Welcome to our new series of quick Q and As, where we find out how professional photographers in a range of genres have been managing to survive in these difficult, highly restricted times. First up is top landscape and nature photographer, Ross Hoddinott
How was the first lockdown for you?
It was ok in the sense that it was in spring, the time of year when I could really devote some time to my photography. Often in spring I am travelling around and not able to make the most of the things on my doorstep. So apart from the financial consequences I enjoyed the opportunity to focus more on local subjects and take more photographs. I’m lucky enough to have a bit of land with woods and meadows down here on the Devon and Cornwall border, so I was able to go out and take pictures of insects and flowers and other spring subjects – so yes, it was quite a welcome time. The weather was great too.
Surely you had to cancel a lot of workshops, though?
Workshops and one to ones were indeed cancelled but I was able to diversify and do a bit more writing and more magazine work. I also finished an eBook, which I had been planning to do for a while – so I was very productive. When we came out of the first lockdown, workshops and one to ones could resume.
So how are you finding this current lockdown?
It is harder. Given the time of year, there is not so much to shoot on my doorstep. Also, as a pro photographer, I have been struggling to understand what I am allowed to do. Government guidelines say there should no non-essential travel, but they also say I can travel for work – so does that mean I can drive miles to shoot landscapes?
Trying to balance what I am legally allowed I am do with the ethics of the situation – everyone doing their bit – is puzzling. How far I can go and how often? I don’t come into contact with people when I shoot but still I am confused. At the moment I am choosing remote spots which are local to me, justifying it as part of my daily exercise.
Are you doing more workshops and tutorials online, as you can’t run physical ones…
We’ve cancelled all workshops to March and anticipate having to cancel more, along with a planned trip to the Faroes… We have to make decisions based on what we know NOW rather than trying to second-guess the future.
In terms of online tuition, I have done it if people approach me, but I really enjoy being hands on, taking people out, showing them how to fine tune their set up etc. So online sessions are not something I enjoy to the same degree. But we all have to adapt and diversify.
Are you getting government help?
Both my wife and I qualify for the self-employment scheme, and it’s looked after our business really well. I know some pro photographers who set themselves up as limited companies, and as company directors, they are falling between the gaps. In hindsight, I am glad we didn’t set up our company, Dawn to Dusk, as limited company.
Ross Hoddinott is one of the UK’s leading outdoor photographers. He is multi-award winning, and the author of eight books. Ross is recognised as a close-up specialist, and enjoys photographing insects and wild plants. Visit www.dawntoduskphotography.co.uk and www.rosshoddinott.co.uk
Ross Hoddinott: I will definitely change to mirrorless