Ontario photographers have been left to fend for themselves.
In each of the lockdowns in ON, photographers have been largely prevented from working. We are allowed to take on commercial clients – with stringent covid precautions in place – but the portrait photographers (those who service wedding, family, child and pet clients) have been prohibited from working, even outdoors and distanced. This is not unique to our industry, as makeup artists, hair stylists and tattoo artists have also been restricted, but it has been a significant set of handcuffs slapped on those who make their living with a camera.
In the latest reopening plan, the restrictions continue… and confusingly so. In “stage 1′, outdoor gatherings are permitted up to 5 people but photographers aren’t allowed to work with the same number, even when following all of the proper guidelines. This means that a small group of people can gather socially, just not if one of them is working a camera. Not until we’ve entered some mythical “stage 2”. Uhm… what?
In response to this, the PPOC has released a statement to the Ford government:
“The May 20th, 2021 release of Ontario’s “Roadmap to Reopening” has left photographers across Ontario confused about whether they are currently permitted to reopen.
There was no consultation requested from the Government with the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) about how Photographers can operate their businesses safely. The Roadmap only indicates that Photography Studios and Services will be permitted to reopen in Step 2 with restrictions, however, no restrictions or guidelines have been given. The PPOC has been providing COVID safety guidance to Photographers since the beginning of the Pandemic and has requested to have an
audience with the government several times over the past year.
“Individuals and families are being denied the documentation of important occasions such as graduations, engagements, weddings, or the birth of a baby by a professional photographer,” said Linda Ryma, Chair of the Ontario Region of the PPOC. “Under the current rules, social gatherings up to five people (and soon to be 10 people) are permitted to gather outside. Adding a photographer who can work from a distance would not increase any risk of COVID exposure.”
“We have been lobbying the Ontario Government since the beginning of the pandemic to provide important input about the photography industry, however, our attempts at communication have all been ignored,” indicated Jennifer Gilbert, National Director for Ontario. “It is unclear why Commercial and Industrial photographers are permitted to work, however, retail photographers (which is an outdated term) must remain closed. All we are asking is to be at the table to participate in the creation of policies for our industry.”
The Professional Photographers of Canada is Canada’s oldest and most recognized professional photography association and is considered by many to Canada’s leader in developing and maintaining the highest level of photographic excellence, and adherence to professional standards. Our central office receives a significant number of calls from potential photography clients as well as member and non-member photographers, seeking guidance as to what services are currently permitted. The Ontario government’s failure to adequately address photography services throughout the course of the pandemic has made it virtually impossible to provide answers with any degree of confidence.
The PPOC is asking to be involved in the process in an effort to eliminate the confusion that currently surrounds our industry.“
Additionally, photographers across the province have begun hitting the news outlets to better explain the situation to the public.
Hopefully, the powers-that-be finally hear us and act accordingly.