Russia’s War in Ukraine Will Leave a Lasting Scar on the Photography Industry 

A week into the war, many start to ask about the long-term impacts of the war. As a Ukrainian-born writer with family and friends in Ukraine, I am keeping a very close eye on the news surrounding the war. A war on such a grand scale will have a profound impact on most industries, photography included. Here is my analysis of how this war will echo in photography.

Before going further, I would like to acknowledge that many more important things are happening in the world than photography. The Russian invasion of Ukraine will have wide-reaching consequences on tens of millions of people and not just photography. Yet, since Fstoppers is a photography publication and I am a writer covering photography, I will focus only on how this full-scale war is affecting the photography industry.

Gear Import, Export, and Sales

Buying cameras or any other camera gear will likely become more difficult as companies cut exports of their products into Russia. As companies such as DHL cut their shipping to Russia, it will be more difficult to get new stock for Russian camera shops. Moreover, the more the Russian ruble loses its value, the fewer people will be buying new gear. Camera sales will take a dramatic hit in the countries directly affected by the war. Moreover, as more and more companies announce sanctions on Russia, it would not be surprising if photography brands stopped shipping to Russia as the world distances itself. Moreover, companies producing gear in Ukraine will face difficulties with running their business due to the ongoing war. It would not be unusual to find factories that make gear and offices looted or destroyed.

Creative Jobs in the Region

Being a hotspot for many ad campaigns, as well as a major market for luxury goods, Russia is a known destination for many people who wish to work in the creative industry. Unfortunately, the ongoing war has rendered most creative non-existent jobs, and many creatives, such as Amer Mohamed, are leaving the country for good. Furthermore, the commercial photography sector will take a massive hit as international brands pull out of Russia during the war. It is also worth noting that the creative industry in Ukraine and Russia overall will see a steady decline as the war continues.

Productions

Ukraine has an extremely strong and powerful production business. There have been countless Hollywood movie productions and music clips shot in Ukraine and Kyiv. The reason Ukraine is a popular destination for productions is because of an incredible rental as well as production crew network. The workforce, as well as other costs, are a lot lower in countries such as Ukraine or Russia. Naturally, due to the ongoing war, it will not be possible to facilitate any movie or photo sets, which will lead to logistical challenges as well as increased costs. Additionally, producing in Russia will also be challenging because of the current ban on travel in the EU and US airspace.

Programmers and Software Developers

Both Russia and Ukraine are known very well for their IT strength. Some of the most popular jobs in Ukraine among young university graduates are in the IT sector. This means that a lot of companies in the photography and videography sector rely on software developers in both countries for their work. A temporary shortage of software developers is bound to slow down how fast updates are released and new products are developed. Companies such as Luminar have already published statements of support for Ukraine as well as statements of support for their teams in Ukraine.

Photographer Deaths

There are civil consequences in every conflict. Yet, with the Russia-Ukraine war, unarmed civilians are the intended targets of an army. There will certainly be a lot of creatives who will give their lives in the war, either fighting or photographing. Although according to international conventions, press members, such as photographers, are not allowed to be targeted, there have already been photographers who died as a result of this war.

Retouchers

As far as I know, most good retouchers come from Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus. The quality of work produced by these people is unparalleled, and the world’s leading photographers such as Lindsay Adler, are known to use retouchers from Ukraine and Russia. My retouching crew consists of Russians and Ukrainians. Ukrainian retouchers are fighting for their lives, while some Russian retouchers will not be able to accept payments as easily as before due to Russian banks being disconnected from SWIFT. Moreover, a lot of jobs have had to be put on hold because of this. There will be delays and major problems for a large portion of fashion and beauty photographers such as myself who work with people from Russia/Ukraine/Belarus.

Laws on Photography

It is currently prohibited to fly drones unless authorized by authorities in Ukraine. Moreover, taking pictures can be seen as espionage. Seeing that there is a crackdown on media in Russia in general, amateur photography can be sometimes perceived in all the wrong ways by an adult paranoid regime. It is fair to say that the ongoing war will take a negative effect on photography clubs, and photographers from these countries in general.

Prison Sentences

The traditionally left-leaning creative industry in Russia is likely to face crackdowns by the government as more and more photographers, directors, and artists express their support for Ukraine. Being illegal in Russia, some photographers can find themselves behind bars, serving a prison sentence.

Recession

While I am not an economist, it is speculated that this war will lead to an increase in prices and hence a decrease in budgets for photoshoots. What COVID-19 has shown is that the jobs don’t disappear, but they do become smaller and budgets tighter. While the war in Ukraine is not likely to cause a worldwide recession, it will be a contributing factor to the damage already caused by COVID.

Russian Arm Being Renamed Into U-Crane

To end on a more or less positive note, I want to share that cinema rental companies stand with Ukraine! Developed and built, in Kyiv, Ukraine, this robotic arm is used to film action and chase scenes. The company that invented this device: Filmotechnic, has officially rebranded its product into U-Crane.

Closing Thoughts

These are only a few other consequences of the war in Ukraine, these particular ones are directly linked to the photography and creative industry. While it may seem that the war in Ukraine won’t affect someone across the pond, truth is, it will, albeit slightly.

What are some of the effects of the Russian war in Ukraine that you see? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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