As lockdown restrictions are finally easing, freelance models, photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists are (understandably) eager to get back to working on shoots. However, the close contact required means that extra strategic planning is needed so that things can run as safely as possible.


I spoke to two Freelancer Club members to see how getting back to work has gone for them since lockdown.


As photographer and videographer Alex Warren explains, communication is key:


I made sure that a few weeks prior to shooting we all had a Zoom meeting to make sure everyone understood the guidelines set out by the Government and the Association of Photographers, so both crew and the models knew exactly what they could and couldn’t do on set. Hand sanitising stations were put up at every external entrance and PPE was worn by all crew at all times.


Evidently, the measures required vary greatly depending on the set of the shoot.


My latest shoot was for a holiday home rental company. The property had floor to ceiling doors and windows which allowed us to keep the set well ventilated whilst the models were shooting. We only shot the models in the large main living space and outdoor areas to allow us to keep as much distance as possible between the crew and the models, making sure everyone was as safe as possible.


Whilst this set was fairly ideal for Alex’s last shoot, it’s clear that this can’t always be the case. 

people wearing mixed masks

Natasha Pinder is a model from London, who’s done two shoots since lockdown was lifted. She’s been taking Ubers to and from shoots and sanitising her hands “like a crazy person”. 


She describes the disparity between different sets:


“I’ve noticed MUA’s really stepping up their game in terms of PPE - I’ve seen on Instagram stories etc. Then again, I’ve also seen stories with rooms filled with models and MUA’s!”


It’s also important to recognise that models are particularly vulnerable, as they come into the most close contact with stylists and photographers. 


Natasha describes her struggles with social distancing on a shoot:


“The photographer didn’t seem to have much spatial awareness. He did lean in too close to us when giving direction but I just tried to keep my distance. It’s quite awkward and uncomfortable when someone doesn't respect the social distancing guidelines, as no one wants to be that person going on about coronavirus... But I feel that as the shoot day progresses, the guidelines increasingly get ignored.”


This shows how, in some cases models are having to take extra responsibility to ensure measures are met appropriately.


“I had to tell the photographer not to book HMUA, as he was going to! If I hadn’t told him I can do my own makeup, he would’ve booked one...”


Whilst everyone is grappling with the post-lockdown changes, it’s really crucial that every individual does everything in their power to minimise risk on shoots. 


Here’s a checklist to prepare yourself for returning to work safely:


  • Be well equipped with PPE and hand sanitiser

  • Sanitise your phone and other equipment regularly

  • Read up on the Association Of Photographers’ coronavirus guidance 

  • Propose a zoom meeting prior to shooting to ensure an agreed-upon code of conduct

  • Plan your travel carefully in advance (avoid public transport where possible)

  • Request air breaks and maximum ventilation at the venue

  • Don’t be afraid to speak up to if a co-worker breaches social distancing