Business + Marketing

What Reopening a Portrait Photography Business Will Look Like in 2020

May 28, 2020

By Elena S Blair

© Elena S Blair

It is no secret that the COVID-19 crisis has directly impacted the photography industry, from wedding photographers bracing for a new reality to portrait photographers pivoting the face of change. Being based in Seattle, we were very careful to respect orders by closing down our business and staying home to help flatten the curve. Last week, Washington State announced its guidelines to reopen for photography studios, which spelled out how we could return to work again.

It has been so hard postponing so many photo shoots, but we are hopeful that we will enter phase 2 of the reopen process by June 1. That is when we can start photographing families and newborns again. We are all eager to get back to work, but it is essential that we do it with the public health at the forefront of our minds. I wanted to share how we plan to reschedule, reopen and put safety first.

I want to make it clear that I am not a medical expert, nor do I have direct communication with any government officials. I am simply following my county guidelines, and you need to do the same.

How we handle rescheduling

In order to simplify how you reschedule any sessions that were postponed during mandatory quarantine, I suggest having a seamless rescheduling system.

We do this by using calendar software that allows our clients to select a date and time that best suits their needs. This streamlines the rescheduling process, ensuring not only that clients actually reschedule their photo sessions but also that you are still left in control of your schedule. We use Calendly.

Make sure to be flexible and open up plenty of dates. This provides your clients with excellent customer service and helps you make up lost revenue since being in isolation. Whatever you decide to do, make it simple and user-friendly.

How we plan to reopen

I do not have a studio, so no cleaning or prepping needs to be done on my end. If you do have a studio, thoroughly disinfect. Remove any shared objects like toys. Take out any snack or water stations.

For those like me who don’t have a studio, this part of the process is simple: Follow state and county guidelines.

Only practice in parks or outdoor spaces that are legally open.

Take all payment online so that no cards or cash need to be passed back and forth.

Make sure you are communicating to your clients. E-mail any booked clients and your general e-mail list, letting them know your plan of action. This positions you as the expert and shows your clients that your business is safe, legitimate and compassionate.

How we plan to deal with a potential fall virus spike

While we hope we can take on our September-to-November sessions, we are going to encourage fall bookings to consider taking a summer spot, just in case we see a spike in COVID-19 in the fall. We want to ensure that we don’t miss our fall family photo revenue, but we also want to provide excellent customer service with this option.

How we plan to execute extreme safety

We will be wearing a disposable mask to all outdoor family photography sessions, and we will be wearing a mask and gloves to our indoor newborn photography sessions.

We will practice extreme hand hygiene and minimize touching our subjects during our sessions.

We will use longer focal lenses so that we can stay six feet away as much as possible, which will still allow us to capture images that seem like we are closer.

We will only conduct one photography session a day.

And we will not take any chances with public health. We plan to reschedule if we or anyone in our household has been sick in any way, within a two-week span of each session date. We are asking that our clients do the same. We will promise to make room in our schedule for all rescheduling needs.

Family photography is an investment, and it is an absolute privilege to be able to capture families. We do not take that privilege lightly—especially after this crisis. It has really shined a light on what matters in this world. And that is our loved ones.

We are all doing the best we can with the knowledge we have. Have grace for your industry peers and hold hope. We will get through this.

Elena S Blair is an award-winning family and newborn photographer based in Seattle, Washington. She is also an educator who co-owns Blair & Thurston Retreats and Lady Boss Workshops. She last wrote about the photo industry’s “mom with a camera” phenomenon.