February 2021: It's been one difficult year, probably one of the toughest for our country since 2001, and so many of us are still struggling with how to cope. For many people, photography isn't really at the top of their "things I care about right now" list. It's not even atop my own, and this is my job. So obviously, it's taken me awhile to figure out when to return to work and how to proceed safely when I do.
I'm very open about my struggles with anxiety and OCD, and I've even talked about them with some of you. A typical flu season is taxing on my health anxiety, so it goes without saying that living through a pandemic is no walk in the park. When Virginia was essentially shut down, it was out of my control as to whether or not I wanted to work. Once most states reopened last year, it seemed as though many people have been more lax about how they interact with others, and the pressure is on to get back to work or lose clients, whether I'm comfortable with it or not.
Then in September 2020, I broke my shoulder in a skateboarding accident, further complicating things. I've been out of work longer than expected (thanks to developing frozen shoulder) and had to put all shoots on hold while I regained strength and range of motion in my shoulder.
Along with my husband and my business coach, I've come up with my personal guidelines for photo sessions going forward. These are subject to change based on my comfort level, the latest ever-changing research/stats on Covid-19, the vaccination timeline, and the details for each individual shoot:
•Shipped/dropped-off product shoots will return in in March 2021 for subscribers only at this time. My shoulder still has limited strength and fatigues easily, therefore I need to space out my shooting days until it's back to normal.
•Outdoor shoots will be on hold until the end of winter. As we enter spring, outdoor shoots will go forward using a long lens and social distancing. I will be masked and the client should be masked or 10+ ft away if they are not in the shot (i.e. product/lifestyle photos).
Indoor shoots will not be taking place at this time.
I understand that these guidelines are limiting, so I ask that you remember that these are based around the latest facts and recommendations from epidemiologists, what will keep myself and my husband safe, as well as what will prevent my anxiety from spiraling out of control, . It was taking all of these into account that I was able to come up with a way to get back to work while still maintaining my personal level of safety and comfort.
The official word from the Virginia state government has no bearing on my own decisions for returning to work. The health of myself and my husband, in addition to the state of my mental health, is far more important than fully reopening before I feel comfortable. (I absolutely recognize that having this choice is a privilege.)
It's a scary thing to put this out there knowing that literally every client could walk away right now. But I also know it's the right thing to do given the current situation. I have no timeline for when I'll return to "normal" pre-pandemic work - throughout the winter season the US has continued to set and break record-high numbers of positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Sadly, the virus isn't going anywhere, so my full return to normal will likely be when a working vaccine is in my body, a solid Covid-19 treatment plan is in place, or numbers of positive cases drop dramatically. This timeline might look different for you, and I respect that, hoping you'll also respect the boundaries I've had to put in place.
Thanks for reading this! I can't wait until we can work together again!