"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" - From 'To a Mouse' by Robert Burns
The new norm is, in some ways, just like an old norm for me since I was based in Japan and traveling in Asia during the 2003 SARS epidemic. However, it's pretty clear that in terms of scale and destruction, COVID-19 will be far worse than SARS and far worse for our industry, photography, so often based on travel and social interactions. I was joking with my wife that I just bought a 200-500mm lens before the pandemic hit, a lens perfectly suited for social distancing. Having spent the past 30 years jumping onto planes and flying around the world to work, I am definitely questioning whether that life will ever come back and if it should.
However, I'm also an optimist at heart and know this, too, shall pass, although the world will be changed. Our expectations will be greatly altered, hopefully for the better. I think the days of nonchalantly hopping on a flight to cover an event in China for 5 days and then flying home are over, at least for the next few years. Work will be more local, smaller in scale, and with smaller budgets for the near future. I've been pushing hard into industrial photography in recent years and that work continues with recent shoots in an oil refinery and an upcoming shoot for the US Navy. Both deemed essential, and do not require working indoors or near people.
Also considered essential? News media assignments. I've been getting pretty steady work the past month from The Washington Post, including a recent shoot at ventilator maker Ventec Life Systems, based near Seattle. Here I am wearing a mask before they became fashionable, and getting a temperature check before entering the facility. Years of working as a photojournalist, often in remote and dangerous places, has taught me some excellent survival skills, the most important being, be prepared for anything, be ready to adapt or toss out how you think an assignment will go , work slowly and methodically and, plan, plan, plan. Then have a backup plan.
And, of course, wash your hands.