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September 16, 2020

Hot on theLoop: What Steps are Photographers Taking to Keep Clients Comfortable and Safe?

If you’re looking for advice on how to operate safely amid COVID-19, head over to the Loop and check out this post! It’s all about how our members are adjusting and coping with COVID-19 and what efforts they are taking to help keep their clients both safe and comfortable. We’ve included some of the top tips below!

Lens Choice Matters

Many of our members have mentioned switching to longer lenses like 85mm and 70-200mm for their sessions to create more space between them and their clients. “85mm seems to be the perfect length for social distancing,” says one member.

In addition to using longer lenses and keeping a safe distance from your clients, closer communication remains crucial during sessions. If you need to come closer to your clients to give direction, this can be done with a mask on. Also, making small changes to the way you structure your sessions can have a big impact on the comfort levels of your clients. For instance, one of our members states, “I normally show people the back of the camera at certain points during a shoot, but I have not been doing that as I would have to get close.”

Communicating About Cleaning and Procedures

“We are frequently cleaning all hard surfaces with alcohol, especially bathrooms and doorknobs,” says one member, adding that they always let their clients know about the measures they’re taking for their comfort and safety. We’ve had lots of members chiming in on how they are promoting their safety measures and practices upfront to their clients. Here are just a few: 

  • Create a COVID-19 info page on your website that lists out what you are doing to provide safe and comfortable experiences to your clients (cleaning practices, limiting the number of people in the studio, limiting the number of sessions each day to allow time to clean in between each, etc.)
  • Write blog posts or share on social media about your safety precautions 
  • Reinforce safety messaging with images of your studio cleaning practices 
  • Create a video walking your clients through your cleaning process as well as providing information on what they can expect during their session
  • Create an email template for upcoming sessions (or events) that describes what steps you will be taking to keep clients/event guests safe.
  • sending a COVID check-up before each shoot that covers key points (have you had a fever, loss of taste or smell, etc.) 

A few cleaning tips shared by our members included:

  • Cleaning right before each session so clients can smell the cleaning products when they arrive
  • Provide a 30-minute buffer between sessions to allow time to thoroughly clean and disinfect high-traffic surfaces like equipment, props, bathrooms, and doorknobs
  • Have hand sanitizer out so it can be seen and accessed (and bringing some with you to outdoor sessions)

Mask Up

Whether or not the photographer should wear a mask throughout the entirety of the session is also discussed in this thread. Some photographers choose to wear a mask the entire time while others choose to remove their mask when they are further away from their client. Other members mention trying out different styles of masks to see which ones are easier or more comfortable to use while working with their clients.

“Everyone must wear masks when a client is in the studio,” says one member. “Once the client is in position, and I'm back at the camera, their masks can come off.” 

If you are concerned about clients not sticking to safety precautions there are a few things you can do to help remind them. One member notes “When the clients book a session, I have an automated reply that asks them to wear a mask to the studio.”

“I bought a box of disposable masks and hand those out when people show up without masks,” shares another member.

If you are choosing to remove your mask when photographing your client, another option is to mark off spaces in the studio to help you keep your distance as this member did in their studio: “I marked off boxes on the floor with blue masking tape. ‘In the blue is safe for you’. I had my first brave headshot client be my video example and traded their patience for an extra file.”

Another member shares how they encourage maintaining a safe distance between them and their clients during the session by adding a short message into their Terms & Conditions stating “I will stay at least 6 feet away and I ask you to do the same.”

Location, Location, Location

Some members have chosen to move the majority (or all) of their sessions to outdoor spaces. “I'm still trying to figure out my winter plan, as shooting outdoors will be much harder then,” shares one member.

Getting the timing right with your outdoor sessions may also allow you to avoid crowds like this member: “I try to pick times and locations that are not crowded (I have a great little coffee shop near me that is closed on Mondays and has some beautiful green spaces around it) so it helps keep us from dealing with crowds.”

For some members, their current studios have actually turned out to be a great option for their clients during this time. One member shares that her headshot setup is in her home, “so I think that puts people at ease”.

Another member with a home studio agrees, sharing that "finally having a studio in my garage is an advantage! I can open the garage door and have it like an open-air studio with great air circulation”.

Going Virtual 

Digital events and options are continuing to grow and photographers are hopping on board. Many of the photographers on this post mention that they are taking advantage of platforms like Zoom and Google Meet to do consultations and reveal events.

We hope you found these ideas helpful in crafting your own safety policies, procedures, and practices. You can join in on the discussion here.

As an industry, professional photography has embraced the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing, including shelter in place orders. As a leading organization, PPA urges members to be responsible community members and are grateful for the thousands upon thousands of professional photographers who are doing all they can to ensure the safety of others during this difficult time. Read PPA's Guidelines for Safe Operations.

You can also check out our extensive list of resources to help you run your business during this time here. From communications, marketing, and finances to mental health, wellness, and productivity—we’ve got you covered!