Risk management for photography and video shoots – top tips!
There is nothing more rewarding when your photography and video projects work like a dream. The beautiful morning light you were praying for appears. The celebrity guest you paid a fortune for turns up on time, and is actually nice to work with. The client approves all your content quickly and the day after the release your work is broadcast on rolling news or making a splash in the middle of a national newspaper. But when things go wrong — and something always goes wrong — a dream scenario can turn into a nightmare pretty fast. I have taken some time to look at some of the biggest risks that projects involving photographers and videographers may face in their work and how to minimise the risks…
This sounds obvious but it is really important ahead of any project that the brief has been thoroughly checked. Receiving a call sheet 24 hours before a project allows very little time to understand what the potential risks may be on a shoot. Keeping a clear line of communication between all parties involved will reduce any issues on the shoot including the risk of overtime costs and ultimately failure to capture the correct deliverables for the project. Misunderstanding a brief may mean upset clients or offended participants so as a matter of recourse, a professional liability insurance policy should be in place in case of any legal ramifications in a failed project.
RISK ASSESSMENT & LIABILITY
Having a sturdy risk-management plan in place can help minimise the negative impact of any bad luck that befalls your business. Risk management includes everything from establishing a clear plan for communicating with clients (yes, this is the second time we’ve mentioned it — it’s important), having a system for backing up files and replacing damaged equipment and parts on the go, and protecting yourself with adequate insurance in case of a worst-case scenario. This one shouldn’t come as a surprise: slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury for all types of business. And when you’re carting around tripods and camera bags and posing subjects outdoors, there’s plenty of opportunity for someone to trip, slip, and fall. In the best of these cases, the person gets up, dusts themselves off, and is fine, however serious injury can happen, even death! Luckily, Public and Employee Liability Insurance can cover the costs associated with third-party and staff injuries like falls so ensure you have the relevant cover in this regard. Quite often this is a requirement of working at some locations like train stations and airports.
WORKING IN A RISKY ENVIRONMENT
Quite often we have a photographer sent overseas to work for charities in environments that can be dangerous. As well as of course taking into account the above risk assessment and insurance – one important piece of training may be required. Hostile Environment and Emergency First Aid Training, also known as HEFAT is a standard type of training in first aid, given to people entering hostile environments, mostly for work, and was originally devised for media operators. A wide range of subjects appropriate to working in unstable and risk-laden environments are studied which can include: war zones, natural disasters and inhospitable areas. Many frontline organisations, including international media, NGOs, aid agencies, staff from the oil and gas industry staff participate so they can work or travel in volatile areas worldwide. The syllabus can include First Aid, ballistic threats, mines, car-jacking, sexual violence, kidnap and abduction, which all sound very exciting and Jason Bourne on style, but not the kind of thing your PR team really want to experience without some formal training qualification.
CALCULATED RISKS CAN REAP REWARDS
If you have considered all of the above, then sometimes content that appears to have been created in a risky environment can be exciting, spectacular and really add value to your content. Operating drones comes with many inherent considerations with their usage – but the shots they capture can put us in otherwise unattainable locations and give us a wide view. Operating underwater gives us the ultimate point of view (POV), transporting us from the comfort of our screens to the deep blue of a coral reef. Hanging from a suspension bridge that is undergoing repairs gives us breath gasping angles and perspective and a POV those with vertigo will find unsettling. Facing a pouncing tiger in their natural environment or riding in the backseat of a Red Arrow as it flies at 700mph all give us the viewer a thrilling but safe experience. Content created to give the viewer a first person perspective will always be of interest, it’s why Instagram has become so popular and is why if you have considered all of the risks involved – you too can get shareable, spectacular and award winning results…
This blog was written by Craig Gunn, Head of Photography at TNR.
Contact the TNR Photography team at Hello@wearetnr.com to discuss your project and how to operate in risky environments, we have our safety harnesses at the ready!