FALLON, Nev. — Creativity found the right group of business owners to help push through the early stages of the pandemic.
From drive-by photoshoots in front of a client’s house to learning new software and techniques, several photographers had to think outside the box during the pandemic’s onset eight months ago.
Some have been able to rebound to pre-pandemic revenue levels, while others are hopeful clients return. Additionally, photographers have implemented new guidelines like masks, social distancing and health screenings to keep clients safe and healthy.
Michael Herb, who moved to Fallon several years ago and specializes in family, senior and creative portrait photography, said the pandemic-caused recession has hit his business hard. With most of his annual income affected by sports being canceled and out-of-state work being postponed or cancelled, Herb said he needed to get creative.
“Overcoming these losses required creative thinking and stepping a little out of my comfort zone,” said Herb, who works with Joyce Lund at Michael Herb Photography. “Picking the video camera back up after nearly 10 years and producing several commercials both in town and in Las Vegas helped bridge the gap. Getting a commercial drone license afforded me the ability to generate income with aerial photos and videos.”
With 20 years of experience in the field, including 10 as a business owner, Herb sees comfort and hope that one photo can make a difference, especially when facing a pandemic and its unknown course.
“I love capturing the world as my imagination sees it, not necessarily as it actually is,” said Herb, who shoots on location for most of his work while using both natural lighting and studio strobes. “However, what keeps me going on the hard days, the days when it all feels like too much, is knowing that one photo can help someone see themselves without the layers of tarnish they’ve allowed to be built upon their self-image.”
For Stephanie Winder of Myles of Memories, the pandemic affected the event portion of her photography business.
Winder, who’s been in business for three years and specializes in family, senior, couples and event photography, saw a drop with her events, including photobooths, which are commonly used during weddings and large parties.
On the bright side, her portrait work was able to recover after the state’s restrictions on nonessential businesses were lifted in May.
“Doing photo sessions is not the issue during the pandemic because keeping distance and taking pictures outside is what photography entails,” Winder said. “Photo booth events are nothing but large groups and close encounters.”
Winder said she got lucky and was able to pay rent for her studio in downtown Fallon. She had several photobooth events before the shutdown, and her job at the bombing range helped her weather the shutdown. Since spring, business has picked up.
“Things couldn’t be better. Photoshoots are at an all-time high for me,” she said. “Photobooth events won’t be able to pick up or come close to being normal until after Nevada opens back up completely.
Laura Howard of Howieloo Photography took advantage of the downtime earlier this year to improve her craft.
“This helps keep me in the loop about new and popular styles and trends that I may want to incorporate for my clients,” said Howard, who also works with Aubrey Giovanetti, who specializes in outdoor portraits. “We rely on God and hard work for our business to thrive. The pandemic did not bring us down. I chose to use it as an opportunity to grow in knowledge and push myself to be better.”
Entering her eighth year in business, Howard, who specializes in fine art photography, including newborn and family portraits, enjoys capturing the Fallon community and its support for small business.
Getting that “wow” shot, she said, is what she strives to accomplish with her clients.
“I love to freeze time in that perfect moment, the moment when the personality of a person comes through. Those images that make your heart smile because it’s something the family will enjoy for generations,” she said. “The artwork process is also my favorite. I love the art of graphic editing — the image provides a fresh palette for creativity and art that helps complete the vision and story being told through the lens. Whether it be enhancing vibrant color or playing with tones for dramatic black and whites, this all adds to creating and enhancing the focal point of the image.”
The shutdown didn’t keep photographer Taryn Lenon from being creative.
Lenon offered drive-by family photos where she would shoot from a safe distance to capture family memories in front of their house.
Her creativity didn’t stop there, as she improvised with Oasis Academy’s Class of 2020 senior class photos. Working against the clock with virtual graduation just a couple weeks away after the shutdown was lifted in the spring, Lenon was able to capture portraits of all seniors and compose them into an image, since group photography wasn’t allowed.
Creating these keepsakes is what drives Lenon with her business.
“I have had times when clients come over to choose their images and as they scroll through each image, I see confidence, beauty and sometimes they say ‘I can’t believe this is me!’” said Lenon, who specializes in boudoir, lifestyle and family photography. “For some, it is exactly what they need right in that moment and it is such a blessing to be a part of that I have clients who leave lifted and empowered. What some of these people might not know is that they do the same for me.
“Creating connections with people, getting to know them, laughing, joking, the smiles, all of it.”
Lenon said she has been able to rebound after an uncertain spring and summer and is having one of her busiest falls yet.
“The biggest challenge was the unknown and really getting an understanding of what to believe with what was all over the media,” she said. “My husband is my biggest support and the forever optimist. He said hold fast and enjoy extra time with the kids, soak it up because it just goes by too fast. We really just waited to do anything to keep ourselves safe and others safe while we navigated an odd time.”
Justin Cathey, who graduated from Churchill County High School in 2019, is trying to crack into the photography business.
During the shutdown, Cathey, who also is gaining experience working at Bell Photographers, devoted time toward learning video as well as photographing landscapes.
“I started honing in on my video skills, as well as started taking landscapes to sell online for stock photos,” he said. “I worked on some product photography jobs, and ultimately just tried to stay busy in the midst of the pandemic.”
Since May, Cathey has seen his workload slowly come back.
“Due to the pandemic, I did at first put a hold to photoshoots, and after everything started to open up, I started taking clients again,” said Cathey, whose focus is on portraits, automotive and seniors. “Sessions had to be done a little differently with masks and social distancing. All of that was definitely a challenge to work around.”