First of all, it’s important to note that there are different social distancing guidelines depending on whereabouts in the UK you are working.
Follow the below links to see the current guidelines for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland:
How photographers are affected by social distancing
The extent to which you are affected by the social distancing measures will depend on your commercial photography activity. For instance, if you specialise in photo shoots in a studio then you will have to make a lot more changes to your day-to-day operations than if you primarily shoot outdoors.
Below we have provided some advice on how photographers can adapt to working under the social distancing measures.
Please note the below advice is based on our interpretation of the current government guidance at the time of writing.
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Sticking to the 2 metre rule
This is perhaps the most important measure to help limit the spread of COVID-19, and for most photographers it should be achievable – especially as the government recently revised their guidance and now allow for social distancing at 1 metre if 2 metres is not practical.
For photographers, this means being careful not to get too close to subjects – which may be more difficult than it sounds when you’re in the zone and looking for the perfect angles. It also means you will not be able to physically position subjects, so you will have to rely on verbal cues and instructions to get those perfect shots.
If you often visit other sites, venues and workplaces for your work e.g. wedding venues, clients’ premises etc. then you will need to make sure they have a risk assessment in place that includes the social distancing measures they are taking. Likewise, if you welcome clients to your studio or workplace then you need to have effective social distancing measures in place and limit the number of people in your premises at any one time.
If you run a photography business that employs people, then you also need to take into account how your employees can work safely. This could be as simple as moving desks further apart, but may also have to involve staggered working hours and adapting travel arrangements so employees are not in the same vehicle.
Should photographers wear a face mask?
Although there is currently no requirement for anyone to wear a face mask or face covering, other than on public transport, the government guidance does state:
“If you can, wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.”
This criteria could easily apply to many photographers, so it may be worthwhile wearing a mask “if you can” – i.e. if it doesn’t interfere with your photography.
Many people report having some difficulty breathing and communicating effectively when wearing a mask or other face covering, so it may take some getting used to.
Keeping yourself and your kit clean
By now you should be well aware of the need to regularly wash your hands and to use hand sanitiser if soap and water isn’t readily available. However, now that lockdown is easing and you are starting to go out and visit more places for work it can be easy to get out of these habits.
Photographers should make a point of always having hand sanitiser gel in their bag and get into the habit of applying it regularly throughout the working day.
It’s also important to keep your photography equipment as clean and sanitised as possible – especially your bag, tripod and cameras – as you will be constantly touching your kit throughout the day. As photographers spend a lot of time with their camera close to their face it is important to try and manage the risk of transferring any virus ‘droplets’ from your hands to your camera and then to your face, where it can enter your body through your nose, mouth and eyes.
The government guidance recommends you “clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products.”
If you work from a studio or other premises, then you need to provide hand washing facilities so staff, customers and other visitors can wash their hands.
Frequent cleaning of surfaces within the workplace is also required, as evidence suggests that the virus can survive on some surfaces for up to 72 hours. This is particularly important for communal surfaces such as:
- Door handles
- Lift buttons
- Kitchen appliances and surfaces
If you would like more advice on carrying out workplace risk assessments, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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