What We Learned This Week: How The Coronavirus Has Altered the Photo Industry

By David Schonauer   Friday March 13, 2020

More coronavirus news is breaking daily.

But we know the health crisis has already affected the photo industry in a number of ways, and the wider art world as well. And by most accounts the impact is just beginning, as the travel industry suffers, supply chains are disrupted, and the stock market sinks.

This week the organizers of the Paris Photo New York art fair announced that the event’s inaugural edition, scheduled for April 2 to 5, was being postponed to a later, to-be-determined date. (See Artnet News.) The decision to reschedule the event came after the World Health Organization this week officially designated the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

A week ago, the mayor of Austin, Texas, Steve Adler, announced that he had declared a local disaster and ordered the cancellation of the SXSW Festival, an important event for the film industry. “We are devastated to share this news with you,” the event’s organizers wrote on the SXSW website. ”‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”

The cancelation of the festival in Austin could have a far-reaching impact, noted NoFilmSchool, warning that the financial burden of the cancellation could be so large that the 2021 edition of SXSW may also have to be cancelled.

Art fairs around the world have responded to the coronavirus outbreak in different ways, noted Hyperallergic.

“Things are not looking good for the trade show industry, with many conferenced being canceled,” noted DIY Photography on March 5 This week we learned that the annual NAB show in Las Vegas has been cancelled. (See NoFilmSchool.) Also cancelled: Microsoft’s MVP Summit in Seattle, Google’s Cloud Next in San Francisco, and Facebook’s F8 were cancelled, days after the cancellation of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. “CP+ and MWC were both also canceled last month,” added DIYP.

On March 2, DP Review looked at how the coronavirus crisis could affect the photo industry. “The economic impact is here, and it’s very real. Recent record falls in stock markets all over the world are a clear indicator of what one analyst called an ‘economic pandemic,’ one which reflects a growing worry that markets could be badly hit by the consequences of what is now a global problem.”

Much of the impact already being felt, noted DPR, has focused on the disruption of supply chains from China. This week Nikon has announced that its new D6 flagship DSLR will be delayed by at least two months due to a hold-up of critical parts. The delay period is tentatively two months, but Nikon is waiting for more clarity regarding the developing situation before promising any specific date, noted PetaPixel.

In other updates: The Photography Show in the UK has now been postponed, notes Tech Radar. Art News reports that small New York galleries and non-profits could be eligible for coronavirus funds. PetaPixel looks at how the coronavirus will affect the photo workshop business. PetaPixel also looks at how freelance photographers are coping with coronavirus.

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week:

1. Peter Lindbergh's "Untold Stories"

Before his death last September, the lauded fashion and portrait photographer Peter Lindbergh began curating an exhibition of his own work titled "Untold Stories," on view at the Kunstpalast in Dusseldorf, Germany, through June 1. The first show that Lindbergh compiled himself, it brings together some 150 images taken from as far back as the early 1980s — work that inevitably provides insights into his methods and relationships. To accompany exhibition, we noted, there is a book from Taschen featuring never-before-seen images and anecdotes.

2.  A Journalist Looks to the Ocean for Solace

Marissa Roth covered the 1992 Los Angeles riots while on staff at the Los Angeles Times, garnering a Pulitzer Prize, and devoted nearly four decades to a personal essay, “One Person Crying: Women and War,” examining the impact of war on women around the world. Between 2015 and 2019 she embarked on seven transatlantic trips between New York City and Southampton, England, capturing seascapes along the way. The work, collected in a new book, is still connected to her work on women and war, noted The Washington Post.

3. Martin Usborne's "Silence of Dogs in Cars”

As child, Martin Usborne was left in a car.  “I wondered if anyone would come back,” he says. “It’s this fear of abandonment that Martin, now a photographer, has tried to recreate in his new series “The Silence of Dogs in Cars.” “Featuring rejected, lonely and expectant pups, often meeting the lens of the camera with unbearable sadness, the series extrapolates from his very personal experience while commenting on the way humans treat voiceless animals more widely,” noted It’s Nice That.

4. David Stewart's Modern Day Memento Mori

The Victorian English had a way to remember the dead: They photographed them. Memento mori photography, as it was known, may seem a macabre practice to the modern eye, but in 1850s England, when epidemics of diphtheria, typhus and cholera killed children and adults alike, the use of photography to commemorate lost loved ones became popular. When his father died three years ago, London-based photographer David Stewart used a 4x5 camera to shoot portraits of him as he lay at rest. Like the memento mori photos of old, we noted, his images, now on view at London's Wren gallery, reflect not so much on death as the nature of life.

5. Michael Shainblum's Star Trail Timelapses


The world can’t seem to get enough night sky imagery. And that’s okay with time-lapse creator Michael Shainblum: His latest video, titled Drifting Through the Night, features star trails in 4K. “These trails were created by blending hundreds of long exposure images for each individual timelapse. The intro sequences are a blend of star trail timelapses mixed with regular night sky timelapses to create a singular shooting star effect,” he notes. Locations for the video include Lone Pine, California; the Dolomite range in Italy; and Kauai, Hawaii.
At top: From Peter Lindbergh's "Untold Stories"


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