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Local Photographers Learn to Pivot Amid COVID-19

The photography business was hit hard by the novel coronavirus. While conditions aren’t like they used to be, photos can still be picture-perfect.

You could say the novel coronavirus changed the big picture for photographers; but like many other business owners, they have adapted and are still trying to find ways to make business work where they can.

Marvin Hall, owner of Studio M Portraits, is a longtime photographer most known for his coverage of Grand Ledge sports, area senior photography and weddings. COVID-19 closed his studio in Holt for months. Hall also lost over one-third of his income with the cancellation of high school sports for photo coverage.

With studio photography allowed again, Hall makes sure his senior portrait clients feel as safe as possible.

“I sanitize the studio before and after each session,” Hall said. I wear a mask in the studio and require anyone accompanying the senior to wear one as well.”

Hall even installed UV-C air purifiers that run while he has clients in studio.

For now, Hall and other photographers can also use the great outdoors as a backdrop. They can socially distance and use telephoto lenses, which they also do in studio. Hall said outdoor sessions aren’t much different than they used to be with a few exceptions.

“The biggest difference is being able to show clients images from the back of my camera or being close for personal direction,” he said.

Jill Lenkowski, owner of Two Ring Photography, echoed Hall’s statements: “Before COVID-19, I would be a lot closer and hands-on by fixing hair or clothes; but since then, I’ve had to direct the senior or parent to fix a hair out of place or straps on a dress.”

Lenkowski has found a positive after having gone from photographing 200-plus people at indoor weddings to photographing about 20 guests at outdoor venues.

“It’s making for much more intimate weddings,” Lenkowski said.

Owosso-area photographer Alex Stechschulte of Photos by Alex S lost a lot of business at the onset of the pandemic as well. From homecoming dances to dance studios and senior portraits, COVID-19 shut down all opportunities. Now that he can allow clients inside, Stechschulte is planning on getting back into his studio soon.

“We are following CDC guidelines including physical distancing and proper mask use,” Stechschulte said. “Typically, we have an in-studio hair and makeup artist who ensures our seniors are always looking their best. … I’m excited to be instilling these services again with extra sanitary and safety precautions within the next week.”

Stechschulte is looking forward to photographing the class of 2021.

“More than ever, during this pandemic, we have realized what is truly important in life and we never know what tomorrow will hold,” Stechschulte said.

The future is uncertain. While they can currently work in-studio, photographers will be scheduling as many outside photoshoots as possible while the weather permits and taking all required precautions to work inside.

It shouldn’t change the experience for clients, according to Lenkowski: “This world may have changed, but what pictures look like doesn’t have to.”

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