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⚠︎ Covid-19 Guidelines for Photo Shoots

⚠︎ Updated 10/1/21. The SF Film office is accepting permit applications, and has eased restrictions for the number of people allowed for shoots. We are also getting covid tests prior to location shoots when requested by clients. 

If you need photography for an editorial or commercial shoot in the San Francisco Bay Area call 415-595-5348 or email. For latest developments visit CA Dept Public Health (CDPH) FAQs + Latest News Releases
Jay Watson self portrait
Longest its been in decades self portrait

How Are Photographers Working On Set In A Covid-19 World?

We are required to meet local safety measures, and besides masking up, getting vaccinated, and social distancing – here are some of the options I have been offering to clients during this time:

• Remote shoots. Send me your product and your shot list.

• Outdoor shoots. This allows us to spread out and take advantage of good air circulation. Depending on the weather and location, there are also ways to create the look of a controlled studio set up with a seamless background outside. We built a studio set in a parking lot to create this image for a client!

• Indoor shoots. We can get tested to insure safety during your shoot. We can also share proofs with a client wirelessly to a tablet, or to a large monitor at a 25Ft distance. Some digital techs are now offering options to live broadcast photo shoots to art directors, photo editors, and clients who need to work remotely. There are added expenses to cover the additional equipment and prep time, but this can be offset by saving time and eliminating travel costs.

When working with small to large crews I have been adopting some of the policies and guides endorsed by trade groups within the commercial photo and film production industries below.

Basic Procedures Involve:

  • PHOTOGRAPHER / PRODUCER – send updated safety protocols before each photo shoot, provide PPE to crew, coordinate current safety needs with a contact at the location,
  • PHOTOGRAPHER, ASSISTANTS, DIGITAL TECHS – sanitize common work surfaces, maintain safe working distances by shooting tethered or with wireless remotes.
  • HAIR & MAKE-UP ARTISTS – sanitize brushes, combs and supplies. Follow AICP and MJ68 guidelines (see below).
  • WARDROBE STYLISTS – sanitize styling equipment and supplies. Follow AICP and MJ68 guidelines (see below).
  • SUBJECTS / MODELS – wear PPE up until it’s time to be photographed.
  • CRAFT / LUNCHES – packaged orders picked up or delivered.
  • LOCATION PREP/WRAP – assigned person to sanitize work surfaces and lunch area before/after shoot.
  • EVERYONE – respect 6’ft social distancing, receive a contactless temperature check prior to working on set, wear PPE, wash hands frequently, limit handling supplies and equipment outside of your role, travel to shoot location independently, bring personal drink container to the shoot (let’s reduce waste anyway).

Guidance For Photo Shoots

General Work Guidance:

How Has Covid-19 Affected Photos Shoots?

The restrictions have slowed me down a little, but not by much. Some of the biggest changes have been from locations that have increased insurance requirements, or having to squeeze a covid test into my schedule. Overall we are still productive by: 1) prioritizing the shot list, 2) having an efficient schedule, 3) making selections on-line after the shoot, and/or 4) working with a digital tech.

I really look forward to kicking my mask to the curb. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy the process of working with everyone. The chest bumps and bro shakes are on hold, but we will still crack jokes, play good music, and have fun making images.

High fives from 6 ft.

– Jay Watson

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Jay Watson
San Francisco Bay Area based lifestyle and people photographer Jay Watson shoots editorial, apparel, automotive, corporate, and sports subjects for commercial clients. Published in over 70 magazines.

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