Mathieu Degrotte of Md-Art.com tells us about photography and innovation.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mathieu Degrotte: I am lucky to have stayed safe, as well as my family during this past year. We were very careful, my parents being in their 70s and me and my partner living close to them, we tried to avoid getting out as much as possible during the worst times. Luckily all my relatives that have been infected recovered well, and I try to keep close to them and bring hope to my family and loved ones.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Md-Art.com.
Mathieu Degrotte: I am today a full-time photographer and did quite a journey to get there. I graduated in engineering, and during my studies, I did a 2-months photojournalism internship in Nepal, which ignited my will to make photography a job and not only a hobby. After my first engineering job, my company had difficulties, and I had to leave, and then I took a year off to ponder whether I was going to jump into photography or not. After meeting my partner, who is a freelance make-up artist, I decided to quit engineering for photography, and now I am doing this job with joy every day.
How does Md-Art.com innovate?
Mathieu Degrotte: I do event/wedding photography, company shots, and fine-art photography. I want to use my artistic mind to deliver to customers unique and original pictures to have never-dying memories of their life or make pictures for customers that are never seen.
I work on personal photo projects mixing different types of art (painting, poetry, photography), and the main innovation I work on is to deliver new concepts that make people think and rediscover the world and themselves. During the 2020 lockdown, I initiated a project where people could illustrate their lives during the lockdown through 1 photograph.
I also want to expand my reach by offering video as well as photography and invested in a drone to keep up with modern technology and get new tools to expand my business.
Innovation was the keyword for me during this last year.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Mathieu Degrotte: I am very affected by the covid-19 pandemic. In terms of event photography, more than 60% of my weddings have been postponed to 2021 or 2022, and thus I have a big gap in my finances. On the artistic point of view, in France, museums and exhibitions have been shut down for months, and this second part of my work is also dreadfully impacted. I planned 2 exhibitions for November 2020, and both were cancelled just days before the opening. But I want to keep hope and use this time to reflect on the way I do my job and create pictures, and make more innovations in the future.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Mathieu Degrotte: I already leaned on digital ways to get in touch with my customers, and this was even more true during the pandemic. I worked a lot on my photography blog to develop new ideas and touch more people through my website. I invested in digital marketing services but also created local links with businesses such as restaurants or hostels where I could exhibit some photographs. Using digital tools efficiently, without forgetting local links, and giving customers the content they want are my main tools today.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Mathieu Degrotte: I am lucky to be part of the businesses that can benefit from the French grant that go to the event sector. This helped me going through the difficult months when I had no wedding, no exhibition, and almost no other orders. Without this grant, I think my business couldn’t have made it through the pandemic, and I am happy with those measures taken by the French government.
Your final thoughts?
Mathieu Degrotte: These difficult times made me think about how important innovation is for all businesses. Every company had to adapt, from restaurants offering click and collect to museums and also freelancers like me. Go beyond the dark times and see opportunities to change and get better are my advice to all those struggling because of Covid-19.
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