It was only a matter of time until it happened, and the other week my eye caught a post on a Facebook group which had more red flags than a windy Cornwall beach, and generated a LOT of reaction.
The post was calling on freelancers who had their own video kit. It was offering them regular work, on regular projects. Initially it seemed the author was offering a lifeline to those fellow videographers who had been hit hard by the shutdown. On further reading it soon became a lot more sinister.
This post spoke of ‘an opportunity not to be missed’ followed by ‘a lifeline for those hit hard by the pandemic’.
The advert promised regular work - a fantastic opportunity to come through the last few months a little less this is good, but the post continued…
‘of course in these unprecedented times, you will be expected to offer us a much more competitive rate than usual in return of regular work’
And there we have it. Our ‘new normal’.
(For the record I hate this phrase but use it with irony)
We are about to hit a tidal wave of people trying this tactic.
This is no time to take advantage of those who have been hit hard. Having little or no work for a few months doesn’t mean we have suddenly forgotten our skills, our training and our economic viability.
Having work pulled away from us doesn’t devalue our skills. We are still the same talented people we were before this mess, and we will be long after it is all over.
It’s also a time when we, as a community of creatives need to stand firm and not be pushed to submission of taking any job because we so desperately need to get back to work.
Take it from someone who has been through a recession, who has taken the low hanging fruit out of desperation and been promised by potential clients of ‘bigger things’.
It won’t end well.
Actually, some of us have been using the time in lockdown to learn new things, new skills, new applications and new ways of working. If anything, I consider my value and the value of what I now offer my clients has increased.
As a creative, even in pre-pandemic times, it’s always a struggle to ensure your work is valued. It’s very easy to be sidelined as a ‘luxury’ service. Indeed I’ve experienced it as a photographer and videographer as well as a business owner. It’s all too commonplace for photos to be dropped out of budgets, someone in accounts has a camera and they can do a great job. It’s a common story, and it's a regular hot topic in discussion forums and online groups.
Video is traditionally perceived as a poor relation to photography - especially within markets like the live event and wedding worlds (how many people would drop their photographer and keep the video crew?)
In the last few months, it's pretty clear we’re not really seen even as a luxury anymore, we have almost become invisible.
It’s understandable that what people perceive as something non-critical would get sidelined when people are fighting for their livelihood.What we’re about to face as a community of creatives is something much more sinister than simply being sidelined.
We are going to see potential clients preying on the situation. Chancers, if you will, looking to get some ‘cheap labour’ to get that project done and dusted.
We must resist the temptation of being hung out to dry. Desperate times they are indeed for many, but your long term health, both mental and physical, as well as financial stability as a business will be affected long after the pandemic eases away.
This will affect the industry as a whole - setting an unsustainable precedent. We must not let this happen, or the long-term effects will be felt for many years to come.
Be strong. Stand firm. Value yourselves, and value each other.