is passionate about art and photography and striving to spread the ideas of fine art photography and (en)Visionography all over the world.
Your words, as well as your photography, are inspirational. Not since the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919, when 50 million people died world wide, have we faced such a health crisis. But science is much better equipped now to deal with this pandemic, so Hope must sustain us, that science will eventually get this contained, assuming we all act responsibly. We’re in uncharted waters, but Hope and optimism will help get us through. In the meantime, best wishes to you and your daughter that circumstances allow your inspirational voice and images to continue to so positively influence the world of Photography.
Sam, I completely agree with you. We are living challenging times but I have trust in science that it will help us get through this without too many people suffering. And we need to do our part too, of caring for others so to avoid for things to get worse especially for people who are exposed. I hope you and your family are doing fine. Take care, stay safe and thank you for the good thoughts.
Thanks for such a long article, I have been following up the news since January, and of course being a photographer that too lead to all workshops cancelled.
I have always kept a Zen mind, but starting to feeling comprehensive lately. I always looking at situation from an outside point of view, and I can see so many lives and business will take a huge hit because of this abrupt first scenario lingers into the future.
I kept my silence for a lot longer, still have not yet talk about this publicly. I am absorbing everything, how individuals react, how politicians and countries respond.
It’s more apparent, that how everything is interconnected, no matter which corner of the world we are coming from, and above all, our responsibilities to other living things on this planet too. This virus no longer just us fighting for lives, but same time, our believes, and to reconnect again with the kindness and pureness of our heart.
I send my sincere thanks for your inspiration and all my love over the coming months…….
Thank you for your thoughtful response, Juanli. Indeed, we are all interconnected and, if nothing else, this is what this crisis is showing us. That when we don’t care for the other, in the end it means we don’t care for ourselves. Maybe what we are living now will open our eyes to understand that we need to support each other for this world to continue being what we want it to be. Many people are suffering now and many will suffer in the near future, many lives will change and I just hope that we are going to overcome it sooner rather than later. It also depends on all of us what kind of world we will wake up to when all this is over. For now, take care and stay safe.
Thank you for the article, Julia. Your genuine compassion and concern come through. You are inspirational in many ways. We do need to come together. We have a common enemy now, but still there is too much partisanship and nationalism. As one of the “less young” my livelihood does not depend on photography, but the treat to my health and those in my family and community, and threats to my financial state and that of all, are of great concern. All the best to you and your daughter, and to all those that are facing effects from this pandemic…which in one way or another, great or small, will be each of us.
Thanks to you, Thomas, for your beautiful words. I hope things are going to go well for you and for everyone and we are going to get out of this challenge as soon as possible and without too much suffering. We will all be affected one way or the other but the most important is to stay safe and healthy. Take care and I wish you and your family all the best through these challenging times.