Weddings, Photoshoots and the Coronavirus - My Action Plan

Weddings, Photoshoots and the Coronavirus - My Action Plan



UPDATED APRIL 6, 2020.



2020 is shaping up to be a weird year so far. My inbox is constantly pinging with COVID-19 updates, and it’s enough to make any sane person feel nervous.



I can only imagine how stressful this is to anyone planning a wedding.



So, I want to do my part to help. As a small business owner and wedding photographer, a big part of me is terrified about the coronavirus and its global impact. But I want to choose compassion over fear. Preparation over worry. Will my business suffer this year? Probably. Will I still be okay? Yes, I will. And I want you to be okay too.



So, I’ve created a coronavirus action plan. And thrown in some tips and advice as well.



My goal is to be understanding, easy-to-work-with, and flexible during all this COVID-19 chaos. I operate my photography business with core values of honesty, transparency, and respect. Your health and wellbeing are my absolute TOP priority. I want to help ease your minds going forward, so you have one less thing to worry about at this time.



I am keeping up to date with all WHOand CDC recommendations and their travel advisories. I am also receiving local updates daily from The Oregonianto be aware of how the virus is impacting Portland and the greater Pacific Northwest. I am also keeping a close eye on my own health to make sure I don’t contract the virus or spread it.



How I will help



-I will be even MORE flexible with you about cancelations and postponements than it states in my contracts. I’ve gone into this in detail below. There are many unknowns right now due to COVID-19, and I want to help make photography one less stressful thing to worry about.

-I will postpone as many sessions and weddings as possible during the “Stay at Home” order in Oregon to do my part and save lives.

-I will wash my hands thoroughly before every wedding/photoshoot and avoiding touching my face during sessions.

-I won’t shake your hand or hug you when we meet. We can awkwardly wave, haha.

-I will not touch you, and I will keep a 6 ft distance during sessions at all times.

-I will choose lenses that let me stay a little further away.

-I will wear a mask during sessions/weddings.

-I frequently carpool with people to sessions; if you want, I am happy to drive separately at no extra cost to minimize contact.

-I will give you the option to Skype or facetime instead of meet over drinks/dinner in person.

-I will be honest with you about my own health and my travel schedule.

-I will minimize my personal exposure to large events, sick people, and crowded places as much as possible.



UPDATES: How Oregon’s “Stay at Home” policies impact photography



Since I originally released my COVID-19 policies on March 11, a LOT has changed. Specifically, the states of Oregon and Washington have come out with “Stay at Home” and “Shelter in Place” policies, directly impacting my photography business. I am responsible for complying with all legal social distancing laws. Otherwise, my company can be fined, or my business license can be revoked.



My stance toward all my COVID-19 policies remains compassionate, ethical, and responsible. My clients come first, and I am striving to be flexible and easy to work with. But I must also stress my responsibility for legal business practices during this difficult time.





According to contacts at Portland City Hall, portrait shoots with a couple are technically allowed, so long as the photographer stays 6 feet away. The couple or clients themselves are allowed to break that 6-foot rule so long as they are members of the same household. Elopements are also allowed, as long as the officiant stands at least 6 feet away. It is not recommended to have any other guests present.



Contacts with the Portland Police were more conservative, and said “just don’t,” when it comes to photoshoots or weddings. Many Portland wedding planners are asking all couples to postpone their weddings and shoots.



At this time, I am trying to reschedule all sessions or weddings during the “Stay at Home” order, if possible. I understand that not everyone has the option to reschedule, so I am doing my best to work with every client on a case by case basis. But if it is possible to reschedule, I STRONGLY recommend it.



Location closures



Another massive impact on photography at the moment is location closures. Even if clients DO want to move forward and do their sessions at this time, it’s essential to understand that the vast majority of photoshoot locations are currently closed.



-All non-essential travel outside the home is banned, meaning you really shouldn’t leave your house, let alone the city.

-All Oregon State Parks are currently closed.

-The waterfall corridor along the historic Columbia River Highway in the Gorge is closed.

-All Forest Service Lands in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area are closed. “It is prohibited to enter, be within, or park within National Forest System lands in the National Scenic Area,” according to their website.

-Mt Hood National Forest has closed all trails and day-use areas.

-All state campgrounds are closed.

-Towns on the Oregon Coast have made official statements asking tourists to stay away. All state parks along the coast are closed, but beaches are technically still open if you can access them.



Locations that are still open



A small handful of Portland Parks are still open. Trails at the Hoyt Arboretum and Forest Park are still open at this time. Many Portland Parks have taken steps to reduce visitors by closing gates and roads that lead to the locations, meaning that you have to hike in. “These parks remain open to those walking, rolling, or strolling. We urge all park visitors to pack out what they bring in. The road closures will continue until further notice,” according to the Portland Parks website. The following parks have road closures:



-Clinton Park

-Council Crest

-Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

-Duniway Park and track

-Hillside Park

-Hoyt Arboretum (Fisher Lane closed)

-Kelly Point Park

-Lents Park

-Mt. Tabor Park

-Pittock Mansion

-Powell Butte Nature Park

-Rocky Butte Park/Joseph Wood Hill Park

-Sellwood Park

-Sellwood Riverfront Park

-Washington Park (SW Kingston Drive - the road through the park)



Indoor photo studios like The Lightroom PDX are open for clients who live in the same household. As long as I stay 6 feet away, I can legally shoot there. The studio is disinfected after every use.



Impacts on Photography Style



Finally, I want to make a note about my photography style and lens choices. Since I am legally required to maintain a 6ft distance during sessions and weddings, I will not be able to capture images the same way as my portfolio shows. I frequently use a 35mm lens for close-up portraits and I can’t do that at this time. Please be understanding and realize that my images may look slightly different during the pandemic.



Coronavirus tips and advice



-Don’t panic! We’ll get through this!

-Be honest with others about your health and travel. Be honest with yourself. Now is not the time to pretend like you are healthy if you are feeling off. Stay home. Reschedule stuff.

-If you are getting married and have event insurance, check to see if your insurance covers anything impacted by the Coronavirus. A lot of insurance companies are sneaky and they will NOT cover stuff. It’s good to know in advance!

-If you are getting married, keep your guests posted about ways you can help them! Post on your wedding website about the virus situation in the wedding location, and tell sick guests to PLEASE stay home. Tell people what precautions you will be taking as their wedding host. Keep them updated with travel plans. Communication goes a long way. Use your wedding website as a tool!

-Include creative COVID-19 precautions during your wedding, even if things have gotten better in a few months. Cute hand sanitizers, hand-washing-stations, masks, or gloves for dancing. Maybe rent an extra-large dance floor, so people don’t have to be so close together. Space tables out more. Find ways to be extra hygienic and make people feel safe.

-Get creative about ways to include people who can’t be there. Worried that your grandparents or immunocompromized guests can’t make it? Find a way to live stream your ceremony and as much of the wedding as possible, so they can watch from afar. Or hire a videographer to capture the day for them to see later.

-Communicate with vendors as much as possible if you are considering postponing your event. The worst thing is to cancel last minute! Most of our businesses will take a huge hit this year from the virus, so preparing for slower cash flow is essential. We are trying our best to help clients, but you can help us too by being super candid about everything!

-Be open to having a smaller wedding than you originally anticipated. It could be really special! I love photographing elopements, and I’d be happy to help you plan one instead of a bigger event.

-Remember, we are all in this together. We are all a little scared. We are all getting hit economically and worried about loved ones getting sick. Be kind. Be understanding. It will go a long way!



Coronavirus FAQ for wedding clients



Postponing your wedding due to Coronavirus



I completely understand that you may need to delay your event due to travel restrictions, shelter-in-place, quarantines, fear for the health of family members, or being sick yourself. If you decide to postpone your wedding to a new date, your deposit will transfer over, as long as I’m not already booked on the new date. Please reach out to me if you need to change dates so that I can accommodate you! I’m here to help.



If you move your wedding to a date I am not available, there are two options. You can cancel, or you can choose to have an associate photographer.



-If you cancel, I will give you back 50% of your deposit, and I will also help you find a new photographer. If I can re-book your original date, I will refund the rest of your deposit.

-If you choose an associate, I will hire a talented replacement photographer to photograph the event in my place. I will still edit all your photos myself in my editing style. I will also give you a 10% discount off your total package to compensate for having a different photographer on the day of. You will still get the “Katy Weaver” experience, just with a different photographer on the day of your wedding.



Canceling your wedding due to Coronavirus



Don’t want to postpone your wedding and need to flat-out cancel due to the virus? I understand. Here are two options:



-Cancel it, and I can give you back 50% of your deposit. If I can re-book your original date, I will refund the rest of your deposit.

-OR, elope! You can have an intimate elopement somewhere in nature, away from the virus and others. You can keep your original date or change it to a new one that I have available, and we’ll transfer the deposit to the new date. We can adjust the package you already booked and create a new timeline. You can invite a smaller number of guests (or none!). I’ve photographed many elopements over the years, and I’m happy to help make suggestions, come up with locations, and guide you through creating a day that is still incredibly special.



What happens if I get sick before your wedding



If I feel sick (cough, fever, body aches) before your wedding, I will inform you as soon as possible and ask how you would like to proceed. I vow to be honest with you about my own health so that you can make an educated decision about your event. Here are three options:



-If you still want me to document the event, I will wash my hands frequently, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer hourly, and avoid physical contact with guests. We can discuss exactly what would make you feel the most comfortable.

-If you want me to stay home, I will secure a talented associate replacement photographer to photograph the event in my place. I will still edit all your photos myself in my editing style. I will also give you a 10% discount off your total package to compensate for having a different photographer on the day of.

-If you want to find another photographer by yourself, I will refund you in full, minus any engagement sessions or work already rendered. I can also help you find a replacement photographer if you need one.



What happens if I get quarantined before your wedding and cannot photograph it



If, for some reason I am quarantined (in the US or abroad), and unable to photograph your wedding, I will contact you immediately. I will give you two options:

-I can secure an associate replacement photographer to photograph the event in my place. I will still edit all your photos myself in my editing style. I will also give you a 10% discount off your total package to compensate for having a different photographer on the day of.

-OR, If you just want to work with another photographer, I will refund you in full, minus any engagement sessions or work already rendered. I can also help you find a replacement photographer if you need one.



What if I have traveled recently before your wedding?



I will be open and honest with you about my travel itinerary. If you are uncomfortable with my recent travel, let’s chat and work something out! Here are three options:

-If you still want me to document the event, I will wash my hands frequently, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer hourly, and avoid physical contact with guests. We can discuss exactly what would make you feel the most comfortable.

-If you want me to stay home, I will secure a talented associate replacement photographer to photograph the event in my place. I will still edit all your photos myself in my editing style. I will also give you a 10% discount off your total package to compensate for having a different photographer on the day of.

-If you want to find another photographer by yourself, I will refund you in full, minus any engagement sessions or work already rendered. I can also help you find a replacement photographer if you need one.



Coronavirus FAQ for portrait clients



Postponing your photoshoot due to Coronavirus



During the “Stay at Home” orders in Oregon, I strongly recommend postponing non-essential photoshoots. Please reach out, and I can send you a list of new date options. Your deposit will transfer to a new date.



Canceling a photoshoot due to Coronavirus



If you want to cancel a photoshoot due to the virus and travel restrictions/quarantines, I can return 100% of your deposit. I’m also happy to help you find a new photographer if you need one, even if its in another state.



What happens if YOU get sick before our photoshoot



If you are feeling unwell (cough, fever, body aches) before a photoshoot, please email me, and we can postpone it until you are healthier! Seriously, it’s not a problem at all.



What happens if I get sick before our photoshoot



If I feel sick (cough, fever, body aches) before your photoshoot, I will inform you as soon as possible and ask how you would like to proceed. I vow to be honest with you about my own health so that you can make an educated decision. Here are two options:

-If you’d like, we can postpone the photoshoot by several weeks. The deposit will transfer to the new date.

-If you cannot postpone, we can cancel the photoshoot, and I will return the deposit in full.



What if I have traveled recently before your photoshoot?



I will be open and honest with you about my travel itinerary. If you are uncomfortable with my recent travel, let’s chat and work something out! Here are two options:

-We can postpone our session by at least two weeks

-If we cannot postpone, we can cancel the session, and I’ll refund you in full.



Resources



World Health Organization

CDC

Live Global Coronavirus News Updates - The Guardian

Coronavirus Updates in Oregon - The Oregonian

Coronavirus in Oregon - OHSU



Contact me



If you have any other questions, please reach out and ask! I am here to help.



CONTACT ME!