Isolation, Corona and STILL Photographing Adventure Elopements?: I’ve struggled with how I want to talk about this and what to say and as time goes on and things worsen, I just need to start somewhere, I need to write this for myself and for you all. Weddings are about emotion, not money.
This is an incredibly difficult time for us all, many people are cancelling their weddings completely but some have switched to host an adventure elopement instead. As much as I am a proponent of the quiet and intimate adventure elopement, this is NOT isolation.
I belong to a very many photography groups on Facebook. We are all sole proprietors and 1099, currently unable to collect unemployment and out thousand of dollars in cancelled weddings. You know what though, this is not the problem and we need to stop being selfish and behaving as it is the big problem.
I sat back and quietly watched as adventure elopement photographers attempt to still photograph clients at this time, and I think it’s deplorable. As adventure elopement photographers we need to first be stewards of the environment and set the right examples.
Weddings are emotional, not about money. I want to be the photographer that cares about you, your safety and giving you the amazing experience that you deserve. As photographers we usually care about the emotional storytelling – that is what I am about and what I will always be about.
We photographers need to shift our concerns away from how we will pay our bills and do the right thing. Because that is so much more important to me and how I conduct my business. Still photographers in these groups continue to look for work-arounds and alternatives to plans that were cancelled. Some photographers are still getting out there and shooting because why? Because our National Parks and monuments are not closed. Because they think they are young and healthy and that they can still make a dime amidst all of this. If the client is willing to still have their adventure elopement in this climate, they are going to be there to shoot it. I want to change that narrative, I will be a leader in protecting your special day and making sure that we do it with concern for others.
All I hear in these photography groups is, me me ME. What about US what about the whole of this country. What about providing a good service and showing concern for your fellow Americans? Just because the national parks aren’t closed does NOT mean that it’s ok to reschedule your cancelled Italy wedding to a national park, with or without a permit. It is completely irresponsible. For photographers that promote LNT (Leave no trace) initiatives, this goes completely against those ideas. Do we have no creed, no morals or ethics? Why are adventure photographers forgetting their business models and letting this fall to the wayside for a dime? Because they are thinking only of themselves, much like the rest of the country.
I have a special relationship with Grand Canyon and people keep coming. The entry fees are lifted and though by now almost all services are closed, people continue to come. They come to a place where there are limited restrooms, mostly compost toilets and no running water or soap to stay safe, only hand sanitizers at best. And yet today, another bus load of 40 unloads at the Grand Canyon General Store, standing closer than 6 feet away from each other and entering the store as a large group. If that sounds wrong to you, it is! It’s also wrong to bring your clients to a park, and have an adventure elopement, EVEN if it’s only the three of you and you keep your distance from each other.
As adventure elopement photographers, the parks should be our friends. We need to take care of them and the people that live there and help us accomplish our adventure elopement goals. The people who live here are important to make this place go. They provide lodging, food and services to YOUR clients surrounding YOUR wedding day and now you are telling them that you don’t care about them or their families, you just need to make that dollar before it’s too late. Guess what? It’s too late already and adventure elopement photographers are a part of the problem.
Grand Canyon National Park has a community of 2,500-3,000 people within it. It’s just like other communities that you are from, we have churches, a k-12 school, a preschool, library, post office and of course hotels and visitor services. Many do not have an option to leave.
On March 18th the Department of Interior (DOI) not only announced waiving entrance fees, but that they “offer special outdoor experiences to recreate, embrace nature, and implement social distancing.”
Grand Canyon cannot sustain both its community and an impeding, unchecked, visitor population. Our “local” large scale medical center is 1.5 hours away. Our “local” Walmart or Target is 1.5 hours away. Our local team of, wonderful, first responders are just as important to remember during this time.
What is the right thing to do?
STAY AT HOME. This is one measure we can take now to be able to get back to doing what we do best sooner, photographing adventure weddings. Unfortunately, it’s really too late. Make sure your business models care about the safety of others and NOT the bottomline, as that is what is going to save your face and make you an adventure photography career. I look forward to seeing who still stands when it all blows over, until then, stay home be safe and do the right thing. Money is only money in the end but how you run your business will live on forever.