Coronavirus Update – July

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It’s been 15 weeks since the UK government introduced its lockdown measures. These measures are now being eased, so I though I would give a ‘Coronavirus Update’ about changes I am making. Covid 19 has affected us all. Some people have been affected more than others. I’m sure we have all been affected in ways that aren’t obvious to other people and maybe not even to ourselves. And probably in ways that haven’t come to light yet. I hope you are all keeping safe and staying sane.

During this time we have all had to make difficult decisions about work and life. Being self-employed is a double edged sword. You have the freedom of being your own boss, but you have no fixed income, no holiday or sick pay. This is two sided-ness has been highlighted during the Covid 19 pandemic. I can keep myself as safe as I want, but I will lose out on potential income. I do at least have my fate in my own hands, I know others aren’t so lucky. They feel a pressure to go back to work if others have deemed it safe for them to do so.

What is changing now?

So now that more lockdown restrictions have been eased, what does that mean for Andrew Bert Greaves Photography? Well, to start with Edington Farm Shop has reopened, so you can once again buy my cards from there, whilst also buying some of there more essential items. Their opening hours have changed, so check them before you go. Of course they have measures in place to keep everyone safe, so be mindful of that fact too.

I am able to do photo shoots again. While I can, according to the guidelines, do these indoors I will only be doing outdoor shoots. This is safest for everyone, as it means that proper social distancing can be maintained. This does make it weather dependent, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue at this time of the year, even in the UK (hopefully).

I am now selling to countries outside the UK again through my shop and through Etsy. As mentioned in a previous blog, I stopped selling overseas as I felt this was safest for all concerned. But now as things are easing, it seems the right time to open up that part of my business again.

Decision making

When lockdown started, I changed several things about how I run my business. Some of those were because of the government’s measures, and others were based on my own decisions aimed at keeping people safe. There were things that I could have carried on doing but chose not to.

I keep up to date with the latest government advice and use that to inform my decisions about how to safely run my business. But just because the government say that we are now allowed to do something, doesn’t mean to say that we should. The overriding thing for the UK government right now is the economy and it is that is driving their easing of lockdown measures. But to me changing too much too quickly isn’t going to end well. So I am still being cautious.

I will continue to keep up to date with the situation and what the government is saying. I will also listen to what advice and concerns are raised by other groups that are well informed and take that on board in making decisions about extending my services and range of products in the future. At the same time, being mindful that it may be necessary to pull things back and reduce what I do. The situation is fluid and being flexible is important going forward. Stay safe and stay sane.

The Environment And Me

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Like most people, I watched Blue Planet 2 with David Attenborough and was made very aware of the damage that plastic was doing to the environment. In particular, the problem of single use plastics, like packaging. For example the plastic that greetings cards come in. Like the ones I sell. I realised that I was part of the problem and needed to make a change. ‘But that was back in November 2017,’ I hear you say. ‘Why are you talking about it now?’. Because, although I made changes in the past, it is still important now. How things are packaged has become part of the thought process when thinking about making a purchase.

How things were

At the time that Blue Planet 2 came out, all my cards were in plastic to protect them from damage. No matter where I sold them. It was all the same if it was in person, online or at Edington Farm Shop, which stocks my cards. Please note that the farm shop is currently closed due to Coronavirus.

What I changed – the easy bits

The first thing I did was stop sending out my online orders in plastic sleeves. I send out my orders well packaged in ‘Please Do Not Bend’ envelopes, so the extra protection wasn’t really necessary. The next thing to consider was selling to people in person. The whole point of having them in plastic is so they don’t get damaged while people are looking at them. So my solution for this was to have a set of my cards in plastic that people can browse, but when they buy them, they get one without a plastic sleeve. 

What I changed – the less easy bits

That solution is fine selling them myself, but wouldn’t work for the shop environment. I could sell them loose, but they would get damaged and the envelopes would get separated. The first thing I did was to look into biodegradable packaging. I found varying reports of how long it would actually last for. Also they were more than 4 times the price of the plastic packaging. I know I shouldn’t put profits before the environment, but I am running a business, so I have to think about the financial side of thing every now and again. It wasn’t just about profits, but also about cash flow. How much I could afford to spend at that particular time. I decided to search for other solutions. As I had a good stock of plastic sleeves and I was using less of them already, I had time to see what I could find. 

I experimented with using card and paper bands to keep the card and its envelope together. This seemed to work for keeping them together. However, it didn’t help with the problem of protecting them as shoppers browsed them. So I kept thinking and experimenting and googling possible solutions. I kept coming back to the environmentally friendly plastic. I looked at different suppliers and finally found one that was only 3 times what I had previously paid for the plastic sleeves, if I bought double the usual amount. That was from Eco-Craft, so I placed an order with them. It would would reduce my profit, but I felt it was the right thing to do for the environment. Also, I reasoned that the more people that made the switch to green plastics, the more readily available they will become and hopefully they will become more affordable.

And so back to now

That all happened in 2018. I did intend to write a blog about it at the time, but alas, I didn’t get around to it. I now get my biodegradable sleeves from Redcliffe Imaging, which is where I get my cards printed. Does this mean that all my cards are now in biodegradable plastic? The answer is sadly no. Because of the seasonal nature of cards, and the fact that I am using a lot less of them, means that I still have some cards in old non-biodegradable sleeves. I feel it is better to use these up, as to not would be an even greater waste of plastic. I am sure there are more ways I can help the environment, and I will continue to look for ways of doing that going forward.

Online shop

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Hello, I hope you are all safe and well in these interesting times. I am delighted to say that my website now has it’s very own online shop so you can now buy direct from me.

This is something I have been working on for a long time, but I kept coming up against technical problems. Since moving my web hosting, things have been somewhat easier, although not without a certain number of challenges. In fact every problem I solved seemed to present me with at least one more challenge to overcome. But now it is done and ready for you to have a look at and, hopefully you will feel inspired to make a purchase.

Why set up my own shop?

I currently sell through Etsy so why set up my own webshop?

Well, one reason is that it will allow me to offer a wider range of products. With Etsy there is a listing fee for every item that is listed (regardless of whether the item sells, or not). So, with my own shop I can sell more items without having to worry about cashflow so much. Having my own online shop also allows me to offer my own deals, discounts and offers. While I can (and do) have offers and discounts from time to time with my Etsy store, the options are limited. With my own webshop I can offer discounts like 3 cards for £5.

Will I still be selling through Etsy?

As having a shop on my own website is so great, will I still be selling on Etsy? Yes, is the simple answer. The reason for that it has a much wider reach than I can (currently) achieve on my own site. People will find my work through Etsy that would otherwise not see it. It is also a name that people trust, which is an important thing when people are shopping online. So for the time being I will continue to sell my work through Etsy.

What can you find in my shop right now?

I am currently selling cards and unframed and unmounted prints. I haven’t extended my product range too much from what is available on Etsy. This is partly due to Covid-19 and to ensure that I have the capacity to cope with incoming orders. But I will add to my products over the coming weeks and months. What I can offer right now is discounts on cards. You can now buy 3 cards for £5, 6 cards for £10 or even 10 cards for £15. Just add the relevant coupon code in your cart or at the checkout: 3CardsFor£5, 6CardsFor£10 or 10CardsFor£15. Also until 22 June 2020 you can get 10% prints by using the coupon code 10%OffPrints.

Covid 19

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So I thought I should write something about how Covid 19 has affected me and my business. I should probably start by saying I know how lucky I am. Only one person I know has ended up in hospital with Covonavirus, and they are back home now and all is good. I know that so many other people have not been so lucky. I am also fortunate that my job doesn’t expose me to the risk of catching Covid 19 on a daily basis like NHS staff, carers and other keyworkers. 

And now for something completely different

Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down,
So won’t you take a minute, just sit right there,
I’ll tell you how I got stuck at home because of Covid-19
In West Wiltshire born and raise
Taking photos was how I spent most of my days
Checking apertures, exposures, and all
And shooting some photos that looked pretty cool
When this one bad virus that was up to no good,
Started making trouble in all our neighbourhoods
We got in one big fight and everybody was scared
And the WHO said stay inside and don’t go out there…

With apologies to DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. I just thought I would have a little fun with that to lighten the mood.

What has changed

When the lockdown in the UK started, I stopped selling prints of my work. I did this so I wouldn’t have to go to the post office to dispatch orders, as I felt it wasn’t worth the risk to anyone’s health, as I explained in a previous blog. I also stopped selling to countries outside the UK for the same reason. Obviously, I can’t go very far to take photos and I can’t take photos of people.

I decided that the best thing to do was to treat this as a unique opportunity. There was now time to do all the things I hadn’t done because I didn’t have the time. Also, I could use the time in a way which meant that when the lockdown was over, I wouldn’t have to spend anytime at home (unless I wanted too).

I tried to throw myself into work and carry on as though nothing had changed. I gave myself lots of tasks to keep myself busy. However, as time wore on, and the lockdown was extended I started to find it hard to get it all done. This seemed odd to me, I had the time to do it, so why couldn’t I just do it? I realised that it was because I was putting too much pressure on myself. This isn’t a time for getting stuff done, it is a time for looking after yourself and those you care about. Of course, keeping busy is a big help in dealing with these uncertain times, but there shouldn’t be any extra pressure to do more. And so I have taken a step back, and taken the pressure off myself, and by trying to do less, I am able to do more.

What I have been doing

I have planted potatoes and I’ve been clapping on a Thursday night with my neighbours. As you may have noticed, I have started blogging regularly (ish). There was a time when I had to fixed the toilet. I have re-designed my website. I have made a start on a project I’ve had in mind for about a year. I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking, probably too much, because thinking too much is something I am good at. But mostly I’ve been trying to look after myself and my other half, and those I care about, even if it’s only by checking that they are OK. Oh, and I’ve been drinking tea.A mug of tea, laptop and a DSLR camera

Hope going forward

It seems that things are getting better. All the Covid 19 numbers that we want to be seeing going down are. Of course it’s not over by a long way. However, things seem a little more hopeful and we can start to think about coming out on the other side. It might be a long way off, but we can still start thinking about it. I have started selling prints again. I am only selling relatively small unframed and unmounted prints. This is so I can just put them in a post box and not have to make a trip to the Post Office. I am still only selling to the UK. You can see what is available in my Etsy store. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please stay safe and I hope we will be able to play outside soon.

Photo shoot with The Lost Trades

The Lost Trades

Back in January, you know, before the world went crazy and we were allowed to interact with other human beings, I was lucky enough to do a photo shoot with new band The Lost Trades. Although the band was new, the band members were not. I’m not saying they are old, just that I already knew them. I have shot photos with two of them before, Phil Cooper and Jamie R Hawkins. The third member, Tamsin Quin, I had met at gigs in the past. Now they have combined their musical talents to form The Lost Trades.

The plan – as much as there was one

The band were filming a live video session with Dug at Bentham Studios. I went along to take photos while they were recording, and then do a photo shoot once they were finished.

What I wanted to capture was the sense of fun and enjoyment that they get from playing together. That was something that really came across and I wanted to show that in the images I did for them.

It was here that I was going to write about how I approach doing a photo shoot with a band. And I did. However, I soon realised that I had a lot I wanted to write about the subject. So, rather than getting away from the original point of this blog, I’ll write another one about it.

How the day went

A camera recording the Lost TradesI travelled to the studio with Phil, so upon arrival I did some roadying from Phil’s car into the studio. This was interspersed, with hellos, introductions and re-introductions. The next thing to happen was that tea was made, which I found very pleasing. The band and Dug set up while I took some shots, to get exposure levels and the feel for the layout of the room. I did my best not to get in the way and soon they were sound checking, with another round of teas.

The Lost Trades playing at Bentham StudiosIn the end I only took photos of them while they were sound checking and not when they were actually recording. I would have got in the way of the video cameras, probably put them off, and the sound of my shutter would have picked up in the recording. So while they recorded, I sat in the control room with Dug, listening to the beautiful harmonies and drank tea.

The photo shoot

Once they had finished recording, we used the lovely wood clad studio as a background. Taking a variety of shots, some very posed and almost formal.3 piece folk group The Lost Trades

Other shots were much more relaxed and casual. They could be considered ‘outtakes’, but it is those candid, unguarded moments that give an insight into the sense of enjoyment the band have when together.The band The Lost Trades

We then took things outside to add a bit of variety, so we made use of the surrounding open fields.Photo shoot with the lost trades

Next we took the opportunity to make use of what else was available around the studio, mainly an old piano.

This is the moment the piano was spotted.The Lost Trades pointing

Although you can’t go and see The Lost Trades live at the moment, you can still check them out and catch one of their live streams. You can also check out Phil’s, Jamie’s and Tamsin’s solo work as well.

In conclusion…

…tea was drunk…
The Lost trades drinking tea

… recordings were made…

…fun was had…

…photos were taken…

…and don’t forget to check out The Lost Trades.