Clare Bowes Photo

Interview: Clare Bowes


Ouseburn/Gosforth, Newcastle

Natural light Family, People and Product Photographer

How has your business/organisation been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown?

• Worked from home but in a different way than usual
• I normally shoot from home or on location, so at the start there were no dramatic changes. Family shoots were obviously off the menu, but product clients just kept posting their stuff as normal, some clients were very quick off the mark and even brought out new products specifically FOR lockdown! My husband’s a teacher so childcare wasn’t an issue at the start, though he’s now back at work full time, and though one of my children is back at school three days a week, I still have one at home which has made working much more of a challenge.

What have been the biggest challenges for you during the lockdown whether logistical, financial, etc.?

My income has halved due to the covid crisis – but I feel like the financial help from the government has made up most of my lost earnings. I know that that won’t be the same for everyone and have been lucky to get any work at all. The most recent challenge is definitely trying to be Mum and Teacher as well as trying to get into a creative flow with my work all at the same time (I’ve found it impossible tbh) and just had to adapt so done more shoots at weekends or when my husband comes back in the afternoon… not ideal, but feel lucky that I’m so flexible.

What are the biggest challenges coming out of the lockdown?

On the family photography side of things, I think there will definitely be confidence issues… people might still be wary about having a photographer come into their home for quite some time, although I expect more shoots will happen outside… Family photography is seen as a bit of a luxury at the best of times, so with more job losses expected and recession on its way there may well be a dip in this side of things.

Have you had to start selling in a different way than usual for example a bar or restaurant selling beer or food online?

No, nothing’s really changed for me, other than the volume of products I shoot. Because I’ve had a lot less time than usual I’ve always made sure that pictures weren’t urgent so I didn’t feel under tonnes of pressure to deliver straight away, which I normally do. All clients have been totally understanding, and grateful that I can shoot at all!

If applicable how important has any funding (arts, government, etc.) been to keep going and was it hard to get hold of?

I found the SEISS government grant extremely easy to get hold of… the form was simple, it was well publicised so all self employed people knew about it and it arrived quickly. I really feel for people that haven’t been in business for three years.

Was your type of business one of the ones that fell through the cracks in funding opportunities?

No, fortunately.

How much has support from the community been important such as people buying local, supporting crowdfunders, etc.?

There’s such a wonderful, talented group of creatives in the North East and I’ve always found this community to be extremely supportive. When one of my clients went out of business at the start of lockdown we were as a community were just devastated for them. In terms of my own local clients – I really can’t ask for better and have been amazed that they’re still making, being creative, bringing out new products under such crazy circumstances, and I’ve been very grateful for the work!

Have you or are you having to adapt to new ways of working such as moving your business online or doing classes, events or seminars by Zoom or similar?

Not really, as mentioned already how I work hasn’t really changed. The circumstances (having the children at home while I’m trying to work) has definitely been the thing I’ve had to adapt to most. For product photography clients, I’ve pretty much always offered a remote service, so clients can just post things for me to photograph, then I can snap it and post it back, it’s always worked really well and people post stuff to me from all over the North East, as well as London, Oxford etc…

If you are using a new selling platform or platforms for products, bookings, vouchers, etc. please specify

No new selling platform though I did have chance to spruce up my website in lockdown!

What are the digital tools that you have you been using or are intending to use?

• Instagram