How to Safely Set-Up Your Studio and Business
One of the things that we have to consider when we're creating a studio space is how safe is it for our clients. You know a lot of this can seem like really sort of you know, too much information but we have to have all this in place to protect ourselves and our business. You know we're not just talking about how we pose and handle babies safely, we're talking about creating that safe environment, that safe studio, but then also putting business practices in place that can help protect us as well. Two of the most important things that we need to have as photographers are insurances and client agreements. Your client agreement has to comply with your Country's legal system. Really really important. And you have to know that your agreement, if you have an American agreement, it's not gonna stand up in a court of law in Australia. You have to, like I said earlier, you have to speak to a lawyer, to a legal professional and get the right advice for what it is that you are doing. Sanitizing ...
your studio, really really important. When a parent is told, when they bring their baby home, they're told you know, there's certain hygiene, there's certain things that they have to do, they have to sterilize their bottles, their dummies, all of those things, they have to wash everything. You know babies can't protect themselves against you know, a lot of the bacteria's and things that are out there, and if we've got you know, different people coming in and out of our studios everyday, we don't know what sort of, you know, things or places that they've come into contact and what sort of germs that could potentially be spread. So if a baby's in my studio and it comes into contact with anything throughout that session, I'm gonna make sure that that is cleaned, that is washed, all my surfaces are wiped down, my floors are wiped down. I often like to shoot in bare feet. If my toenails are manicured properly. My feet are clean now. I don't want to have dirty feet through my session because my clients are gonna see that. Making sure that everything is clean and tidy is so important because for example if I'm gonna spend a lot of money in a shop, I'm gonna spend the same amount of money that it costs someone to come and hire me. When I go into that shop I'm expecting a certain standard. Certain level of cleanliness, certain level of professionalism and tidiness. Don't wanna walk into an environment that's cluttered, that's dirty. Your clients might need to use the bathroom. If you're in a home studio space, your bathroom needs to be clean. Your floors need to be clean. All of those things are so important. When I walk into a new place for the first time, I do actually look at how clean a bathroom is. It's crazy but I do. I wanna see clean surfaces, especially if I'm bringing a brand new baby and I've been told that I have to keep everything, you know, sanitized especially during that first month. Smoke detectors and safety switches. When we're working with electrical equipment in our studios, we've got heaters, we've got lots fibers going through the air and fluff so heater could come into contact with a blanket or a fluff or even checking at the back of the heaters where the fans are making sure that there's, you know, that's nice and clean. And it's not got all that fluff and sort of wooly fibers that are coming off your blanket stuck to the back of it. Smoke detectors are also important obviously in every home but also in every business as well. And the safety switches. In Australia we have to, we have to have you know, safety switches in all of our homes, it's sort of like, it's a requirement. But yeah, making sure that you have all of those things in place and then fire extinguishers. I don't know many studios that have a fire extinguisher in them but we have to have them. You should have a first aid kit and you should have a fire extinguisher in case that something goes wrong. Let's just say a toddler bumped over a light, it smashed it's electricity, sparks caught on a blanket, you've got a fire, I don't know. I've heard of so many people burning oils in their studios. So therefore you're gonna have like a lighter in there or matches. If you've got candles burning, oils in there, and they come into contact with anything, or they get bumped or knocked over, you have to be so aware of the potential dangers. Household poisons. If you do have a home studio and your clients are using your bathroom, do you have a cupboard in there that's got some poisons in there? What if they're taking a toddler or a sibling that's toilet training or what have you to the toilet and they open that cupboard. Making sure that you know, whatever... Whatever sort of precautions you take for your own children, you're taking for other peoples children as well and putting things like that out of reach. I don't have any particular, I don't have any actual liquid products or anything in my studio, in terms of cleaning products it's all stored away away from my clients. So that's really important as well. And when you are using certain cleaning products, some people are a little, you know, aware of the potential harms of those products as well. They might be, I don't know if you're using a lot of bleach, they might come in and smell that, things like that. But keeping all of those potential poisons away from that studio environment because if you are focused on photographing a baby and there is a toddler in your area or other children, or anything like that, you wanna make sure that they're not gonna come into any direct contact with those. And especially if there is any burning oils or scented things in your studio, I know some people like to do those. Having them completely out of reach. I don't have any of those things in my studio. I don't for a number of reasons. Some people might be allergic to certain things, or they might just be, I don't know, it might make them feel a little off. I know my sister hates the smell of lavender. I quite like it, but I know if she comes to my house and she can smell lavender she's gonna let me know. And it can make a mother feel a little unwell, like can make them feel a little woosey if there's an empowering smell in there that they're not comfortable with. So just be aware of that you might be making your studio smell beautiful but it also could potentially make someone feel quite you know, unwell and uncomfortable. Alright. Safety glass. I have big glass doors in my studio. We replaced our garage door with sliding glass doors. They're big, they have safety glass in them, 'cause any child can come up and run and bang on my windows and I don't want any you know, anything to sort of happen there. I've also got the strips that identify that there's glass there. My brother in law when he was younger ran into a glass door and you know, cut himself really badly and that could potentially happen in your studio space, especially for people that are coming there for the first time and are not familiar with that environment. And attached shelving. We have beautiful shelves, beautiful big tall shelves in my studio space that my husband has built and they're so big and they're so heavy, but because he's personally built them, we've made sure that they're attached to the wall. When you buy shelving it usually comes with an attachment at the back so you can screw it to a wall. Attach them. If a child climbs on a shelf and that shelf falls down and you know, it takes a split second. The weight of a child can pull a set of shelves down very quickly and when you think about the props and things that we have on our shelves, a lot of them aren't that heavy, some are but some aren't. Especially if you've got a lot of fabrics and things on there. They're gonna be easy for them to be pulled down. Safety gates on stairs. If you do have a studio space and you have a separate toilet or a separate entry area, if there's stairs in your house, please protect those stairs. Protect your clients from those stairs. I have a set of stairs in my house and it's right next to the entry to my studio and all toddlers love stairs, and I freak out, and then even when the parents say to me oh no they're fine on stairs, I'm like yeah, not on my watch. And it's funny even you know, coming up and down my driveway there are stairs and I always say to them please be careful on the stairs. Safety standards on all my studio equipment. I have change tables in there, I have furniture in there, I have lots of different things in there. I have backdrop stands, I have backdrop systems. You know we have to be really careful that all of those things comply with certain safety standards. In Australia we have the Australian safety standards board. In America, you have one as well which I'll bring up the website in a moment for. But you have to ensure and you have to check routinely that all of those wall mounts are you know, still secure. They haven't come loose at any time, I have a backdrop system that's an electronic one and it's attached to the wall. When it was screwed in I know that it was screwed into studs. So it's nice and secure but we still check it occasionally. And also if you've got chains on pulley systems make sure they're out of reach of children. You only have to turn your back for a second and one of those can go around a toddlers neck and they can slip and it can injure them and cause all sorts of problems. So yeah, when we go back to those client agreements, and I keep saying how important they are. In Australia my lawyer Deb Thomas, she actually does do a client agreement and they're based on you and your business. They're based on what your business, you know, does, what it involves, and it's set up specifically for you but like I said before, an agreement that was made in Australia is not necessarily gonna stand up in a court of law in America or so you've got all the other Countries. But it's contacting someone that can help you find the right client agreement and do you know what I love about my client agreement? Down in the bottom it's actually got a copyright on it. I feel confident in handing that client agreement over to my clients knowing that it's actually copyrighted to the law firm that wrote it. They're not thinking that I just came up with an agreement you know, all on my own, I just wrote all these terms and conditions down all on my own. They're seeing that it's an actual legal document. It helps make them feel more confident in signing that document. In the U.S.A. there is Rachel Brenke who is, who has the, she's the LawTog. She has so many different you know, documents and things like that that can help businesses and if you are unsure, email her. She is a wealth of information. Yeah.
[Woman In Audience] Kelly I just wanted to point out that for people who do purchase the class, you are gonna be able to have all the slides that Kelly is going through as part of the class and so for example, those would have the links into those documents. But again, these are great, people and places to contact. Do you have any sort of just a few things off the top of your head that go into these client agreements, like the topics that people should be considering or looking for?
Yeah, sure, it's... You know my client agreement is a little different to most studios because it covers me around the world. And it actually took a long time for the particular lawyer that did it to create it, but based on so many different you know, Countries and their particular laws. So I know that mine, it has my terms and conditions in it. It has a section about how I use those photos. It has a section in there about copyright. It has a section in there about... You know like how long those images will be saved for. It has so much information in there but it has areas where the client can agree and not agree. It's an agreement between me and the client. If a client says to me, I don't want my images posted anywhere on social media, I have to respect that. There might be reasons why. I actually get a little frustrated when I see posts on social media going the client won't let me post any of my photos, what's the point. We don't know what their personal situation is. We don't know if they have had some previous problem that's made them very aware of the situation. I once photographed a wedding and the bride came to me for her newborn shoot about 18 months after the session and she was in a very bad relationship. And I didn't think that when I photographed the wedding, I thought they were really happy. Anyway he was physically abusive to her. He no longer knows where she lives and doesn't even know that she's had her baby at that point, so she didn't want anything shared on social media because she's scared for her life. When we're working with our clients we have to give them what it is that they want but understand you know, their situations and not cast any judgments. But our client agreements means that they're agreeing to our terms and conditions and things like that. So if anything does go wrong later on down the track, you do have a signed document that says that they agreed to your terms and conditions. But making sure that it's done specifically for you and your business and in your Country, in your state, in your area, is so important because it's there to protect you.