I am sure many of you are as concerned about Coronavirus as I am. I have been following it on the news and seen it impact so many people around the world. Call me naive, as I never saw it impacting our world as much as it did. I have closed my business since the 3rd week of March and have been staying at home to do my part to flatten the curve. By limiting my activities outdoors I am hoping to decrease my exposure and risk. Only in recent weeks have I ventured outdoors for quick walks around the neighborhood. My main concern since the beginning of this was to figure out what was a safe balance between my small business and the pandemic. How can I ensure my photography business is safe during Coronavirus?
I may be more cautious than most, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I have been ordering grocery delivery/curbside pickup from a nearby grocer (As a side note: If you’re in need of a local fish monger, check out Hooked fish shop. They deliver to many areas around the greater Boston area, including: Cambridge, Somerville, Charlestown, Belmont, Brookline, Chestnut Hill and Newton!) and I am not getting takeout either just in case. Though I will admit to having really intense cravings for Korean, Middle Eastern and Japanese food as of late!
For mask purchases, information and resource links, scroll down to the bottom of the post. You can purchase these items for your family and the research so far sounds very promising!
I have just updated this post with my reviews of each mask and my recommendation below.
In order to minimize any possibility of me getting Coronavirus, I pledge to not grocery shop or head into public service areas (stores, restaurants, cafes, etc.) for the foreseeable future. I will delete this line if I change my mind. However, I do not foresee me changing my outlook on things. The only reason I would head out now is to pickup curbside groceries, get gas for my car to get to sessions, or go for walks. I don’t get completely out of shape and forget how to walk! I will not be taking public transportation, going on any trips or otherwise doing unnecessary travel. The current sessions I am booking are pre-screened with video chats and safety releases/affirmations.
To lighten the mood of this post, I’d love to tell you about my fancy new bread machine! I used to have an old one, but just never bothered to use it for YEARS. I ended up donating it last year. When the pandemic hit, I of course had to jump on the bread-making bandwagon. Along came this handsome fella. I’ll try to do a photoshoot for him later, but I highly recommend this for easy bread-making at home. I have made 3 types of bread, pizza dough and next I’m going to be making cinnamon buns. When this pandemic ends and it’s safe to head out again, I am immediately heading out to get SUSHI at my fave local joint, EBI. If you haven’t tried them, you NEED to.
In order to ensure I do not Coronavirus during any of my photography sessions, I am asking all of my clients to be as cooperative and communicative of their health status as they can. I am requesting a release form related to Coronavirus to be signed prior to each session affirming no one in the family is/has been sick for the past 14 days with the typical symptoms of Covid-19 listed below:
I am also asking people to affirm they have not traveled domestically or internationally in the past 14 days prior to their session.
There is a long list of requests included in my documentation that I am going to send out to everyone. I will be adding another blog post on planning and considerations regarding the session itself. That post is now LIVE. On top of this, I am scheduling preparation video calls with families so that we can develop a plan for the session. This way, we will be prepared before the session and be on the same page. My preference is to just allow kids to be kids and for the sessions to take place away from city parks.
The measures I will take to try and minimize Coronavirus contamination during our photography sessions are also outlined in a post I made in March. Please have a read through this BLOG POST. Clients have the right to cancel / postpone their sessions if they feel they may be sick. I also retain the right to cancel if I feel sick so that I don’t get anyone else sick.
For the foreseeable future, I will not be photographing in the Boston Public Gardens, or any other high-traffic parks. Likely I will be avoiding most downtown locations unless they are done at sunrise. I will be putting together a list of recommended locations with samples. This list will be posted on my blog for easy access by everyone. Anyone on my mailing list will also get a notification once this item is published. I highly recommend a sunrise, weekday location if you want to keep your session closer to town. If you are interested in something specific, please reach out and I can let you know. Each location may be a unique decision.
I should also note that I intend to only do outdoor photography sessions for the rest of 2020 and into early 2021.
I am also putting together a mailing list to get all of the planning information to you in the easiest manner possible. With the current state of the world and social media, it no longer has the reach it used to have in order to keep everyone informed. If you would like to receive the most up to date information, location information, preparation information, please sign up for my mailing list. I will add a link below.
Please check spam if you don’t get instant notification for mailing list confirmation.
You can also always subscribe from my homepage. Sessions will be booked on a first-come first-served basis. I will have very limited weekend dates available. Those dates will likely only be opened to families that have a yard that they want to use for their session. If there was something very isolated that you had in mind, please reach out. Weekends tend to be very busy now that many stores and typical forms of entertainment are closed.
I am currently accepting bookings for my Baby 1 Year families. I was very torn about closing and reopening knowing that my choice would impact those families that trusted me to document their baby’s very first year of life. My June calendar is now open to those families. I have sent out emails as well as posted on social media. If I somehow missed you, please reach out. I am taking Coronavirus VERY seriously during my photography sessions.
After those families are booked, I will be opening my calendar to families that reached out since March when I officially closed. Those on my waitlist are welcome to book a session in June.
The post on my reopening plan can be found HERE.
Starting June 10, my calendar will open to Mailing List subscribers. This will be more organized than my current scribble in my notebook. This way I won’t miss anyone and the mailing will go out to everyone at the same time. I will make an announcement June 9 on social media to that affect. I want to reach as many eyes as possible. Again, since the reach is so low these days, the most reliable way for me to inform everyone of my phased opening plan would be to notify everyone via a direct email.
I will be closed for the month of July to assess how the sessions in June went. I plan to put in new measures to ensure sessions are as successful as I can possibly make them. The announcement for my August dates for bookings will go out early- to mid-July via the mailing list. If my June sessions go off without a hitch, I’ll open up August for my mailing list clients. I just want to ensure that the families that I will be working for are “screened”. By reading my posts and being knowledgeable of my goals for each session and safety measures, I believe we can work together to make this safe.
I will be taking one month at a time, seeing how well I can photograph people while socially distanced. I will also be taking in the new health data as well as seeing if and how schools will be reopening to determine if I will be open in September. Right now I cannot guarantee I will be open for September. I will have to wait for the numbers and the decisions by our government regarding safety measures. If no one in your household will be in a higher-risk position by September, then please let me know when reaching out to book.
I will be making another post about the necessary planning for sessions going forward as well as describing how 2020/2021 sessions will be going forward. [UPDATE: The post is now LIVE] I firmly believe that by planning, we can make the session fun and less stressful for everyone. Since I want everyone to be on the same page, it’s best to determine your goals ahead of time. I will be sending over a questionnaire to all of my families as well as scheduling a 10-20 minute video chat the day of/day before our session on top of my usual emailing back and forth for planning purposes. The new contracts will have specific verbiage regarding safety measures. Thank you for understanding my need for information and communication during these strange times of photography during Coronavirus.
Thank you again for reading through this entire post. I hope I haven’t scared you away, but instead built a stronger bond of trust based on shared values. Be well and I hope to meet soon.
One of my doctor families has been so kind in sharing some resources with me. Currently, Halyard 600 fabric is the gold standard for making your own masks at home. The link to a homemade tutorial can be found on the University of Florida mask website HERE.
Another incredible doctor has shared information on KN95 masks. They are not certified N95 masks, but they are the Chinese-standard. You can read more about the mask differences HERE. She also shared some wonderful resources that I am linking to as well. THIS MASK is certified to be N95 and has an excellent ‘gel’ seal. I have ordered some to see if they are comfortable and I will report back once I try them out. The difference between a surgical and non-surgical N95 is explained HERE. Basically, surgical masks are built to withstand squirting liquids, whereas regular N95s do not. By purchasing these you will not take away from medical professionals since they cannot use them as a medical mask. Another option is this N93 (not certified by the FDA, but tested by Nelson Labs. You can see their certification HERE and the link to purchase can be found HERE. I have also purchased double-sided tape to get a better seal around the edges of the mask.
UPDATE: I have now tested all masks for a few weeks now. My favourite mask is the N93 mask because the fit is very good. It is thick but I feel protected. Cons include it’s hard to breathe in, gets hot, and muffles your voice. None of that really will make me not highly recommend it. The N95 is great, but made for people with high-bridged noses. As a flat-nosed Asian, there is quite a big gap in the nose area for me. If you have a bridge, then it’s a great choice. KN95s are easiest to breathe in. The cons are that they slide more than the N93 mask and the ear gets a bit irritated as does under my chin area because the fit isn’t perfect for my face shape. Again, everyone will have differing experiences. This is my experience with the mask usage based on my face shape. Hope this helps!
I hope you can find these resources helpful! Please feel free to share this information with friends and family.