COVID-19 has impacted us all in different ways, but perhaps the most dramatically affected have been those termed ‘extremely vulnerable’ by the government.
Creativity In The Time Of COVID.
An interview with Alanah Mills.
In occupational terms, some of the hardest hit have been freelance creatives, shorn of the security of concrete employment. I spoke to Alanah Mills, who has faced life in this most turbulent of years as part of both categories. She is a freelance fashion photographer, as well as someone who has had to isolate for months due to underlying health conditions. Alanah opened up about the realities facing freelance creatives during this precarious era, as well as her own struggles in an extended lockdown due to her extremely vulnerable status.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work?
Due to various health conditions I’m extremely vulnerable so initially wasn’t initially able to leave the house from the end of March. This meant I wasn’t able to do any shoots for a number of months. I had gone freelance only a few months before the pandemic and then had to turn down a lot of bookings and potential new clients. With life slowly returning so a sense of normality, it has felt like starting all over again. I’m lucky as I have my own studio in Manchester City Centre so have been able to return at my own pace, as lockdown has eased.
Do you feel that the events of Covid-19 will leave a lasting effect on the photography industry?
Definitely! Some people have been unlucky enough to lose their jobs because of this pandemic and many businesses have closed because of it. In particular it’s such a shame for small independent businesses who haven’t had adequate support.
What advice would you give to creatives who have been affected by the pandemic?
Keep creating, I’ve been doing a lot of test shoots alongside my paid work. It’s a great outlet for my creativity as I feel I can plan these more and tailor them more to my own tastes. It’s important to do work which makes you feel proud, and even if your freelance commissions have slowed down due to the pandemic, it’s important to get out there and create. You need to keep creating because if you leave that, your mental health will struggle because that’s who you are.
Did you take on any creative endeavours while you were isolating?
I focused on showing how the pandemic was affecting me through my images. I got back into doing self-portraits, something I haven’t done since I first started as a photographer. I feel I’ve grown a lot since then, and now my images have more meaning than they did then.
Would you say that the fashion world has been influenced by global events such as the Black Lives Matter movement?
I feel that in some ways, yes it is but I still feel more needs to be done. I have absolutely loved the efforts from businesses such as Pretty Little Thing, who did a great Pride campaign. It’s been great to see ASOS and H&M get involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. Things have changed for the better within fashion in recent years; there is a larger range of models of different ethnicities, shapes and sizes. However, I still feel more must be done, and there is a large amount of room for improvement.
Where do you find your inspiration for photoshoots?
I am an extremely creative person who has crazy ideas usually in the middle of the night. I absolutely love Pinterest for help with ideas, but I still think magazines do fashion best- I love Vogue and Dazed. It’s important to have a vision in your head on what it is you’re looking to achieve from a shoot, such as colour schemes and outfits you would like to use.
What are your hopes for the next 12 months of your career?
I just hope that things get back to normal. I hope to be shooting regularly, and that the world isn’t as scary a place as it has been in 2020.