Goa B-school floats program for food photographers, bloggers.. Image Source: IANS News

Panaji, May 12 : With restaurants and the food and beverage industry floundering in wake of the pandemic, Goa's photographers and bloggers specialising in food, are learning to adapt to the new normal by tweaking their sales pitch and their budgets.

"Shoots have been more streamlined, with more adherence to sanitisation and safety, in terms of preparing meals and other related chores for photoshoots and promotions. Clients have also become more restricted due to budget constraints, which has led to a drastic fall in earnings per shoot," says Sankalp Malik, a Goa-based food and architecture photographer.

While the first step to adapt to the new Covid-inspired normal involves cutting down on fees, holding on to clients in dire times like the pandemic, also helps build longer relationships, Malik says.

Siddesh Mayenkar, also a Goa-based food photographer, has faced the Covid impact in his pet trade, with the pandemic cutting down on footfalls in restaurants and the numerous restrictions and lockdowns, either resulting in shutdowns of eateries or severely limiting their marketing spends.

"Covid has changed everything around the world and had a devastating effect on photography as well. The market for food and hospitality has completely crashed and as business is down most of the hotels don't want to spend money," Mayenkar says.

Goa's restaurant industry is one of the worst hit by the pandemic, with the tourist footfalls falling drastically in the state over the last few months. While the state witnessed a mini-tourism resurgence through December to March, the emergence of the second Covid wave has resulted in a lockdown in the state and severe restrictions imposed on tourists travelling to Goa. According to the latest Economic Survey report the state has more than 56,000 registered hotels and resorts.

As per the latest lockdown norms, restaurants have been directed to halt in-house dining, but kitchens and home deliveries have been allowed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to Parixit Pai Fondekar, founder of the Kamaxi College of Culinary Arts, while the pandemic has grounded food and beverage industry budgets for mainstream marketing, there is still scope for food bloggers to break new ground.

"The pandemic has forced many businesses to go almost entirely online. Food bloggers and photographers have had to cut down on reviewing and promoting restaurants and travelling, and focus on other aspects of their work - affiliate marketing, PR, sponsored posts, contests and giveaways, selling merchandise. Food collaborations, virtual tips and kitchen hacks, recipes are other ways they are generating content even while quarantined or in lockdown," Fondekar said.

The state's top B-school, the Goa Institute of Management, has also tied up with a culinary educational institute to come up with a special culinary and kitchen incubator to allow food bloggers and photographers to enhance their craft.

Fondekar's institute, last month, tied up with the Goa Institute of Management's (GIM) Atal Incubation Centre to conduct one of the country's first culinary and kitchen incubation programme, which aims at providing edge infrastructure and dedicated support to culinary start-ups and upcoming 'foodpreneurs', including bloggers and photographers specialising in food.

According to Rajesh Joshi, chief executive officer of GIM's incubation centre, the programme will provide food bloggers and photographers access to mentors and domain experts along with market and customer support.

"The access to a mentor and domain experts will enable them to move up a notch and convert this hobby into a profession. We will provide access to market and customer support to these professionals," Joshi said.

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