COVID-19 and Property Photography.posted on 9 April 2020
How to best proceed with contract workers who provide services for the marketing of property, during the COVID19 pandemic and how homeowners can assist service providers entering their residence.
The marketing of a property involves many individuals.
During the COVID19 pandemic, it is prudent to consider how we, as a group of sole traders and small to medium businesses can best continue working (whilst that is an option) and maintain the best level of protection for ourselves and our communities.
Though workers within Estate agencies will receive advice from state and national bodies addressing their unique issues. The less obvious in the industry such as contractors or service providers may be forgotten, or at least divided and left alone to work out strategies.
Intended to cover Photographers but also pertains to the following property professionals:
- Trades people
- Property stylists
- Floor planners
- Pest and Building inspectors
Who’s Entering your premises?
These types of workers often do not come from a traditional ‘workplace’. Instead, our workplace is the home or work site of other people.
Given the nature of their work, many of these workers spend a reasonable amount of time at a property where there may be other people. In the case of a vacant property, the guidelines below will be different.
The transmission of COVID-19
The NSW Government definition of transmission:
Person to person spread of coronaviruses generally occurs between people who are close contacts with one another. A close contact is typically someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, with a person that was infectious.
With this definition in mind, we need to take immediate steps to ensure the best possible safety for ourselves and for our communities. We need to consider the following:
- All work that is typically conducted in a residential setting, or a commercial site where other people live or work.
Following is a list of suggested guidelines based on the current research from international medical sources. This information is for our shared benefit, so please share with staff, friends and clients for everyones wellbeing.
Personal responsibilities for Photographers and Workers:
- Do not attend a work site if you are feeling unwell or exhibiting any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser at the beginning of a job, at the conclusion of a job and more often if you meet any regular criteria for hand washing, or if you accidentally touch your face.
- Carry your own hand towel or paper towel to dry your hands. Any disposable products you bring into a property should be removed and disposed of by you. You may also wish to supply your own soap.
- Keep your personal equipment as clean as possible and take in only what you require. For example, as a photographer you need you camera, flash and tripod but, don’t need to your whole camera bag inside – ie. place, lenses, spare batteries and memory cards in pockets. This reduces the risk of your equipment acting as a fomite which is a surface that can carry infectious micro-organisms.
- As far as practicable do not touch items and surfaces in the property.
Personal responsibility of Agents and Property Managers:
- Advise any resident or worker who is either over 65 years of age, or who has any serious underlying medical condition or compromised immunity should ideally leave the premises whilst workers are on site. If this is not possible, or if a homeowner was uncomfortable with leaving a property entirely, they may still improve safety for themselves and the worker/s by waiting in the yard whilst work is completed inside, set up a chair on the veranda, or wait in their car.
- If the person would normally be present to provide access, they can arrange with the worker to open up and then leave, or they may have the agent provide access, or have the worker collect a key.
- If several people wish to be around for the preparation of their homes, particularly for photography. There are still work-arounds for this – we recommend vendors who have specific ideas, to put these ideas into words and pictures – put together an email for your agent or send directly to the worker you wish to communicate with.
Photographers & videographers are able to provide sample work for selection or approval, but this can slow down the process.
- If any person who resides in the property is unwell at the time workers are due – it is the responsibility of those people to advise the agent and/or worker. Sensibly if the nature of the illness is not transmissible it may be fine for work to proceed, but it would still be wise to let the agent and worker know, and where appropriate to have the unwell person off site during the work.
- If any person residing at a property is in self isolation, any work inside the property should be postponed immediately. If work was completed during a time of self-isolation, but before the person knew (ie they have been asked to self-isolate because they were recently in contact with a known case of COVID-19), the worker/s MUST be informed asap.
How homeowners can assist the Photographers, Videographers, Floor Planners & Stylist.
Leave if possible
If you are able to leave your property whilst the photographer is on site, it will assist in curbing the spread of any potential infection.
Anybody over the age of 65, or with a serious underlying medical issue should ideally vacate the property during the shoot. If this is not possible, it may be worth postponing.
If anyone is the house in in self-isolation the photoshoot must be cancelled.
Photographers should wash hands on arrival and upon completion of the job.
You will likely find that your photographer will be carrying their own hand towel and soap or hand sanitiser.
You may also wish to provide facilities for hand washing and drying. It is recommended that you do not share a hand towel between non-family members.
Correct preparation of your property will mean the photographer can spend less time on site, and get the best possible images to showcase your home.
Have it neat, tidy before the worker arrives. They are advised to not touch anything inside your property.
This includes having beds made, no laundry on the clothesline or around the house, and having surfaces as clean and clear as possible.
Checklist for property owners:
What YOU must do prior to property marketing commencing.
Under normal circumstances, the photographer and/or agent will go from room to room to do the final preparation of the space. Given the current situation, it is mandatory to do these things yourself, before the worker arrives.
- Open blinds
- Turn on lights and lamps
- Remove items considered ‘clutter’ such as mail, tissue boxes, keys, remote controllers, and other loose items that you would not want people looking at on the internet
- Consider packing away personal photographs now. Some small framed prints can make a space look homely, but large photos are something we are often asked to remove.
- Declutter shelves, windowsills and benches
- Hide garbage bins inside and out
- Declutter and clean bench-tops
- Empty sink, remove dish racks, washing liquid, tea towels etc.
- Remove any loose unnecessary items – if your children have toys in the living area you may arrange them neatly or place them out of view.
- Remove day to day items such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toilet brush, any cleaning products, or untidy toilet paper (a neat roll on the dispenser is fine)
- Check towels – if they look wrinkled, wet, grimy or mis-matched, it is preferable to have no towels
- Usually it is better to remove floor mats, so the flooring is visible clearly
- Any items you remove from the bathroom can be placed in the hallway just outside the door (unless you have a beautiful hallway that will also be getting photographed).
- Ensure bedding is neat and tidy – really check that blankets and quilts are neat, that sheets are not hanging down at the side or base of the bed and that pillows are neat and tidy.
- Also check from the doorway (the most common place where we would set up the camera) to be sure that there are no loose items visible under the bed.
- Check bedside tables and remove from sight any tissue boxes, remote controls, phones, chargers, digital clocks or any other items that you would not like people to look at on the internet – this can include anything from your reading glasses, your gold watch or your Ventolin inhaler.
- In a child’s room please ensure toys are either packed away or arranged neatly.
- Tidy lawns and garden beds
- Clear paths and driveways
- Hide pet bowls, toys and beds – if you have a dog and you are able to, take them out during the shoot
- Remove bikes, pool and outdoor toys (if you have a trampoline try to move it to a corner of the yard where it will be as out of the way as possible for photos)
Please follow the government restrictions in your area regarding numbers of people at an indoor gathering. Currently in Australia, every person should have 4 square meters. Please consider this if there is more than 1 worker attending a property, and also count people living or working on site. Most importantly use good judgment, and enter ever work site in the mindset that you may be an asymptotic carrier of COVID-19. By protecting yourself, you’re protecting your community.
Thank you to Karen Brown of ImageSky for assistance in compiling this information. ImageSky is a Property Photography servicing Newcastle, NSW Australia.
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