(When the baby wants to hold the baby…)
First, a disclaimer: I’m not a public health expert or official. These recommendations do not guarantee anyone’s safety so shoot at your own risk!
That said, film productions continue and newborns only remain newborns for the blink of an eye. So it’s both possible and important to practice safe sets. 🙃 Agreeing on some ground rules beforehand and sticking to them can reduce risk for both parties while still capturing this sweet and fleeting time in a family’s life.
What I tell my clients to expect:
😷 If either party is experiencing symptoms prior to or the day of the shoot we agree to suspend the shoot until we know more. Also, both parties have the option to cancel if they don’t feel safe for any reason, infection rates could be much different between the time of hire and the date of the shoot so flexibility and honesty are important.
😷 I wear a mask throughout the shoot and maintain 6-10 feet wherever possible.
😷 I ask the family to keep hand sanitizer near the front door so that I can sanitize each time I come in and out, I also let them know that I will remove my shoes upon entrance.
😷 We’ll be shooting for a total of 20 minutes indoors, knowing transmission is greatly time dependent. Upon arrival I ask adults in the family to mask as I do a quick run through of the home, identifying the best lit areas before we begin. I’ll let them know if they need to open curtains or blinds and they can choose to crack windows in those rooms. If there are areas that need to be cleared or items that need to be moved, I’ll let them know before we begin.
😷 I won’t be physically posing the baby or anyone else: all direction will be verbal. I will refrain from touching anyone or anything in the home and will ask them to have items like burp cloths, pacifiers, swaddlers and other special items to be photographed gathered and on hand before we begin.
😷 When I come in with my equipment I start a timer to help us track our time. If the baby or anyone else needs a break I stop the timer and exit until I get the “all clear” to come back in…this way we maximize our shooting time together without the additional stress of feeling those minutes tick away!
Some additional practices…
💖 I take my temperature the day of – I know it doesn’t mean much but it helps me feel better.
💖 I pack very light. I keep a panel light in the trunk in case I feel its needed after the walk through and I make sure gear is ready to fire with just two choice lenses for simplicity. I try not to put my backpack down in the home but… it happens. I leave an apple crate near the front door in case I need leverage so that I do not have to use their furniture or step stools.
💖 It might sound goofy but I put on clean socks just before leaving the house and take them off when I walk in. This way I don’t drag my house crud into their house or bring their house crud into mine when I come home!
💖 In general, I lead a low risk lifestyle – I don’t eat out at restaurants or go to the gym, I realize that my exposures could become theirs. And for the most part this works for me as a people loving introvert with high anxiety: I just feel better knowing I am keeping them safe. I realize that I cannot put restrictions on anyone’s lifestyle but my own… but if get the sense that they don’t take the threat of COVID-19 seriously (i.e. they push back on these ideas rather than embrace them) then I politely decline the job. I have a family to protect.
💖 I restrict how many indoor shoots I will commit to each week. If I was shooting 10 indoor minis a day, for example, exposure risks greatly increase. I trust you to find your frequency and charge appropriately for your work and for your care!
💖 I spend time helping parents communicate what to expect with the baby’s older siblings and how to get their buy in, if applicable. I spend time answering any questions or concerns because the more communication we have before the shoot, the better we will use our time and the greater trust we will have in each other too!
Twenty minutes doesn’t sound like much but I love what we are getting, efficiency really isn’t a bad thing! I’m getting more family interaction, more random toddler behavior, more beautiful parenting moments and a greater focus on light and touch.
Stay tuned to the blog as I share more of this fam and others. I hope these tips help you and please, if you have advice or questions please drop a comment so we can face this challenging time together! Photogs have to be in each others’ corners.