Being self-employed, running an independent business, making a living through doing the things you love most in the world... From the outside it can look pretty rosy. But when the pandemic hit, self-employment and small business ownership suddenly started to look like a gamble that hadn't paid off. Overnight, many of us found ourselves facing absolute uncertainty, with the specific nuances of our businesses being affected differently depending on our set-ups: some were eligible for grants, some had understanding landlords, some relied on Universal Credit. Many of us found ourselves without the safety net of furlough, paid holidays or even knowing whether our industries would survive the pandemic, left to make huge decisions that would not just impact our families' & customers' wellbeing but our businesses for years to come.
It's difficult to imagine what lockdown might have felt like with a regular income, without the worry of having many days with no business income whatsoever, without the pressure of having to hold almost weekly existential talks about what our future might look like, or with the security of knowing that at least we'd be able to afford to take time off for a holiday when all this was over.
The words "evolve", "shift" and "adapt" have been pushed to their limits here at Century over the past few months. On the whole, we realised how resilient we are, how we managed to make some pretty sweet lemonade out of the sourest lemons (that's a This Is Us reference for anyone who loves that doctor as much as we do) in the form of care packages. More than anything, that focus on doing something positive for frontline workers kept us connected to the world at a time when we felt completely isolated and, to be honest, abandoned in terms of our son's disability services disappearing overnight. The positivity and support from all of you lovely people got us through. Even as we move into this next phase, it's with a high dose of insecurity about what the next months might bring, but we'll just keep doing our best.
Our story is mirrored across the world of people working for themselves: thinking on their feet; shifting priorities; making it work. This new blog series, 'Shift', features some of our favourite people, and how they've adapted their businesses throughout the pandemic. First up is Lina Hayes, a photographer based in Edinburgh. If you've ever seen a photo on our Instagram feed that looks absolutely beautiful, it was probably taken by Lina in the shoot she did for us. Lina sent this to us back in May, in the middle of lockdown.
Over to you, Lina!
I'm a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Edinburgh. I moved to Scotland one year ago and it has been a highlight of my life to be a photographer in this incredible country! My photography business was created after a serious car accident several years ago, where I had a lot of spare time to contemplate what had happened and what I wanted my life to look like. I craved a creative lifestyle, where I could make my own decisions based on my values. Photography felt like the perfect way to combine my passions for landscapes, travel and people. After years of shooting different genres, I've found my happy niche in photographing small weddings and working with people and businesses that share similar values and ethics to me.
Right now in lockdown, life feels like it has been turned upside down again. But like that car accident many years ago, this pandemic also sparks another opportunity to grow and adapt.
The initial few weeks of lockdown were unlike anything I had experienced before. I never imagined that weddings and photography could shut down overnight, and my income could stop so quickly. After the initial shock, I shifted my attitude to focus on what I could control and do with this time to keep my business and mental health progressing. I made an effort to minimise my exposure to the news and found everyday rituals that would bring small bursts of joy to what sometimes felt like very long days at home. These rituals included baking, enrolling in short educational courses, practicing a second language, and appreciating the pockets of nature throughout Edinburgh on my daily walks. All while keeping in mind that some days can be extremely overwhelming in times like these, and sometimes it's ok to do absolutely nothing. It's all about balance.
I've enjoyed witnessing the heightened sense of community throughout Edinburgh during this lockdown. Despite living in my apartment building for over a year, I've only just recently learnt the names of my neighbours, after we all made an effort to check in on each other.
Although weddings aren't on the cards right now (edit: this was written in May, so please check the current guidelines, though if you're planning a wedding I'm sure you're already keeping up to date!), I've been working on different guides and planning resources to inspire couples to create a more meaningful and conscious celebration (you can find these on my website). Since so many of us are spending extra time at home, this has been a great time for clients to print their favourite photos or finally get around to planning those wedding albums.
I believe this lockdown is an opportunity to ask questions and think about what sort of normal we want to return to. Can we use this as an opportunity to rethink how we do things, how it can be done differently in the future and if we can create a better world for all of us?
If there are lessons that we can learn from this, I believe they would be on how we can build stronger communities going forward and how we can support small businesses outside of pandemic times too. Most importantly, this pandemic has shown us that it is ok to take some time to slow down from our busy lives and appreciate nature and our surroundings, no matter where in the world you are.
You can also get in touch through my website - https://linahayes.com/
Thanks so much Lina! Especially love that last photo, of the recent elopement wedding you shot after lockdown. If you don't already, go follow Lina on Instagram. It's one of our favourite accounts for showcasing the wonders of Edinburgh and Lina's distinctive, dreamy photos are a daily reminder of how beautiful this planet is.