By Pau Hana Productions

A lot of advertising and marketing plans have been delayed or cancelled due to the pandemic. This is understandable, as there is more concern and uncertainty than at any other time in the 25+ years I have been in business. My photo session bookings were off 25% in 2020 and 2021 is shaping up similarly. I know many businesses are in much worse shape.

With the virus still claiming lives and any type of normalcy still many months away, should you just sit back and hope for the best? Or should you plan a marketing campaign that positions your business for future success? You should move forward, of course!

But what about photo and video shoots? Can they be done safely? I would like to raise my sanitizer-soaked hand and make a few suggestions.

Plan and plan some more

Prior to the photo shoot, make sure everybody is aware of the “Covid Kindness” practices that will be in place. From masks to temperature checks, lay out all that is expected from everyone involved. I now travel with a stack of disposable masks and a supply of hand sanitizer and make them available to anyone who forgot theirs.

Limit the number of people on the shoot and then limit the number of people in the room as much as possible. If a lunch break is necessary, stagger the break times, if possible, and ensure there is enough space to distance when masks are removed. 

I did one shoot at which everybody was handed a sandwich and we ate lunch alone in our cars. This worked particular well for the guy in the white shirt who got the dripping Tex Mex.

To mask or not to mask, that is the question

The question I get asked the most is, “Do we show people wearing masks in the photo?” The answer is yes … and no. Photo-shy people actually like having their face covered. Although I do hear some of them asking colleagues if the mask makes their face look fat.

I have found the best use of time and resources is to do whatever shot you are planning with the subject wearing a mask, then remove the mask briefly. This allows you to have a photo you can use now, showing your sensitivity to the current crisis. Then later, after we are through this mess, the masked photo can be replaced with the maskless one. Between those shots, allow your subjects a moment or two to primp in front of a mirror, as masks do tend to smudge makeup and disturb hairstyles. I use the primping time to clear all nonessential personnel from the area.

Technology to the rescue

If you need to have more than one individual in a picture, compose the shot in such a way that the photographer can shoot the people separately and then combine the photos in post processing. The photo of the Angel Of Ascension in 30th Street Station was done that way.

I also have conducted multiple photo shoots in my studio with the client at home wearing his or her pajama pants. With a Google Meet or Zoom call set up, I share my screen as I shoot tethered to the computer and the subjects see everything as if they were standing next to the camera. I won’t discuss what I wear.

If you follow these tips, the ‘Rona doesn’t have to stop production of your visual content. If you need help planning your next pandemic era photo shoot, feel free to reach out to me.