While We Wait

Staying Fresh, Staying Connected

Looking back at 2020, looking forward to 2021

A personal essay by Steve Nelson, one of the FayFoto Boston team.

What does an assignment-based corporate photographer do to stay connected with his or her tools and craft during an extended season in which there are… very few assignments?

As we approach the end of 2020, a lot of service providers continue to face that question.

There were of course opportunities to do home improvement projects, and I did plenty of those. But my personal identity is bound to my career as a photographer, and I settled on that career because I derive immense satisfaction from creating images. Especially collaboratively, with others.

When it became clear that this Pandemic wasn’t going to be a week or two thing I started, and stuck with, a photo of the day discipline, posting daily to a small audience on Instagram. This was intended to keep me connected to and proficient with my tools.

This discipline has proven to be satisfying creatively, but it is very different from the experience and business of portrait and product photography. Flowers and trees don’t have opinions about what they look like, or would like to look like.

So I reactivated a dormant project – setting up environmental portraits of friends. These were very deliberate portrait sessions, not casual candids. I admit I was uncomfortable asking, given the prevailing concerns surrounding contagion, but no one I asked declined. On the contrary, I was surprised to find that most seemed to welcome the request.

This informal project, unencumbered by the constraints of consistency and uniformity we adhere to for repeat clients, has given me an opportunity to experiment with lighting, and to adapt to different location situations.

Asking a friend to sit for a portrait is unusual. For me anyway.

Every one of these sessions feels a little weird initially, but I know this personal stretch will benefit my commercial work when that resumes.

Speaking of resuming… When you and your team are ready to resume, you can bet I’ll be ready. Please reach out. I have a good mask, and I’m ready to go!


six examples of informal environmental portraits
Environmental portraits of some of Steve Nelson’s friends taken during the extended business slowdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.