Photography and Videography Resources to Check out During Social Isolation

Published March 24, 2020

Self-quarantine has left many of us in a state of boredom, and even more of us in a state of uneasiness. This is no easy time for most of us, and so we wanted to provide you with some resources to help you financially, help you sharpen your skills, or even just help you cure some of your boredom while we hunker down and wait for this all to blow over. As a result, I’ve compiled a list of different services available to help with you any struggle you might have during this Covid-19 outbreak. Please take the time to follow the CDC and WHO guidelines, and while we wait for this to pass, please take a look at some of the resources compiled below.

Financial Resources

Perhaps the scariest part of all of this is what it will do to our industry in the coming months. Many of our readers are self-employed photographers and videographers, and even more may have already been laid off or lost work to this pandemic. While we all take our time to process these missed opportunities, it’s essential to keep your financials intact. Many local communities have come together to help creatives at this time, so here is a short list of resources we’ve found that might be able to help you.

State Unemployment and Relief Funds

Funds and resources available will vary by state, but the Department of Labor has links to all applicable web pages organized by state here.


If you’re an independent filmmaker, especially in the documentary genre, now is a great time to learn how to write a grant proposal. There are a ton of resources available, but StudioBinder has the best getting started guide I could find, including templates, a grant database, and sample grants.

Creative Capital

Creative Capital is a non-profit founded in 1999. Their goal is to help connect artists of all types, including photographers, musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists, to funding resources. They have a list of available resources specifically related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This list will continue to be updated as more resources become available.

Educational Resources

Looking at this positively, there is no better time than now to sit down and learn a new skill or sharpen the skills you already have. Consider taking this downtime to learn a new technique to help your workflow when we all get back to work. Whether it’s sharpening your retouching skills, or even just learning about how to get started in videography, we’ve compiled a list of resources available for free or heavily discounted for the time being.


The Professional Photographers of America have released their entire catalog of education resources for free for the next two weeks. Create an account for access here.


SkillShare offers classes taught by working professionals on a wide variety of creative and professional topics, including photography, video, design, marketing, and business analytics. New users can get a free two-month trial right now. If you don’t know where to start, I think just about anyone could stand to learn a few design principles from Aaron Draplin.

Adobe Creative Cloud

COVID-19 Adobe CC Cheap

Adobe has made Creative Cloud accessible for free for students and educators through May 31st, 2020. Read more and request access through this link. For those of us who aren’t students, Adobe is also running a promotion that gives two months free access to any account holder, but it’s a little more difficult to access. Petapixel has a detailed explainer on how to activate the promotion.


Qualified users will be given free 90-day licenses for Avid’s professional software, including Media Composer, Pro Tools, and Sibelius. Check this PDF to see if you qualify.

Davinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve COVID-19

While Blackmagic isn’t running any particular discounts or promotions right now, the basic version of their Davinci Resolve software is always free, and there are surprisingly few limitations on the free version. No watermarks or time limits, just some minor feature differences. Download it here.


Frame.io, a remote review service we use and love for Lensrentals’ in-house video production, is offering 2TB of extra storage for all users through the end of March 2020. They’re also offering free enterprise plans to educational institutions, non-profits, and healthcare organizations. Read more details and apply here.


Every piece of 3D design software from Autodesk, including Maya, an industry standard for 3D animation, and Fusion 360, the CAD platform Lensrentals uses for all our 3D printing design, come with free 30 day trials by default. Even more generously, Autodesk offers free 3-year licenses to all students.


Lynda hosts tutorials on a wide range of subjects from software, to coding, to business, to music lessons. They always have a 30-day free trial, but I’m going to let you in on an additional secret. Many libraries have Lynda accounts that you can use for free, which brings me to…


You know those dream co-working spaces where you can share real estate, information, and resources with fellow creative people in a peaceful environment? They already exist, and you already pay for them! If you don’t have a library card (you should), most libraries will let you apply online for digital-only access. In addition to free educational resources like Lynda.com, you’ll be able to access countless e-books and audiobooks. Seriously, if there’s even one positive thing that comes out of this mess, I hope it’s that people start taking better advantage of libraries.


For the next week, our friends over at PROEDU have put together a sale on all of their tutorial series. While you’re cooped up inside, consider learning how to create dramatic portraits with Chris Knight, or learning the ins and outs of commercial retouching with Sef McCullough.


CreativeLive is also an incredible resource for those who are looking to sharpen their skills during these times. Recently changing their format, CreativeLive now offers nearly all of its content for only $39 a month under their Creator Pass, which is a great price to learn from some of the best and most talented people within the photo industry. You can look into their Creator Pass here.


Looking for some side work to collaborate on, but not sure where to start? Hitrecord is your place. It’s a database of people with creative projects that are looking for a hand. You might find a short film that needs a score, some animation that needs voice work, a screenplay that needs proofreading, just about anything. To be clear, Hitrecord is NOT a place to find paid work. Contributors are paid when the things they make generate a profit, but that’s not the point of the whole deal. The point is to exercise your creative muscles by collaborating with other people on the kinds of projects you might not get to work on otherwise.

Fun Resources

Now that we’ve gotten you sharpened up on some new skills and hopefully gotten you started on some financial stability during these times, we’d also recommend you take some self-isolation time to find a new activity that might be worthwhile during these times. Below is a series of recommendations from movie script databases to interesting documentaries services available.

Curiosity Stream

Covid-19 Curiosity Stream

Rather than just comfort-binging The Simpsons over and over (like me), maybe mix in an educational documentary or two to better your MIND during all of this. CuriosityStream is a documentary-only streaming service that’s currently running a 40% special. That means you can get an annual plan right now for 11.99. Money well spent if you can learn something about the world instead after you’ve memorized the monorail song.

Internet Movie Script Database

The Internet Movie Script Database is an expansive collection of free screenplays. You can learn a lot by watching a movie after you’ve read the screenplay. Editing decisions a clearer, character motivation benefits from the context of written motivation. If you’re looking for someplace to start, I recommend anything by the Coen brothers, particularly Fargo.

Criterion Channel

Criterion isn’t running a special discount or anything, but it does have an always-available 14-day free trial. It’s on the list because, unlike other streaming services, it’s not just a list of available movies. It’s curated and contextualized in a way that lends itself to discovery in a way that, say, Netflix or Hulu don’t. Every Tuesday there’s a Short + Feature programmed, and Friday nights have double bills. There are also conversations with filmmakers that include links to their favorite movies. It’s like having an art house theater in your living room, but with cheaper wine.


You can get an extended 30-day trial of Shudder using the promo code SHUTIN. Horror fans will be happy to find some titles that aren’t available from the bigger services. For example, as of right now, it’s the only way to see One Cut of the Dead, a horror film every filmmaker should see.


Kanopy is a super well-curated collection of films, including a ton of Criterion selections, documentaries, and just about every A24 release. It’s free for many students and, you guessed it, is included with your membership to many libraries. See if you qualify here.


Update 3/25 – More Resources Brought to Our Attention

South by Southwest Shorts

Canceled Austin film festival South by Southwest has partnered with Mailchimp to stream all of this year’s programmed shorts for free. Have a little film festival of your own using Mailchimp Presents.

Arri Master Classes

Arri has released a couple of their cinematography masterclasses available for free, including one by James Laxton, who shot If Beale Street Could Talk and partnered with Lensrentals on a fantastic workshop at the Indie Memphis Film Festival in 2018.

Aputure Lighting Certification

Normally only available to dealers and employees, Aputure is streaming classes associated with its Aputure Lighting Certification. Some of this might be a little dry, but it’s a great introduction to in-depth lighting technology. Check out the schedule here.

Shane Hurlbut Illumination Workshop

Educator and occasional Lensrentals customer Shane Hurlbut is offering free access to his Illumination Workshop. This is a rare opportunity to learn lighting fundamentals from an actual working Director of Photography. His credits include Terminator Salvation and Need for Speed, one of the few wide release narrative films to be shot on the Canon C500.

Arc Studio Pro

Arc Studio’s screenwriting software is free at this link for the time being, so get started on that masterpiece! There are a lot of software options out there, but I think this one is especially helpful right now because of its focus on collaboration. I downloaded it myself to run it through its paces, and I’m really impressed.

Filmmaker U

These classes aren’t cheap, but they’re taught by experienced filmmakers and seem a lot more focused and technically minded than some of the broad “filmmaking” classes available elsewhere. I’m personally super impressed that their next course is being taught by Kirsten Johnson, an accomplished documentary cinematographer. Her feature debut, Cameraperson, is high on my list of favorite docs of all time.

This is just a small fraction of the services and resources available, I’m sure. So, if you’d like to recommend any more for the list, just let us know in the comments.

Author: Ryan Hill

My name is Ryan and I am a video tech here at Lensrentals.com. In my free time, I mostly shoot documentary stuff, about food a lot of the time, as an excuse to go eat free food. If you need my qualifications, I have a B.A. in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University in beautiful downtown Carbondale, Illinois.

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  • Misha Engel

    Mean while in Cupertino:

    Apple quietly increases build-to-order Mac pricing by 10% outside US.

    more info on 9to5mac

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