Shooting During the Pandemic: How To
As studios are reopening and restrictions are gently lifted, the fashion world is pressing on and shoots are beginning to take place again.
Shooting under Covid regulations though is tricky and requires a lot of planning. We spoke to a handful of producers who have shot during the pandemic and asked them for their tips and experiences for navigating this unique time.
Step 1: Choose Your Space Wisely
It is important to use a space that allows for social distancing between crew members.
Ari Barnett, Creative Producer at Boll & Branch, shares that “we always keep crew size vs location size top of mind.” Outdoor locations are usually the best option for accommodating this.
However, if indoor locations are necessary, studios are the best way to go. Michelle Priano, the Executive Producer of Content and Creative and Alex Barinka, Head of External Affairs at Verishop, share their “heavy reliance” on studios. Particularly as they are a smaller start-up, studios have helped hugely as they supply everything with the exception of PPE.
Step 2: Get Organized
Ensure that you have a specific Covid-19 policy that includes regulations and guidelines for all crew. One way to do this is to assign a safety officer who is responsible for implementing all guidelines while on set. Mateen Mortazavi, the Executive Producer and Founder of Dirty Pretty Productions, discusses the necessity of having every crew member sign a waiver upon entering the set and taking down their temperatures, adding that waivers are “super important” and help to show the client that you’re serious.
Spatial organization is another important thing to consider. Mateen speaks of setting up hand washing and sanitizing stations and also includes the idea of having “mask break” spots since wearing a mask for two days straight can be taxing.
Step 3: Consider Your Crew Carefully
Crew size is an essential consideration to make when planning a shoot. Mateen aims to keep his crew to a maximum of 10 people. Some helpful ways that he did this include using crew members with multiple skills. For example, a “makeup artist who can also do hair.” Another tip he shares is not to have any assistants for hair and makeup and to limit the photographer’s assistants to one.
Mateen also suggests asking agencies to put forward models who live together as another way of being safe. If this isn’t possible, he requires that models have been in the state or country for at least 2 weeks already.
Another option, as shared by Ari, is Zoom. As the creative producer, although initially a challenge, Ari chose to attend shoots virtually so as to minimize the number of people on set. While strange at first, she adds that “I am able to see my crew and set and every image that is captured. I really feel like I am on set while a shoot is running.” If possible for any crew roles this is a good option to ensure people’s comfort and safety on set.
Step 4: Budget Well
Budgets are no stranger to us when planning a shoot. However, extra consideration is necessary during Covid not only for money but for time too.
A safety compliance officer, individually wrapped food, PPE and cleaning and sanitation products are all items to consider when budgeting. Mateen shares that he usually budgets $2-300 dollars for this equipment.
Due to the limited number of people allowed on set, shoots can often be staggered over multiple days. As a result, it is important to consider the length of time a shoot will now take and plan accordingly.
Verishop has been conducting a lot of home shoots which eliminates this consideration, but requires a different kind of pre-production planning. The company said they worked with agencies to identify models who could shoot themselves or had a photographer in their household, and could take direction while managing everything from lighting to hair and makeup, and receiving and returning samples. Home shooting is a creative option for socially-distant photo shoots.
Step 5: Get Creative!
When asked if Covid had affected her creatively, Ari replied “Not in the slightest. Restrictions always force one to think more creatively, if anything!” Michelle makes a similar point, sharing that her experience has been quite positive during the pandemic.
Some ways that Verishop has been creative during Covid include creating fun content on instagram such as livestream videos including cooking, music and talks. Michelle explains that this contributes to who they are as a brand and makes the experience fun for customers and for employees too. She adds that Covid has forced them to “think outside the box” and that normally they “would just do editorial shots of our clothes but now we’re thinking of new ways to shoot. We just want people to have fun.”
While Covid introduces a number of new things to consider and handle, we hope that these tips shared by these 3 producers will prove helpful. And as Ari notes, “this period of shooting has really proven what is possible in our industry, it is pretty remarkable.”
Mixer would like to thank Ari Barnett, Michelle Priano, Alex Barinka, and Mateen Mortazavi for sharing their experiences and helpful insights.
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