A small photography company, who has had all photoshoot bookings cancelled for the foreseeable future due to the Coronavirus outbreak, has been raising money for frontline NHS workers through the sale of limited-edition prints.
|Photographer Katherine Gammon|
Based in the heart of Manchester, Katherine Elizabeth Photography specialises in photographing pole dancers and aerial artists around the country, from complete beginners to famous performers. Having built up a name for herself within the community, owner Kat Gammon spends much of her time travelling around the UK visiting different dance schools, shooting with the dancers who teach or study there. She also receives regular commissions for editorial work.
Since initially embarking as a freelancer straight out of university three years ago, Kat has been looking at how to take her small one-woman operation to the next level, with support from business advice service, Excelerate Labs.
Just before the Coronavirus restrictions came into effect, Kat had made the huge business decision of taking on her freelance assistant as a full-time employee. Contracts were signed, and her assistant handed in her notice at her job – and then the UK government announced social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions.
‘All my shoots have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and unfortunately, due to bad timing, I am unable to get any help for the government, as the date for furlough doesn’t cover my assistant’s start date’, says Kat.
‘Her previous employer has taken her on temporarily during this time, but only as a freelancer one and a half days a week, so they can’t furlough her, either’.
|An example of Kat’s work|
Not only this, but as Kat is the sole director of a limited company, she does not qualify for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme that was laid out by the Government, or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is the case for many directors like Kat, who have found that they fall outside the support net that has been put in place.
Taking these things into account, Kat knew that she had one option to keep her hard-earned business going: adapt to this new world which we have found ourselves in. Kat quickly put to use her array of photography skills, and began to edit photos from the safety of her own home, creating commissioned silhouettes for dancers using images from her signature smoke photoshoots – with part of the sales donated to the ongoing NHS effort to tackle to virus. The prints have proved very popular within the community, and Kat has raised over £300 so far.
|Kat’s smoke silhouettes have been raising money for the NHS|
‘When I was experimenting with my new ideas to do at home, I felt like I wanted to give something back. I didn’t want to just fund for myself, I wanted to help where I could too,’ says Kat.
‘The pole and aerial community have always been so kind to me and a lot of the clients who were messaging me with their words of support were frontline workers, many for the NHS.
‘I’m so proud of them for continuing their work when faced with such a scary task and still finding it in their hearts to show compassion for myself and others who are struggling with this new world.
‘It just felt right to donate part of the sales when I started the smoke silhouette commissions, it just came as part of the idea.’
Mike Marsden, Kat’s business advisor from Excelerate Labs, said:
‘Before lockdown, Kat was genuinely booked up for the year, and most of the business was repeat custom. That says an awful lot about how she has started the business, built great relationships, and developed her offer so her customers are delighted.
‘When the pandemic hit, I knew that Kat must have been hit the hardest.
‘However, Kat has pivoted the business, completely changed how she works, taken on a member of staff and is going to come out of this kicking and screaming. I am so pleased for her and cannot wait to watch her continued success!
‘We want to help more businesses! When this pandemic is over, we need people like Kat to drive the economy, to grow their businesses and take on employees.’
Despite the setbacks she has faced over the past few months, Kat is more determined than ever to continue to develop her business, and keep her employee in work.
‘Taking risks has been a huge part of growing and developing my business.
‘Even though I have taken a huge hit in hiring my first employee, I still hope in the future to embrace the hurdles I am face with, and continue taking risks!’
Excelerate Labs are part funded by European Regional Development Fund to support businesses in Greater Manchester. Continuing to work with local businesses shifting their model to continue to grow despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Excelerate Labs offers FREE professional business advice. To find out more contact firstname.lastname@example.org