Washington Reveals Guidelines for Photographers Who Want to Reopen

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has published a set of guidelines for professional photographers who want to re-open their studios as the stay-at-home order in the state is rolled back. These guidelines—the first we’ve seen from a government entity—could act as a template for photographers in other states who are eager to open back up safely.

The State of Washington published the guidelines last Friday as part of its 4-phase ‘Safe Start‘ plan to re-open non-essential services. Professional photographers—which includes studio, event, freelance, and even ‘artistic’ photographers—are part of Phase 2, and should be able to re-open in most of Washington State by June 1st.

Once your county is approved to move into Phase 2 (some already did starting May 15th), you’ll be allowed to re-open your photography studio or event photography business, as long as you establish a “written procedure” that is at least as strict as the client management and sanitation guidelines outlined in the document below.

Some of the requirements include:

  • All unnecessary paper products and decor should be removed (including marketing materials).
  • All equipment, including props, chairs, benches or anything a client might come into contact with must be frequently sanitized.
  • Clients must be booked by appointment only, allowing enough time to sanitize all equipment and common areas between photo shoots.
  • Outdoor sessions are recommended, and should be used whenever possible.
  • Photographers must maintain social distancing, using ‘no touch’ posing techniques.
  • No groups. Only one client may be in the studio/in the photography area at a time. If the client is a minor, they may have one family member with them. (Exceptions may be made for group photo shoots including only immediate family members).

You can read the full document here:

The guidelines seem reasonable, and could act as a template for re-opening photography businesses in other states. Most statehouses are probably focusing their re-opening plans on businesses like restaurants, hair salons, etc.; by sending these guidelines to your governor, it would make it easier for them to quickly establish rules and allow creatives to get back to work.

Admittedly, we’re not sure how these guidelines could possibly work for the kind of “Event Photography” we were used to before the pandemic, but it may soon be possible to start photographing small, family-only backyard weddings without the police showing up.

Image credits: Header image based on photo by Ramiz Dedaković, CC0

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