COVID Guidance for Photographers

It’s almost one year since the first Covid-19 cases were identified in the United Kingdom and we continue to weather the storm of this pandemic. There’s not one industry that hasn’t been affected in some way.

All businesses, whether in England or globally, have had to make sometimes vast changes to continue to operate. Many of these changes have now become commonplace among the broader population, and it’s difficult to envisage a future that doesn’t include masks and social distancing.

Although they haven’t been as affected as some industries, photographers and photographic studios have had to factor additional safety measures into their operations. The goal of operating a safe business while minimising the spread of the virus is at the forefront.

By following the guidelines set out below, or adding to them where necessary, photographers can operate safely.

COVID Guidance for Photographers - Shootfactory

Photographers COVID Guide

Be Aware of the Symptoms

By now everyone in the country should be familiar with the symptoms of Covid-19.  They have been drummed into our heads from the start and we are constantly reminded of them on all forms of media. However, in light of the seriousness of the situation, it’s perhaps pertinent to run through them before going any further.

Common symptoms include:

  • High temperature
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore, scratchy throat
  • Tight chest and/or shortness of breath

Other less common symptoms are:

  • Loss of taste and/or smell
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blocked nose
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Current Government Guidelines

  • Wear a face mask when out in public
  • Maintain a safe distance of 2m from those around you
  • Sanitise and/or wash your hands regularly, for 20 seconds or more
  • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, or into a tissue that should be discarded immediately
  • Stay home unless absolutely necessary

The government has provided these general covid guidelines, and more, for the broader public. Photographers must factor these in when booking jobs, as well as consider them in respect of their own risk assessment for studio or location shoots.

Pre-shoot Planning

Planning for a shoot entails a fair amount of work. There are shoot locations to arrange and models to book, you must ensure that your equipment in good working order, enlist other crew to assist on the day, arrange wardrobe, hair, makeup….. The list is lengthy and fluid, with new items being added and others deleted all the time.

Covid-19 has thrown a new curveball into the mix, making your pre-shoot planning more important than before. While much of your standard checklist will remain the same, taking the following into account may pave the way for an easier run-up to the job.

  • Secure confirmation from your client well in advance of the date of the shoot. This allows you more time for preparation, and putting suitable contingency plans in place.
  • Try and keep your client meetings remote. There are many online meeting tools available – Zoom, Google Meet, Skype – and using these channels for client meetings significantly reduces the chance of virus transmission.
  • If you require castings to find a model for your shoot, go the remote route as well. The only thing you’ll really miss out on here is observing interaction between models. If this is something you require for your final shoot, you may have to arrange a smaller face-to-face casting, once you’ve whittled down your short list.
  • Allow extra time between studio shoots if you’re scheduling more than one for the same day. You will need to ensure that the space is sufficiently cleaned and surfaces sanitised before allowing it to be used again, and this may take some time.
  • If you’re working on a tight deadline for a shoot, have back up models lined up ready to step in should anyone need to self-isolate or quarantine.
  • For location shoots, ensure that you plan around social distancing. This may require multiple visits to the location while you determine the best use of the space, but will result in a smoother shoot on the day.
  • Circulate the Health & Safety Covid protocols to everyone who will be attending the shoot, whether it’s at a studio or on location. Request that these be read in advance, so that on the day all cast and crew are prepared.

The Shoot

With most of the background work completed in the pre-planning phase, your shoot should run fairly smoothly. Make sure that you pay particular attention to these points:

Screening & Safety

  • Distribute the studio’s or location’s Health & Safety Covid protocol again. Everyone should already be aware of these due to earlier circulation, but it’s of the utmost importance that they are adhered to. Have each shoot attendee sign a document to the effect that have read and understood the guidelines.
  • Adults chaperoning your models must provide their details prior to the shoot, and comply with screening requirements on the day.
  • On arrival each member of the cast and crew must be screened. Ask questions to determine whether or not they’ve been in contact with anyone suspected of having the virus, or if they have experienced any symptoms in recent days. Take temperatures and complete the details on a contact form for record-keeping should you need to track and trace at any stage.
  • Ensure that masks are worn at all times, apart from when the shoot is in session.
  • Have sanitising stations positioned around the studio or location. Encourage participants to wash or sanitise their hands regularly.

Cast and Crew

  • Keep cast and crew to a minimum, and have only those who are essential to the proceedings are in attendance. This will assist with social distancing, particularly in smaller spaces.
  • Crew should not share equipment. On the off-chance that this is necessary, equipment should be sanitised before handing over to the next crew member.
  • Models’ wardrobes should be steam cleaned prior to use. Where outfit changes are needed, each outfit should be steamed after use, or bagged up for washing/steam cleaning.
  • Keep physical interaction between models to a minimum. If touching is required, they should wash or sanitise their hands before and after the session.


  • Shoot outdoors as much as possible. If indoor work is required, ensure that there is sufficient ventilation by keeping doors and windows open. All non-essential crew or cast members must remain outside while the shoot is underway.
  • All indoor surfaces should be sanitised prior to the shoot taking place, and once the shoot has wrapped up.
  • Use remote locations where possible, to eliminate the risk of members of the public wandering on to the set.


  • If possible, crew and cast members should provide their own refreshments.
  • If you need to provide catering, opt for individually wrapped meals or a serving counter that is staffed to minimise the risk of transmission.
  • Where your budget allows, provide disposable utensils, dishes and cups. If this isn’t possible, ensure that crockery and glassware is washed thoroughly before and after use.
  • Catering staff must wear masks at all times, and sanitise their hands regularly.
  • Tea, coffee and cold drink stations should also be manned.
  • Stagger eating times to avoid clusters of people.
  • In a common eating area, make sure that there is sufficient space between tables to maintain social distancing.

Post-Shoot Administration

  • Remind all crew and models to keep you updated should they fee unwell or start to experience any symptoms.
  • All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and stored in spaces where it is unlikely to be touched until needed.
  • If possible, clients should view the gallery or images online. Where a physical viewing is necessary, keep the number of attendees to a minimum and ensure social distancing.

The above points are purely guidelines to assist you in your preparation for a shoot. During the course of a job, you might find other items that need to be included. It’s best to have your own set of guidelines drawn up and circulated among your team so that your shoots run smoothly.

The goal is always to put health and safety first.  If you can’t guarantee a safe environment for you, your team and the models at a shoot, you may need to revisit your preparations until you can do so.


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