We're barely halfway through a very difficult year, probably one of the toughest for our country since 2001, and so many of us are struggling with how to cope. For many people, photography isn't really at the top of their "things I care about right now" list. It's not even atop my own, and this is my job. So obviously, it's taken me awhile to figure out when to return to work and how to proceed safely when I do.
I'm very open about my struggles with anxiety and OCD, and I've even talked about them with some of you. A typical flu season is taxing on my health anxiety, so it goes without saying that living through a pandemic is no walk in the park. When Virginia was essentially shut down, it was out of my control as to whether or not I wanted to work. Now that the state is opening up, it seems as though many people have been more lax about how they interact with others, and the pressure is on to get back to work or lose clients, whether I'm comfortable with it or not.
Along with my husband and my business coach, I've come up with my personal guidelines for photo sessions going forward. These are subject to change based on my comfort level, the latest ever-changing research/stats on Covid-19, and the details for each individual shoot:
•Shipped/dropped-off product shoots will carry on as usual, working solo in my home studio.
•Outdoor shoots will go forward using a long lens and social distancing. I will be masked and the client should be masked or 10+ ft away if they are not in the shot (i.e. product/lifestyle photos).
Indoor shoots will be accepted on a case-by-case basis, but the following guidelines can be used as a starting point:
•Home interior photos: client must be masked and if possible, wait in another room or outside. Open windows/ceiling fans on to circulate air would be a plus. Rooms to be photographed should be photo ready before my arrival.
•Indoor portraits: Will accept on a case-by-case basis depending on the size of the room as well as the ventilation.
•Indoor styled/product/food: Due to the close contact and typical length of time required to properly complete a shoot, these will be postponed UFN except for very specific circumstances to be determined on my end.
•Time Limit: All indoor shoots have a time limit of 1 hour max - no exceptions.
If in doubt, just ask!
I understand that these guidelines are limiting, so I ask that you remember that these are based around what will prevent my anxiety from spiraling out of control, as well as the latest facts and recommendations from epidemiologists. It was taking both of these into account that I was able to come up with a way to get back to work while still maintaining my personal level of safety and comfort.
How, what, and when the Virginia state government chooses to reopen has no bearing on my own decisions for returning to work. The state of my mental health is far more important than fully reopening before I feel comfortable. (I absolutely recognize that having this choice is a privilege.)
It's a scary thing to put this out there knowing that literally every client could walk away right now. But I also know it's the right thing to do given the current situation. I have no timeline for when I'll return to "normal" pre-pandemic work - throughout the summer the US has continued to set and break record-high numbers of positive cases. Sadly, the virus isn't going anywhere, so my full return to normal will likely be when a working vaccine is in my body, a solid Covid-19 treatment plan is in place, or numbers of positive cases drop dramatically. This timeline might look different for you, and I respect that, hoping you'll also respect the boundaries I've had to put in place.
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