SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR BUSINESS
After a summer of shooting portraits outside, it’s good to be back photographing business headshots indoors again.
My priority is to be responsible and respect my clients health and safety during this time. But working with my clients to assess the key challenges, I’ve created some simple solutions, in line with government advice, to ensure that I’m taking all the necessary steps when it comes to working with clients on their business photography.
Recently I was invited back to my client 4-5 Grays Inn Square to photograph portraits of the company’s new team members. It’s so great to see businesses working through things at this difficult time, investing in their people and growing their teams. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a range of businesses just recently from lawyers to builders, bakers to jewellers. Businesses are pivoting and looking for new, improved ways to marketing themselves. Great professional photography is essential when it comes to marketing your business and promoting the expertise of your team members.
TEAM HEADSHOT DAYS DURING COVID-19
In fact, a number of businesses I’ve worked with have been recruiting during lockdown and have found that the team headshot days have been a great opportunity for new starters and existing staff member to actually meet each other (all socially distanced of course). Whilst they may not be working in office spaces full time, getting back to the office for their headshot photography sessions has been a really positive and uplifting experience.
So, whilst many people are asking if I’m still working during this time and how the new rules around Covid are affecting professional photography, I thought I’d share how I’m managing to continue photographing business headshots in office spaces during Covid-19, whilst observing social distancing protocols.
LOCATION – WHAT SPACE DO YOU NEED?
For my recent shoot at Gray’s Inn Square, space was generous but not in the way that many very modern work spaces are. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray’s Inn Road in Central London, the chambers provided more than enough room for the shoot.
The ideal minimum space requirement that I normally request is around 3 metres by 3 metres, cleared of most furniture so that I can either pop up a background and lighting for studio style business headshots (see an example set up below) or have space for lighting if I’m creating more natural style business headshots.
As you can see from the image above, space was plentiful and there was certainly enough room for myself and the client to keep at a 2 metre distance at all times.
The 4-5 Gray’s Inn team was incredible and we all felt safe and nicely spaced out within the office space. As more and more people move back into work spaces, I’m sure I’ll start to shoot in smaller spaces again. In fact, due to many team members working from home, most recently I’ve been photographing headshots within people’s homes which are often smaller. But with transparent working practices around how the portraits are scheduled and with hygiene continuing to be a priority, this isn’t a problem.
ORGANISATION – THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHEDULING
I have a huge amount of respect for the people tasked with organising team headshots. Ensuring whole teams of people are available on the same day is no easy feat! However, I think the days of organising 50+ people for a day of headshots, scheduled minutes apart, may not return for a short while at least.
It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out, but for now, companies are arranging for smaller numbers of team members to return to the office for their individual corporate headshots. I suppose it all depends on space and numbers whilst at the same time ensuring that it can be achieved safely.
Right now if clients have large teams to photograph they are are booking two sessions – so that Team A and Team B can be photographed on different days. This seems to work really well and I’m more than happy to discuss a one off fee rather than charge for two separate shoots.
For recent client Willmott Dixon I photographed the team over two days in two different locations to keep thing as safe as possible.
Right now, companies are playing it safe and that’s as it should be. Rather than people being scheduled for their sessions back to back, every 5 minutes, the time is being extended to at least 10 minutes per person to ensure that there is a minimum number of people in the space at any one time. Many clients are making it clear that there is a photo-shoot taking place in a particular room to ensure that there are no unexpected visitors and I would also suggest that where possible, companies implement a one way in/out system for the smooth flow of people through the space.
And despite cautiousness, most people are really enjoying seeing colleagues for perhaps the first time since March. Having the space to catch up, whilst still maintaining a sensible distance, has only added to the positive experience of the shoot days.
KEEPING A DISTANCE & TETHERING
I’ll be honest, when it comes to actually photographing the headshots, my work hasn’t changed that much. I always keep a distance between myself and the client and so this is very much business as usual.
I use a Canon 5D Mark IV with telephoto lenses between 85 and 135mm which give a lovely perspective whilst keeping me socially distanced from the person I’m photographing.
If you have more space available, I can be even further away and increasingly people are opting for half body shots, over and above the usual head and shoulders shots so this keeps a further distance between us.
Unsurprisingly, most people are nervous when they stand in front of a camera, not sure what to with with hands and unsure of their posture. My job is very much about directing them so that they hold a strong, yet natural, pose. I have never needed to get close to people to do this, I can often show them how to stand, illustrate what I mean with my own posture and lead them through the shoot so that they are comfortable and relaxed.
At the start of this year I started to shoot with my camera tethered to my laptop as this was useful for product photography but this is now an essential part of my headshot sessions.
It allows clients to review their images on-screen to ensure that they are happy with their business headshots. Whilst this isn’t the final edit and clients don’t have to decided there and then on their chosen image, it does give a great idea of the image and provides them with an opportunity to check that they are happy wth the range of images I will provide.
It goes without saying that it is far better to view images on a monitor rather than standing next to me and looking at them at the back of my camera.
EQUIPMENT & HYGIENE
I own all of my photography equipment so nothing is rented or hired in from an outside source. And as I work alone on shoots, I am the only person dealing with my cameras, touching my lighting and setting up backgrounds so you can rest assured that all gear is as it should be on the shoot and is thoroughly cleaned pre and post shoot.
As my laptop is available for clients to look at their images, the laptop can be cleaned with a wipe between sessions to ensure good hygiene and I ask that clients wash their hands before the shoot.
Like most businesses, masks are a must when moving around so I will always arrive in my mask and wear it as I’m setting up and moving around the office space.
Once set up and during the actual shoot, I tend to not wear a mask so that I can direct and explain things clearly. However I am happy to wear a mask if required by individual companies, or by the individual I am photographing. If they feel happier for me to wear a mask that’s totally fine and I always arrive at shoots with a mask (and a spare).
I decided to put this blog together to reassure both existing clients, as well as potential clients, that commissioning business headshots within your office space during this time is safe and can be really enjoyable. If all of the above considerations are worked through, and together we ensure that we are working in line with government advice, there is no reason why you can’t go ahead with your planned photography sessions.
Not only will you get a great set of images of your team, you’ll also create a great experience for your staff to get together and enjoy each others company.
PERSONAL MEASURES & HEALTH CHECKS
When I’m not on shoots, I work on my own from home and I’m staying at home as much as possible to minimise my contact with people. I am also limiting going to public places as much as I can to ensure that I stay safe and well. I am taking all safety measures incredibly seriously, keeping a 2m distance from others, not shaking hands, hand sanitising, wearing a mask and generally keeping as safe as possible.
Pre-shoot, I will contact you to check whether anyone involved in the shoot is feeling ill or has coronavirus symptoms and all of my clients are doing the regular health check with teams, as well as track and trace.
I ask that you contact me as soon as possible if someone has symptoms so that we can re-arrange the photo shoot, where necessary.
Please do get in touch if you’d like more information about my business headshot sessions for groups. I’d be more than happy to answer any of your concerns and together we can create a shoot that works for you and your team.