It’s no secret that Coronavirus upended many people’s plans in 2020 and beyond. World Travel? Only between the couch and the fridge. Wedding plans? Too many people. Change job? What jobs? Well, some people managed to create new ones for themselves. 2020 was a year for the entrepreneur and the self-starter. The entire global economy shifted in what seems like a heartbeat. Although as the real world contracted, the virtual world opened up. Just ask Zoom (NASDAQ). Online retailers, providers of online services, and delivery services from packing to door service were suddenly in even higher demand than any tech bubble could provide or even guess at, Amazon’s (NASDAQ) stock price grew near exponentially.
But another set of people made a different sort of profit in the new Corona world. You’re familiar with all the trends by now, from baking bread to learning a new language, to planting that succent garden you always wanted. Some people unexpectedly and rapidly had time to pursue their personal and professional dreams as they we’re sidelined or completely tossed from their jobs.
Philipp H. Kindt is just one of many Singapore-based photographers whose career has been kickstarted as the country reopens.“The pandemic was a difficult time for everybody. Suddenly the retail jobs I had been working were closed or very limited, many people were left without anything to do as we tried to wait it out. It was really amazing for me that I had a lot more time to focus on my photography.”
Kindt explained It was a hobby for years. He took a photography class in high school and it “changed how I looked at art. It changed how I looked at the world.” The next year he received a used Canon camera for Christmas, and he started snapping everything. Parks and shopping centers, people on the street. Birds, dogs, plants, and bugs. “When you can capture a singular movement or a singular moment, you start seeing those moments everywhere,” Philipp explains. He started pulling books off the shelves at his parents’ home and snapping pictures of words and pictures that he’d loved as a child. “They have this old atlas that I loved as a kid. I would open it and pore over the maps, planning trips to faraway places like Switzerland and Russia, and of course the United States. I always wanted to go to California!” The pictures of the old maps are some of his favorites.
Not Just a Hobby
Like so many people, Philipp wanted to turn his hobby into a lifestyle, and a job. Being a professional photographer is not just about being good with a camera or knowing how to make good edits. Like starting any new venture, there’s marketing, accounting, planning, and logistics involved. “I had no idea how to do any of this stuff. I’d never been responsible for my own taxes before, it always just came straight out of my paycheck, right?” These were the first baby steps towards a new career, and a new freedom.
Today Philipp is not just roaming the streets and parks and bookstores, but that spirt of adventure has been profitable for him. He got most of his first gigs just knocking on the doors of businesses, asking if he could help them with social media pictures, advertisements, and even videos. A friend designed a business card for him (he paid in-kind with engagement photos) After that, word started to spread, almost as fast as worries about the Corona virus were disappearing. Weddings and birthdays, artists and dance performances, and even a few clubs. Business has been going so well, last month he had to turn down work, passing a few gigs on to other photographer friends.
“Social media was an amazing tool during the pandemic. I saw other photographers’ photos, and learned so much from them, and it became a way to find work and help my friends find jobs. And it really pushed me to put in the work. There’s an amazing community of photographers in Singapore. Honestly I’m a little grateful for the pandemic for pushing me to grab this opportunity.”
We should all be so grateful. Maybe.