The Covid pandemic has affected every type of business. It’s been harder for photographers to find jobs as events are still being canceled or postponed. As the pandemic drags on and new Covid variants appear, the future is uncertain. When you book jobs, how do you deal with masks, social distancing and vaccinations when there are so many differing opinions on these issues? The general rule is to respect the client’s preferences while keeping yourself safe and healthy.
Clear and Honest Communication is Essential
A photographer is a service provider. As such, you should place the client’s concerns and preferences at the forefront. This starts with open communication when you discuss working for them.
Ask the client what type of precautions they require for their event. This may include wearing masks, social distancing, or other conditions. Naturally, it’s up to you whether or not to accept. However, it’s important to discuss these issues so there are no disagreements later. Clients may ask you about your vaccination status. Whether you are partly, fully or not vaccinated, you should be honest about it.
Stay Current with Local Laws and Restrictions
Laws and restrictions vary from place to place. There are city and state ordinances regarding masks and vaccinations which are subject to change based on current conditions. For photographers, it’s especially relevant to track restrictions on public events. For example, there may be bans on gatherings of more than a certain number of people. It’s important to stay informed about the latest policies in your area or the location of an event you’re photographing. Staying informed about restrictions can help you plan better. If indoor events are banned in your city, perhaps you can find venues outside the city where they are still permitted.
Good Practices to Follow
Apart from specific requests on the part of your client and the latest official policies in the area, the following are some guidelines to keep in mind.
- If masks are required, be sure to bring an extra supply for you and anyone who is working with you.
- Practice social distancing as much as possible.
- Keep your equipment clean. It’s always a good idea to keep your cameras, lenses, tripods and other gear clean. It’s even more important now. Clean everything after every shoot. Don’t forget to clean any screens you take along with you such as smartphones, tablets or laptops.
- Avoid sharing equipment. In order to maximize cleanliness and avoid the spread of germs and viruses, don’t share equipment while working. If you work with partners, everyone should use their own equipment. Sometimes guests at an event may want to inspect your equipment. Politely explain that it’s against your policy for health and safety reasons.
- Discuss logistics. It’s especially important to go over details of a photo session when you need to prioritize safety and social distancing.
Be Creative and Adaptable
In some cases, you may need to alter the way you operate to stay safe and to remain compliant with current restrictions. For sessions in your own studio or in other locations, you may want to set your own precautions beyond what is required. Discuss alternatives with the client. For example, if someone wants to hire you for an indoor shoot, suggest moving it to an outdoor venue. If events aren’t permitted in a certain location, suggest moving it to another city or county.
Add Relevant Information in Your Contract
It’s important to include all relevant information in your contracts with clients. During the pandemic, make sure you add any issues that may be relevant, such as your policy regarding cancelations and refunds. You always should have a clear policy in case the client cancels or the event cannot take place for any reason. At this time, it’s even more important as the event could get canceled due to a city or state-imposed restriction. Clarify any refund policy regarding deposits and under what conditions you offer a refund.
Clarify Your Policies in Your Marketing and Communications
It’s always necessary to communicate your policies clearly with clients and to make sure you understand their needs and preferences. It also helps if you demonstrate your commitment to safety on your website, social media pages, emails, and any other communication and marketing channels you use. With the pandemic being such a longstanding issue, you could create a dedicated page on your website addressing concerns. State the precautions you take with your equipment and in your photo sessions. Clients may still have questions, but this can reassure them before they even talk to you.
Reassure and Communicate with Your Clients
The pandemic has been challenging for all businesses, especially those that perform services in the physical world. You have to contend with current laws and clients’ concerns, while also doing as much as possible to keep yourself safe. The specific measures you take may change over time and may also vary based on your clients. It may be some time until the pandemic is completely behind us and all restrictions are lifted. Until then, do everything you can to keep your clients informed about your policies. And as much as possible, cater to their needs and requests so they feel safe hiring you.