Arts and COVID: Life as a Canberra photographer during a pandemic

Photographer Keegan Carroll saw all of his work disappear during COVID. Picture: Karleen Minney

Photographer Keegan Carroll saw all of his work disappear during COVID. Picture: Karleen Minney

Life before COVID-19 was pretty busy for photographer Keegan Carroll.

He spent his time shooting for the NRL in Canberra - both at games and at events - as well as for Softball ACT. On top of that, he had just started working with a friend's business, Timeless Creations, which had him photographing weddings and real estate.

But by the time COVID-19 hit, he might as well have locked his camera gear up, because he couldn't use it.

"It actually all started off with the start of the year with the bushfires happening and events were cancelled due to the smoke," Mr Carroll said.

"Once COVID hit, it slowly dropped off for the first month and then after that was like a steep decline where basically everything shut down.

"No weddings were happening. All the footy got moved to Campbelltown. So basically all the photography work I had ceased."

And when it did come back, it came back with differences.

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Wedding photo shoots would usually have negotiations with the couple such as how much of bridal preparation they wanted captured. Now the conversation included how close did they want the photographer to get.

"You're always concerned of people who come from out of state," Mr Carroll said.

"It's always a thought in the back of your head that someone rocks up with COVID and now I'm working close with this couple.

"You try not to think too much about it because it kind of stops your process. You want to be close to the couple, but you don't want to just be shooting with a long lens the whole wedding."

When the NRL returned, there were differences as to how and where Mr Carroll could photograph.

Depending on the week, Mr Carroll was either allocated to the "dirty" zone or the "clean" zone.

"If you're in the dirty zone, you sat outside the field and basically photograph in the first row of stands. If you're in the clean zone, you had to enter through a certain entrance, the same as the players do," he said.

"Our shoes had to be disinfected, our gear had to be disinfected, we had to wear gloves and a mask.

"We weren't allowed anywhere near the players and we could only go from the field to the media room and that was it."

As for the NRL events Mr Carroll once photographed - such as charity nights - they didn't go ahead during the 2020 season and therefore there was nothing to shoot.

Luckily for Mr Carroll, he had a second job that still brought in income during COVID-19. However, 2020 had put a delay in him taking on photography full time.

"I think it's slowly getting there. But for me there's always that fear of all of a sudden there will be a huge spike and then we could be back to basically having no work," he said.

"It's a little different for me because I do most of my work for other people.

"Mark, who I work for at Timeless Creations, if he doesn't get as many weddings, he scales back and ... the less weddings he has, the less I have."

  • This article is part of the Displaced Artists Project. The Canberra Times has reached out to artists in different fields to see how COVID-19 has impacted them.
This story Camera shutter: life as a photographer during a pandemic first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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