The Covid-19 pandemic has, unsurprisingly, had a huge impact on industries around the globe with many companies furloughing staff, some laying off workers entirely and numerous businesses closing down for good. The photographic industry hasn’t gone unscathed either with several suppliers pausing production, galleries closing their doors and countless photographers out of work.
Just last month Nikon issued a ‘recognition of extraordinary losses’ to its investors along with plans to revalue the company’s assets in an attempt to cut its future taxes. An updated financial forecast reports the expectation that the company may lose 16.6% in revenue due to the impact of the global pandemic on its ‘Imagine Business Division’ and a potential 92.7% drop in operating profits.
According to retail intelligence firm Stackline, sales of cameras have dropped by 64% in the United States, making them one of the most-affected products, second only to luggage and briefcases. The data, compiled from e-commerce sales, compares sales in March 2019 to March 2020. This result was also reflected in data released in Japan where sales of mirrorless cameras were down by 50% during the same period, before dropping by 74% in April according to a report from BCN.
However, it is not all bad news for the photography industry. The medium has also been a key vehicle of communication during the pandemic, spreading awareness, documenting experiences and communicating guidelines. Various photographers have produced bodies of work exploring life in lockdown, experimenting with the process and even creating new commercial opportunities.
In the UK, the National Portrait Gallery has launched a ‘community project’ encouraging photographers of all abilities to submit portraits that capture ‘the spirit, mood, hopes, fears and feelings of the nation as we continue to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak’. The Hold Still project, led by NPG and RPS patron The Duchess of Cambridge, will result in a shortlist of images that will be exhibited throughout the UK and online.
As we cautiously emerge from lockdown, keep an eye on the RPS’ Covid-19 page for updates on events, opportunities and developments.