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Businesses adapting to Covid-19

As work around the country dries up, two Brisbane-based photo businesses have adapted and come up with new ideas to keep the doors open. Fine art printer, Brilliant Prints (Bpro), is cutting transparent acrylic sheets for businesses to use as a protective barrier at a service counter; while the Maud Street Photo Gallery is showing a ‘virtual’ and interactive online exhibition of Scan by fine art photographer, Jeff Moorfoot.

Twenty Carat Love is a subset of a much larger body of work titled Legumes Morts – literally dead vegetables. Part of the exhibition, Scan. Photos: Jeff Moorfoot.

When Irena Prikryl, director of Maud Street Photo Gallery and the new Queensland Centre for Photography, was forced to cancel the showing of Scan in-person, she explored installing a virtual exhibition online.

Rather than installing a basic online gallery, where a viewer scrolls or slides passed images, Irena wanted to provide justice to Jeff’s work and incorporate design to make the exhibition interactive and more interesting. The problem was she only has a basic knowledge of IT and web design.

‘I am relatively new to the digital design medium and am self taught,’ Irena told Inside Imaging. ‘It took me a good week to put this virtual exhibition together because as I said, from an IT perspective I am not that efficient and everything took me a while. But I am getting better and I hope with each future exhibition the process will get quicker.’

The virtual exhibition features seven series of images. The audience can view each series, which is accompanied with a project statement, and the photos appear side-by-side but can also be enlarged for a close inspection. For someone without a background in IT, Irena has produced a polished presentation and demonstrates one approach to show photography in a more meaningful way online.

Rodents Mort, a series that’s part of Scan, by Jeff Moorfoot.

‘Having the opportunity to work with an accomplished artist such as Jeff Moorfoot made the job an absolute pleasure. Moorfoot’s art in real life is always presented in the best possible form and the virtual presentation needed to be on par with the actual presentations.

‘I approached the process first and foremost from the visual design language. I needed to articulate strong but not imposing background for Moorfoot’s art. The choice of black background for the whole exhibition appealed to me; it’s letting the art present itself, and it created a great marriage between The Maud Street Photo Gallery’s black-and-white signature look and Moorfoot’s art.’

Before COVID-19 came along and put a stop to social gatherings, the Maud Street Photo Gallery had scheduled Scan to run from March 26 – April 1, including an artist talk, master class, and a lecture. Without an artist talk, Irena wanted to create some sort of ‘virtual opening’, to provide context and background to Jeff and Scan.

‘I have overlayed the Artist statement and the Bio over the back of Jeff’s head image; in my mind, that’s where the statement came from, and I positioned the menus in front of him, as if it’s him speaking and presenting the exhibition to us.

‘In terms of the actual exhibition, Jeff made a part of the curating process easy for me, he knew Maud gallery from his previous show and he knew the order in which he wanted the images to be displayed, so I just followed his lead in the flow of the exhibition.

‘I am pleased with my achievement, that Jeff’s art in this virtual exhibition speaks for itself and is not lost amongst the digital clutter of menus and icons and page layouts, etc. I don’t think it’s all that much different from curating an actual exhibition at the Maud Gallery.’

Check out the exhibition here.

BPRO cuts acrylic for virus protection
BPRO offers ICEMount acrylics prints – a fine art photo print mounted between two Plexiglas acrylic sheets that provides a glossy and protected product.

‘We cut acrylic every day of the week for photography clients – free standing acrylic blocks for wall art,’ Liam Tovey, Bpro owner and founder, told Inside Imaging. ‘So we came up with the idea to market them alone as protective barriers to businesses and off we went. We designed one thinking we might sell one or two, but it’s gone quite ballistic – in just a couple days we sold over 100.’

The protective barriers are designed to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, or other bacteria and germs, when a business requires face-to-face contact with a customer. After realising there was a sudden burst of demand for the protective screens, Liam launched the website covidscreen.com.au. He’s not entirely sure where the idea came from, but is glad the prolab can manufacture a product that’s helpful to other businesses during the pandemic.

‘We’re still busy now with our work with pro photographers, because there’s a month or two delay between a photo shoot and when a client will order a product. We recently had a big staff meeting about cutting hours and redundancies, but now we’re working a Sunday shift to cut these sheets to try and keep up.

‘I’m under no doubt this will be short lived, as once every doctors surgery one they’re not going to want another. But it has helped tie us over for a few weeks.’

The protective barriers can be custom made, with Bpro using a CNC Router to cut the sheets to size, followed by a diamond polish to remove the frosting from the cut. A hand therapist has ordered sheets with circular cutouts, which will allow a patient to put their hands through during appointments, but the most popular product features a slot to slide paperwork through or pay by card.

‘We just had our best January, February and March ever. But we know at some point, clients are no longer shooting photography sessions and stop ordering. We’re fortunate that many of our clients have talked about buying new samples for their studios, or buying this personally. So hopefully that will carry us through a little bit. Interesting times.’

Check out the Bpro website here.

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