Can photographers work during Tier 4? Can makeup artists work in Tier 4? What about freelance videographers?

It was the news nobody wanted to hear so close to Christmas.

On Saturday evening, Boris Johnson announced that certain parts of the UK would move into Tier 4 lockdown.

To the freelancers who’ve been forced to close up shop yet again, I am so very sorry. In what’s been an absolutely atrocious year for many of you, I can’t imagine how difficult it is to end 2020 on this note.

To those of you who may be unsure as to whether or not you can continue working, I hope this article offers you some clarity.

Which freelancers can work in tier 4?

In Tier 4, all businesses that provide close contact and personal care services are obliged to close, even where they can be provided in people’s homes.

While the government has explicitly banned hairdressing and nail services as part of the new restrictions, one would expect that makeup artists, nail techs and beauticians are also prohibited from carrying out their services. 

What about freelancers who provide an ‘on-site service’ such as photographers, videographers and drone pilots?

Well, there doesn't seem to be any specific guidance for these freelancers on government sites.

Like previous lockdowns, Government guidelines for Tier 4 are vague and broad, which doesn’t help those looking for clear guidance with regards to whether or not they can work. Here's what we found. 


“You can leave home for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home.” 


“To help contain the virus, everyone who can work effectively from home should do so. Where people cannot do so - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing” and “public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education”


According to the Association of Photographers, different restrictions apply to photographers depending on where they work in the UK. You can check out this page for more info. 

With regards to videographers, the government guidelines simply state that some businesses can remain open for “the purposes of film and TV filming”.

It’s also worth noting that not all on-site projects are the same. A fashion shoot that involves multiple people, often in close quarters, is not the same as a property photographer taking shots of a building’s exterior or a product photographer shooting items in a studio. The interpretation of the wording is all important.

It’s therefore important that those who can work during Tier 4 follow the safety guidelines issued by the government.

“When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).”


Clients have also been compromised

Clients who often avail of freelance services will also be impacted by the new restrictions that come with Tier 4.

Weddings, a major source of business for freelance photographers, videographers and beauty professionals, have been reduced to six attendees and are only permitted to take place in exceptional circumstances (where one person is very ill and not expected to recover etc.). 

Studios, event organisers and other clients may experience temporary closure or a decrease in business during Tier 4 too, which will have a knock on effect on the availability of work for freelancers. 


Can photographers work during tier 4. Photographer at table

How will Tier 4 impact remote freelancers?

The inevitable lull that occurs across many industries in late December coupled with the closure of small businesses during Tier 4 lockdown, will likely reduce opportunities across the board for in-person and remote freelancers alike.

It’s worth remembering however, that online companies can continue to trade during tier 4 and will therefore require freelance support. We are also seeing a spike in the number of companies who are integrating a freelance recruitment strategy into their digital transformation for 2021. 

Based on the conversations we’ve had with our partners and the word from some of the leading voices in the space, the pandemic will have given more companies the confidence to work remotely and use freelancers for projects. 

Many freelancers who typically work face to face with clients, such as models, hairdressers, fashion stylists and photographers, have pivoted their offerings this year in order to provide their freelance services to clients online. 

Freelance models, for example, can take images for a website’s fashion catalogue on their phones, while a photographer directs them via Zoom. In a similar fashion, freelance makeup artists are providing clients with online makeup tutorials and courses. 

If you’re out of work due to tier 4 restrictions, it might be worth exploring how you can transfer your skills into the online space, where there may be more work available over the next few weeks.


How will this affect freelancers mental health?

2020 has been a horrific year for many freelancers. 

While some managed to cling on to regular work and pick up extra bits here and there, others have had their diaries effectively wiped out since March. The SEISS helped a percentage of freelancers cover costs but many others who were ineligible had to shoulder the financial burden.

Plunging into Tier 4 on the cusp of what is generally the highlight of peoples year, is simply awful.

While many remote workers are used to working alone, isolation has been an issue that many have battled this year.

Many freelancers have limited their social contacts to protect vulnerable family members. Others just haven’t felt comfortable meeting up with their usual social circles since March.

With Tier 4 restrictions in place, many freelancers have been forced to spend the holiday season alone, away from friends and family. 

Now more than ever, freelancers need support. 

If you’re a freelancer, consider checking in with other freelancers in your network. If you’re a client, it’s also worth reaching out to freelancers you’ve worked with this year.

A simple Christmas greeting or end of year check-in could mean the world to someone who’s feeling down or alone this Christmas. 

Please know that there’s lots of support out there that anyone can avail of should it be needed.

The Freelancer Club continues to be free source to find connections. Use the Freelancer or Projects directories to reach out to others in your area, discuss work or collaborate. Use the Community forum to ask a question and form contacts. Our recent Freelance Festive Fair helped 100's of our members connect with brands and freelancers alike - now is the time to send a message and form a bond. 

This year has been tough, but there’s light ahead.

To see the first vaccine being administered earlier this month allowed many of us to breathe a small sigh of relief. 

The end of this awful, strange, turbulent year is on the horizon.

Here at the Freelancer Club we’re going to do everything we can to help you guys get through it.

Let’s weather this one out together. 

Did you find this article valuable? Check out our piece on 'Will Freelancers Have to Repay the Government for COVID Support?'