“We absolutely felt like we had a responsibility to keep our fans updated and connected,” Boston Red Sox Senior Manager of Photography Billie Weiss told me while reflecting on his team’s 2020 storytelling strategy.
Now, Billie is sharing his outlook for the year ahead in our new guide, The Photographer’s Outlook on 2021.
The guide celebrates the resilience of photographers after a year of challenges. Inside you’ll find out:
- How photographers fueled their businesses in 2020
- How industry leaders from organizations like the Boston Red Sox and Photoville adjusted their plans
- Tips and insights on how to be successful in 2021
Check out some of the highlights from Billie’s Q&A with me below, and download the full guide to get more insights from fellow photographers.
Caitlyn: How did you and the Red Sox photo team have to adjust this year? Did you feel a certain pressure to keep fans updated and/or uplifted during the earlier days of the pandemic?
Billie: This was definitely a tough year for us. The primary adjustment we had to make was working within the new safety parameters and limitations for access implemented due to Covid. As team photographers, we are used to having all-access into places others can’t be, like the locker room, weight room, tunnels, and dugout, but that wasn’t really a possibility this year given the new rules. Unfortunately, I was the only member of our content team that had on-field access, so the other shooters and content creators on our team had to get very creative as far as what they were able to do from six rows back in the stands. Even with the access I had, I had to be extra cautious about proximity and exposure to players.
We absolutely felt like we had a responsibility to keep our fans updated and connected. Much like the rest of the world, during the very early days of the pandemic, we really had no clue what was going on or how things would play out. But after a few weeks, we realized we couldn’t just remain silent as a brand and with our presence on social media just because baseball wasn’t happening. We believed that as a sports team, it was our responsibility to provide our fans with uplifting, interesting content to keep them engaged with the team and to serve as a source of entertainment/distraction from the day to day uncertainty of the pandemic. We were able to do so in the form of infographics, Zoom interviews with players, at home activities for kids, deep dives into our photography archives and evergreen Fenway Park content.
What were the biggest lessons you learned from your 2020 adjustments?
The key takeaway for us is that it’s still possible to make high quality content even with a limited staff, limited resources, and limited access. It just means being smarter and more efficient in making our asks, setting goals, and executing.
Going forward, we think this mentality will allow us to be more strategic when it comes to deciding which projects to pursue and staying laser focused on the core elements of our overall brand. With no fans in the seats, this season served as a good reminder that photography as a medium is extremely powerful, and gives others a view into the team’s world that they otherwise wouldn’t have. So it’s important to keep doing it – no matter what the circumstances are!
On a personal level, I’d love to know more about your YouTube channel. From what I’ve seen it’s really taken off and I wonder if that’s something you think you would have had time to pursue had the pandemic not happened.
Starting a YouTube channel has definitely been a goal of mine for a while now, but it always just felt like a stretch given how busy day to day life can be. Once things slowed down, though, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try it, so I dove in. It’s been a challenging process and a labor of love so far, but I’ve really enjoyed figuring out the platform and growing the channel slowly but surely. I’ve always loved that photography has allowed me to connect with so many people and given me an opportunity to help others interested in photography, and the channel just provides me with another platform to do so. Now that the channel has a solid foundation, I’m really excited to keep it growing into the future.
Check out one of Billie’s latest videos on his predictions for 2021 below!
Download the free guide to see the full Q&A, along with survey results and predictions from more than a thousand photographers on the year ahead.
Cover photo by Billie Weiss.