“Initially this was a blog post from a Q&A on my social media pages about how the business has managed throughout the Covid pandemic. However it seemed a good opportunity to talk in a bit more depth about Oliver Dixon Photography. The journey of not just a Wedding Photographer through Covid 19 but also about the personal side of running a business. It’s a long read but I hope you enjoy it!”
Well, the last year has been a strange one to say the least. When I first read the stories coming out of China in January 2020, I could never have imagined what was to follow!
For the photography industry specifically the damage has been deep. Many commercial businesses I work for have been closed for the last year and weddings have been decimated. The wedding industry alone brings in just under £15bn a year to the economy. You can imagine how damaging this past year has been for a wedding photographer with marriages all but entirely banned. As a consequence of this a full season of weddings was postponed or cancelled. This has meant having to reschedule into (already busy) upcoming seasons. I was determined not to allow my clients to fall through the net and have to find new suppliers. Especially when they had already been through so much disappointment this year. Thankfully I was able to accommodate all the new dates, despite some couples having to rebook up to 3 times!
These closures left me with a bit of free time during the first lockdown. Sophie, my amazing wife, was pregnant with our beautiful baby Arthur and was forced to work from home due to shielding. This meant we were all together, an unexpected plus to the whole situation. Along with the great weather at the time, it was a chance for us to try and relax and wind down from the normal day-to-day madness.
As was the case for a lot of people, we saw the first lockdown as a chance to reset, take stock and maybe even learn a new skill. We were all stuck at home and wanted to make the time worthwhile. As I couldn’t get out and photograph weddings or food menus, I spent time creating at-home photography tutorials. Whether you were looking for something new to try or just wanted to hone your camera skills it was really rewarding to be able to create this totally free content (Food photography tutorial || pet photography tutorial). I loved receiving messages from people who were putting my advice into practice. Lots of people were kind enough to send their photos of pets, food, landscapes etc and this was really inspiring and a great way for me to keep engaged with my social media community.
That being said, when lockdown one was lifted it was a chance to get back to the job I love. To create memories for people and help companies re-open strongly with the best images to showcase their business.
Time to invest
Photographers continually maintain and upgrade camera equipment in order to provide the best standard to our clients. I knew that Covid19 had changed how we interact for a while. It was the perfect opportunity to invest in the highest quality new lenses and camera bodies. Canon all the way as always! This meant that I could continue to produce the best possible final product for my clients. When lockdown was lifted and we were allowed to work again I was able to hit the ground running in spite of any distancing restrictions put in place, confident in the ability of myself and my brand new kit to enable me to capture pin sharp images even when social distancing.
I was really proud to work with companies like Leeds List and LeedsBID on campaigns through the summer. I wanted to help the city demonstrate how shopping centres and independent businesses had adapted to Covid19 in order to keep customers safe. It was an opportunity to not only get out and work but to give back to a city and businesses that I love.
Eat Out to Help Out definitely gave the leisure and dining industry a much needed boost over the summer. This meant I was kept busy working with clients like Roxy Leisure on summer cocktail menus and showcasing venue refurbishments.
Unfortunately, as we all know things got worse again and lockdowns two and three have filled most of the time since the end of summer. I have been far from quiet though! With news of the vaccine came hope that people might be able to plan for future, restriction free celebrations and weddings. Since the announcement on the 22nd February the wedding bookings have been rolling in and I am so excited to get shooting weddings again as soon as we are able. I also managed to keep shooting by doing doorstep portraits in my community and photographing my son Arthur to document his life and for his very first modelling job!
Working with amazingly dedicated people like RJC Dance it was even possible to document events like zoom dance camps. Ordinarily taught in-person in their fantastic studios outside Leeds, we worked to adapt and bring the brilliant teaching via zoom instead. There really are no boundaries when you work alongside such dedicated people!
I am so proud of our industry when it comes together to work as one, especially in times like this. There were several industry virtual conferences over the end of last year and the start of 2021 that I was able to attend. They were a great opportunity to catch up with suppliers, businesses and wedding insiders from all over the world. Following those conferences I rebranded from the corporate ‘Contakt Photography’ into ‘Oliver Dixon Photography‘.
When Contakt was launched nearly a decade ago, I wanted to create a brand which could be expanded and franchised. Over the years though, what has transpired is that my business is firmly rooted in my personal touch and level of expertise within both the wedding and commercial industry. Something which cannot be replaced or sold on. So I wanted to make sure the business reflected that clearly with the name Oliver Dixon Photography. It’s clear my clients agree too, as bookings have rocketed since the relaunch!
Which brings us to now!
I’ve managed to navigate a particularly challenging time with the pandemic, both with running a business and the birth of my son. The country is cautiously beginning to re-open again and I’ll be back photographing a wedding in just three weeks time! I’ve had an incredible 9 months getting to know my little boy. He is definitely my silver lining in all this. Had my season of weddings gone ahead last year I would have been much less present in his first months. I have brand new kit, a fresh perspective for my brand and an itchy trigger finger. Watch this space!