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Running a Photography Business and Planning My Daughter's Bat-Mitzvah During the Coronavirus

This was supposed to be a celebratory blog post. The one where I get to tell everyone how excited I am about bringing back the Geoff Chesman Visuals brand and the relaunch of a new website to focus exclusively on the Bar and Bat-Mitzvah market.

However, like many people around the world right now, we are adapting to a new reality with the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus. I have been working from home for the last 10 years, so that has not been an adjustment for me. Having my wife and children home all day has definitely been a change. The first step in our home was to lay some ground rules to ensure we were all on the same team. Then, we had to make sure everyone had separate work spaces so that we can do the school or grown-up work that is needed to continue in this new normal.

The next step for me was focusing on my business. Or, at least, what was left of it. Like so many of my peers in the events industry, the cancellations and postponements came in waves as clients slowly started to realize that they would no longer be able to hold their events. The spring season is usually our busiest time of the year and we were anticipating a bigger than average event load. That is all gone now. It feels like the rug has been pulled out from underneath us. At this point all we can do is try to support our amazing team who have helped us grow through the first ten years of business as we all struggle to get through this. I am proud that we have been working with clients to accommodate their rescheduled events without exception.

I was so focused on the loss of business that it took me a while to admit that my own daughter’s Bat-Mitzvah, scheduled for April 18th, would also need to be cancelled. We knew that many people would no longer be traveling but we still held out hope that we would be able to conduct our own small service with our closest friends and family. When even these meager hopes were dashed it was like a punch in the gut. All of the planning we have done for the last year and a half and all of the studying my daughter has done to prepare for a full Torah and Haftorah reading. All gone. Unfortunately, I can now relate to exactly what my clients are going through at this time.

Dealing with all of this has been an emotional roller coaster in our house with some good days and some not so good. In the end, we have been able to use this time together to remind each other of what is truly important as we watch the effects of this pandemic on daily life. We are currently in the process of working with our synagogue to reschedule the service at a later date, but, for a variety of reasons, we will no longer be celebrating in the same way we had originally planned.

I have been a part of hundreds of celebrations for my clients over the last thirty years. I have watched as their children have grown up in front of my lens. I love that we have created long-lasting bonds with many families and that our images and videos will serve as lasting reminders of these momentous occasions in their lives. After watching from behind the camera for years, I was finally ready to be in front of the camera and ready to pass on the traditions and rituals of my ancestors to the next generation.

I look forward to the day when all of this has cleared and it is safe to gather and celebrate so we can devote the proper attention to my daughter, and to all of the young adults and their families who have had to reschedule their events.

Until then, stay safe and healthy.


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