Thursday, March 19, 2020

The new normal - things to do to keep us sane during social distancing!

Normally when I write a blog post, I figure that I am speaking to a small subset of the world. As a reader, you might be into photography, sports, wildlife or maybe you just like looking at photos or reading my stories. Today's blog post is written to try and help fellow photographers and a broader group, as so many of us try to stay home, and stay sane in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

It has been less than a week of "social distancing" for me, with my family spread out across the western US and me holding down the fort here in the Bay Area. As I looked towards the numerous weeks ahead (or god forbid - more), I knew that I needed a plan to stay sane during this time of self isolation. And for those of you who know me well, you know that I am really "Type A" and not used to staying in one place.

Since all of my events have been cancelled for the months of March, April, and probably all of May, I needed to keep myself busy, in order to keep from going nuts. Here are some of things which I am planning on doing, many of which might help all of you:

1. Catch up!

First and foremost, I have been getting caught up on my photo retouching. I am retouching not only for clients who have placed orders, but also for vendors who have asked for photos for their marketing use.

2. Clean up!

With my usual crazy schedule, my office has not been cleaned and organized in years. I have started cleaning up a little already, but plan on going through every drawer and really doing a deep clean in the coming days or weeks. My goal is to purge accessories that I have not used in a long time. And yes, I may sell some stuff here on the blog in the near future.

3. Learn something new

I have been using Adobe Photoshop for more years than I can count, but I also know that there is more to the program than I have ever used. I am planning on using KelbyOne, YouTube, LinkedIn Learning and other resources to see what other features of Photoshop might be useful to me in the future.

I also diving deeper into my online services, like 17 Hats and Zenfolio to see how I can improve my use of those tools. Both services have automated workflows which I am currently not using to their full potentials. Now that I have the time, I want to get in there, learn them, and turn them on for future business.

4. Update the website

Speaking of Zenfolio (which powers both my website and web galleries for clients), I am planning on making changes to my site. I also know that I am not the typical photographer in that I keep my site fairly up to date. Many photographers do not do this, and this is a great time to get your website current.

I am planning on doing the following:

* Updating my web site with new images,
* Deleting images that are no longer favorites
* Changing the order of images in my primary galleries
* Creating automated messages to clients when a gallery is about to expire
* Updating the text in my current automated messages to be clearer and more concise
* Look for any errors or old links which are no longer needed

5. Update the workflow

I have to admit it, I get really stuck in my ways. I have been using Photo Mechanic and Photoshop as my primary workflow for a really long time. I do not plan on changing that since it is working so well, but we are switching our album design to Fundy Software. During this time, my wife is taking the time to learn this new software, so that she is comfortable using it moving forward.

6. Blog

Since I am using time now to write this, I had to add this to the list. Yes, I can use all this down time to share my photos and advice with all of you. If you have ever thought about starting a blog, now could be a great time to create content.

7. Read the manuals

What??? This is crazy! Did I just suggest to read your manuals? Yes I did. There are probably features in your camera, your flash, your computer, or something else in your life that might be helpful to you. I just got the new Meural Canvas digital photo frame from Netgear, so I am reading the manual on this product. I know for a fact that most people do not use the custom menus of their camera. Learn how to use these and you will thank me later!

8. Listen to some interesting podcasts

About a year ago, a friend turned me on to some really great podcasts, which was really life changing. I like to walk between 6 to 10 miles a day, and this is a great way to entertain myself on those walks. Here are some of my favorites:

* How I Built This
* American Innovations
* Business Wars
* TED Talks Daily

If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments. I would love to explore others, as I am sure other would too.

9. Get out and take a walk (keeping your distance from others)

I just mentioned that I like to get outside and walk, and this is something that is easy to do. Your local gym is probably closed right now (as is my local ice rink), but this does not mean that we all have to stay inside and be couch potatoes. As long as we are allowed to leave our homes (and I hope this does not change), get out and get some fresh air. This will help lift your spirits.

10. Binge watch Netflix and Amazon Prime

Both of these services offer a plethora of programming that is sure to interest everyone out there. When I get tired of working, I find it really relaxing to kick back and watch some fun shows.

11. Catch up with family and friends (local or remotely)

This may be the last tip, but is surely not last in the order in which you should plan your day. This is a great time to spend quality time with your friends and family. Even if you can not be together physically, you can use Facetime, Skype, or other services to stay connected visually. If that is not practical for you, there is always the good ole phone.

I hope these tips give you some good ideas on how to pass the time. Hopefully you will stay productive and entertained during this tough time.

I hope that all of you stay safe, healthy and happy.

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