COVID Safe Sports Portraits – Tottenham Hotspur, London

With lockdown in full force it’s been a long while since I shot anything sport related. Pre-Covid19 this was the main focus of my photography, it felt like every week I was shooting a football, rugby or cricket player. Unfortunately though those days are long behind us but hopefully these things will come back for summer 2021.

With all that in mind I was extremely excited to be commissioned to shoot some more portraits for Tottenham Hotspur. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the whole team for some years now and have always found the whole organisation to be very friendly and great to work with. (even though I am a Man U fan, but we’ll keep that between us)

This project brought, as with all shoots during Covid, a bunch of challenges on how to capture content while keeping the players safe and minimising any risk of spread.

There are a multitude of different steps taken by everyone on set to contribute to this but I thought I’d take this opportunity to outline some of the key precautions we can take as photographers (this isn’t a comprehensive list and formal assessments for each project should be undertaken):

Hands, Face, Space: Aligning ourselves with government guidelines to regularly wash our hands, always wear masks (even when outdoors) and to keep a minimum of two metres away from anyone at all times.

Disinfect equipment: An easily overlooked job this but so important to disinfect equipment. We’re constantly putting down, picking up, doing this and that and then touching our cameras. Takes a matter of seconds at the start and end of shoots but makes a huge difference.

Tethering and Zoom screen-sharing: My style of shooting often doesn’t lend itself to tethering (when you have a cable from camera to laptop showing the pictures you’ve taken), I move around quite a lot and have a fast paced style.

What is however a brilliant tool at our disposal is tethering to CaptureOne, which allows clients to see all the photographs you’re taking which makes them feel engaged in the shoot creatively, while remaining at a safe distance from you as a photographer and the model.

Couple this with Zoom screen-sharing for off-site input and you have covered all bases, this allows anyone off site to input in the photoshoot in real-time without the need to be physically present on site.
(- If any of my clients would like to discuss this in more detail don’t hesitate to give me a shout.)

Demonstrating poses: With photography, directing your model’s positioning is tricky at the best of times, throw in a face mask and trying not to touch anything which may be touched by the model and you’ll find yourself in a minefield.

My solution to this is to ask the model to step out of shot, I’ll show them where I’ll be shooting from and then demonstrate the pose I’d like them to adopt myself, then step out of frame and let them come in. This is a very easy win for us and for them to understand our creative vision.

Eye contact and body language: Following on from my previous point, photography is all about creating a connection with your subject and having that is so crucial to producing great work together.

From hand shakes when you meet and having a laugh and joke, all of this has been disrupted with Covid so it’s really important to keep body language at the forefront of your mind.
Be expressive with your hands and use eye contact to connect. If you don’t use these two body language musts, you’ll struggle breaking the barrier straight away.

Pre-production Covid check Document: I’m finding this more common as organisations are getting used to working during Covid but a ‘Return to Work’ document should be filled out by each person on set 24hrs prior to the shoot taking place. This document outlines questions such as symptom checks and contact tracing and is a good opportunity to make a final assessment on the health of everyone attending.

These are my key pointers for photoshoots during Covid, if you’d like more in-depth guidelines you can find these on the AOP website:

Here are some of the final deliverables from my Covid-safe photoshoot with Tottenham Hotspur:

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