Coronavirus Dos and Don’ts for Photographers and Filmmakers

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These are trying times for all. The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, has led governments to take drastic actions, put strains on businesses, and has affected all individuals in a personal way. It is incredibly important that we all do our part during this time. As photographers and filmmakers ourselves, we want to make sure that there are some key guidelines out there to help prevent the spread of the virus and keep everyone healthy and happy.

Do: Maintain Social Distancing

I’m hopeful you all have heard of social distancing already and have been practicing it in an effort to “flatten the curve.” If you haven’t, the general idea is to stay at home when possible and to maintain distances of at least 6', or 2 meters, from other people in public spaces. This can mean working from home, avoiding face-to-face meetings or visits with others and doing them virtually, or even canceling plans entirely. Also, if you have recently traveled, placing yourself under self-quarantine for two weeks is good practice.

While at home, try practicing your studio lighting or learning about the wildlife in your backyard.

Don’t: Go Out into Public Spaces

The critical thing to know is that it is possible to carry the virus without showing symptoms. Now is NOT the time to be wandering out to photograph crowds of people shopping or going to hospitals because even if you don’t feel anything, you could be putting others in danger. There are professionals, especially photojournalists, who are risking going out to photograph these situations to illustrate stories that hopefully have an impact. If you are just going out to take photos to share on social media or promote yourself, that is not the appropriate reason to be out shooting in public.

If you are looking for something to do, now is a great time to learn some new tricks or fix up your home office.

Do: Clean Your Gear

We all know we should be cleaning our cameras and lenses often. Now is the time to do it, especially if you are stuck at home trying to figure out how best to make use of your time. Plenty of standard cleaning gear can do the trick—just be careful when it comes to lenses and screens. If you do go out and shoot, you should make sure to clean your equipment every time you get home. One thing you might not think about is your smartphone. This may be among the most dangerous items when it comes to germs. Here’s a guide on how to clean yours.

Don’t: Share Equipment

Filmmaking and photography can be extremely collaborative. However, we would advise that you avoid handing off and sharing equipment if possible. Studies have shown that the virus can live for a fairly long period of time on objects and surfaces. Sharing equipment has the potential to spread the virus even if you don’t come in physical contact with another person. This is especially the case for trying out equipment, and is one of the reasons as to why B&H has taken the extraordinary step of closing the SuperStore. If you have questions, our chat and phone lines will remain open.

Do: Go over your Finances

Not gonna lie, this is going to be a tough time for the photo and film industries. Events and social distancing requirements are resulting in a lot of canceled gigs, meaning a loss of income for many of you. Now is not the time for more gear purchases. Review your finances, see what you can do in the meantime, try to find supplemental income during this downtime, and put a plan into action. If you need to consult banks or creditors, many are offering assistance during this time period. Make sure you aren’t cutting corners on basic living essentials so you can stay safe and healthy. Also, now isn’t quite the best time to spend money, but getting some accounting software and getting your taxes prepared isn’t the worst idea.

Intuit Quickbooks Desktop Pro 2020
Intuit Quickbooks Desktop Pro 2020

Don’t: Ignore Your Clients

This is a stressful time for all and many of your clients are likely in tough situations and canceling their own events. No one wants to be in this position, and everyone is likely looking for a bit of clarity on how things are going to work going forward. Maintain a dialogue with your clients and work with them as best you can. Everyone needs to work together if we are going to make it through this.

Do: Wash Your Hands

This is more of a life tip than a photo- or video-specific one, but please wash your hands often. Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus. Make sure you are doing it right. Washing with soap and hot water for 20 to 30 seconds is the rule for effective cleaning.

Don’t: Get Overwhelmed

Quarantines, isolations, curfews can damage our mental health. Stay calm and make sure to talk to your friends and family during this time. If you are having a hard time, it is likely others around you are in the same spot. Having some friendly conversations and checking in with everyone is a good idea. Also, keep yourself busy if you are stuck at home. Start working on your next short film script, practice your lighting for photography, get some chores done that you have been putting off. A great idea is to get back into a workout routine.

Do: Take a Moment

Everyone probably has some extra time on their hands right now. You don’t need to fill it with endless tasks. Taking a second to breathe and relax can do wonders. Maybe it will give you a new project idea to tackle during the next few weeks.

All these current rules and changes can be scary, so it is very important to keep in mind that things will get better and people are around to help. Try to follow all the guidelines and rules as best as you possibly can. Every little bit helps. If you have any other questions or concerns, please leave them below in the Comments section. If you have ideas or suggestions for content you want to see, please leave those as well. Stay safe everyone!

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4 Comments

The best advice, like the article says, is to avoid as much as possible, being in public. Varied social distancing guidelines allow for persons to go out and run, jog and exercise alone in public. For an older (middle aged) person like myself, exercise means walking or jogging. As a photographer, I might normally want to bring my tripod and best gear on long walks because good scenes are hard to resist. But I'm not going out on dedicated photo excursions since the main scenes would only document the theme of empty cities. On the other hand, you might be surprised to see unusual wild animals in deserted cities during the pandemic and wish you had your 200mm lens with you. My advice for the diehards would be to go ahead and carry a tiny amount of gear if you're going on long walks for exercise but try not to set up a tripod unless you see something truly profound that calls for one. And by no means should you expect the liberty of bringing model lights, a helper or model. Stay solo. In other words, you might wish to capture a photo or two during any locally authorized walk exercise but don't put yourself into a planned photo mission if its not truly vital. Don't test or defy the spirit of social distancing. It's crucial to self isolate. You should not be lingering in public unless buying important food and supplies or getting some exercise (with camera) as authorized in your locale.

With regard to toughing things, bring plenty of tissue, use two sheets at a time if they're thin. Throw away after one usage. All surfaces are potentially deadly including ATM screens, self checkouts, crosswalk buttons, park benches, door handles, railings, shopping carts and grocery fridge handles. Thin disposable gloves can be used to operate cell phone cams and camera touch screens but should be thrown away after one contact with anything not known to be freshly cleaned. If you carry a dedicated camera, you can brings some clean plastic or bio-plastic bags. Use one to keep the camera covered except lens opening. That makes it easy to disinfect camera later. Change bag multiple times per day. If you can find 70% alcohol solution, you can use it with cotton swabs and paper towels to disinfect buttons and controls on cameras, computer keyboards and mice, steering wheels and dash controls, etc. Do not risk using alcohol or other unauthorized solutions on your coated lens glass or digital screens. Wash any pocket items, key fobs, ink pens and eye glasses with soap and water or disinfectant often and avoid touching your face, as much as possible, especially when in public.

Always keep in mind that one single 5 second mistake can kill you in this pandemic. That could be a friendly voice 3 feet from your face spreading germs, an infected cashier touching your food packaging, someone's accidental spasmodic cough or touching something with germs. Call me crazy but I personally wear a full face shield from Home Depot in public and carry a piece of cardboard to fan the air where anyone has breathed in the last few minutes. Simple conversations can transfer germs. Wearing a non-N95 mask? It may help only slightly unless you pack it with extra layers of cloth. It never hurts to overdue your protections. Experts have said that 25 percent of infected people have no clue they're infected. So it's wise to assume everyone is potentially infected. Stay 6 feet away to avoid being 6 feet under.

Hello Perry,

Thanks for the great input.  Greatly appreciated! 

Cheers,

all good for the pros, but for the rest of us who may not have the right cleaning solutions, the high end gear with good weather seals, or the skill set to clean gear without harming it, just give your gear a rest for a couple of days.  or stick it in the sun (but don't let it overheat), and any potential virus is destroyed.  apparently the virus can live for up to 72 hrs in ideal laboratory conditions, but that's not in direct sunlight, and not hot.  more likely it just decomposes on its own in 24 hours.  put your camera on a piece of white cloth to reflect sun upwards, turn it over, rotate it, whatever, so light gets in all the nooks and crannies, and you'll kill any possible virus particles present.  a light cleaning with a clean damp cloth as advised by the manufacturer is always advised to help keep out dust and whatnot, but i urge caution when it comes to using cleaning solutions.  keepin it simple.

note: glass, like in windows, blocks most of the harmful (in this case helpful) UV light, so either open the window or put the camera outside for best results.

I'm not saying that you are right or wrong. But I have read from several reliable sources that sunlight does not kill the coronavirus. Apparently, the UV rays are not strong enough.  I wish I knew what to believe.

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