It has been one year since the UK went into its first lockdown. This past year has been difficult for so many people and the creative industries are no exception. Prior to the Covid pandemic the creative industries were the fastest growing sector of the UK economy; however with the whole world coming to a standstill, many creatives have found themselves without work and without funding. This has led to numerous people having to change the way in which they work in order to sustain a living during these uncertain times.
Working Through Change is a new section of the blog where we want to celebrate the adaptability and resiliance of the photographic community during this past year and highlight some of those that have sucessfully altered their business models, or tried something new, to continue working during what is now the new normal of the photographic industry.
Fergus Coyle is a photographer based in Bristol who works for a handful of clients that range from advertising agencies, architects, furniture makers, and product designers to organisations such as The Wildlife Trust. He also shoots lots of self-led projects that find their way into magazines, blogs and exhibitions, like his new work that explores Bristol's bike polo scene, titled Don't be a dick. However, over the past 12 months he has had a big drop in commissions due to the pandemic. Fergus explains how he has managed to overcome this issue:
Throughout my career as a photographer, there’s forever been a stigma attached to how much work you have. Of course you want to be busy and successful but realistically there will always be peaks and troughs. With this in mind, it’s important to have a plan b, c and d!
Whilst visiting China in 2017, I produced a series of images reflecting everyday life in Wuhan and the project gained a second wave of publicity in the wake of the initial outbreak of the virus. It was a kind of unbiased, good news story away from the mainstream media’s understandably negative portrayal of the city.
Off the back of this publicity, I made a good amount of print sales direct from my websites shop. This was also helped on by an incentive called The Artist Support Pledge, set up by artist Matthew Burrows. Simply put, by joining you pledge to spend 20% of sales on other artists prints and everyone involved limits the value of their work to under £200. To take part, simply tag relevant posts on Instagram with #artistsupportpledge.
For plan c, I managed to pick up some landscape gardening work with a friend who was super busy with so many people wishing to spend more time in their gardens! This saw me through most of lockdown and although being hard physical work, kept me sane.
Lockdown has also given Fergus time to reflect on his career direction. His love of cycling has made him decide to push for more cycling commissions and invest in equipment to help update his portfolio.
Fergus's advice: Make a plan b, c, d and don't be too proud to pick up a second job!
If you would like to support Fergus and buy some of his prints then you can visit his shop here: https://www.ferguscoyle.com/store