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Conducting Gymnastics Portrait Programs Safely in the Age of Covid-19

September 14, 2020

Planning for gym portrait projects for the  2020-21 year has been in progress for the last 6 months.  Sports Photos USA is committed to us all staying safe when we visit your gym.  All our interaction will be contactless.  This means the portrait projects will be totally different this year.  Our goal, as always, will be to capture the best gymnastics portnaits we can while remaining physically distanced and masked (the gymnast doesn't have to be masked, although that might be a very appropriate--and even fun--way to pose during this time in which we find ourselves).  We will have contactless ordering at the gyms we visit and contactless electronic delivery of those orders.  Physical  products (Paintings, Posters, Blankets, T-shirts, etc.), will be drop-shipped from our labs directly to the person ordering in order to minimize the number of people handling the items.  All of our labs have told me that they are following best practices as outlined by the CDC.

Here are the key points of our health safety system:

1.  Masks -- Everyone on the SPUSA team will wear a mask which covers both mouth and nose when we enter your gym.  We will have no close contact with anyone at the gym.

2.  No public contact -- We will not meet individually with parents at the gym.  We would love to sell you awesome images of your gymnast, but we will NOT compromise safety (ours, the gymnasts, or yours) to do that.  We will not be shaking hands or standing around chatting this year.  We want to be able to make it through the season healthy.  Being laid up at home or in the hospital for several days, weeks, or even months after contracting the coronavirus would not only effect me and my team, but also the thousands of gymnasts at gyms or meets we would have to cancel.

3. Communicating with me at the gym-- If you have questions, you will be able to text me.  That text number will only be monitored during the time I am at your gym.  At any other time, you should visit the main website and click "Contact Us" to send me a message.  "Contact Us" messages come directly to my email inbox.  I will try to reply to emails within 48 hours.  

4.  Image previews -- At each gym, I will have  a  monitor displaying images of the gymnasts so that parents can see the quality of my work.  This year we will NOT be able to display images of specific gymnasts on demand.

5.  Equipment and workstation disinfection -- We will disinfect all equipment before we enter the gym .  I will be the only one to touch my equipment.  

6.  Work Area -- Our image management work area will NOT be  publicly accessible.  No gymnast, gym personnel, or parent may approach the photography work area while I am at the gym.

7.  Ordering information -- Before I arrive at the gym, I will send an email to my liaison at the gym (which the gym will, in turn, forward to you).  Remember that emails are sometimes missed by recipients, junk mail filters sometimes intercept emails before the reach you, and sometimes emails are inadvertently deleted.  In each of those situations (and probably others), you will not see the email.  The information and deadlines will apply, however, whether you see the email or not.  Please check with the gym before I arrive if you have not received the email.   

That email will contain the BASIC instructions for communicating with me and ordering at the gym as well as a link to the gym portrait information webpage.  The webpage will contain more detailed information about how we work, our packages and their pricing (both early-bird discounts and regular pricing),  timelines for delivery, and other pertinent information.  It will contain links to the ordering system for your gym.  A banner will be displayed in the gym when I arrive which will contain the same BASIC instructions as the email you'll receive before I arrive.  

The webpage will contain COMPREHENSIVE instructions for ordering.  Ordering must be completed your personal internet connected device while I am at the gym.  The order system for a gym portrait project will be open for 30 days before I come to the gym, and will close after I leave the gym.   Early-bird discounts will end at midnight on the day before I arrive at your gym.  There can be no extensions of that deadline.  If you want to take advantage of the early-bird discounts, be sure you don't procrastinate! 

8.  Failsafe -- In the highly unlikely event of some emergency requiring us to speak face-to-face, such a conversation will ONLY take place if both of us (and anyone else who is a necessary party to the conversation) properly wear masks and remain at least 6 feet apart.  If you can't wear a mask fully covering your mouth and nose AND remain properly distanced in that situation, or if you choose not to, we will NOT be able to have that coversation regardless of the emergency.  I don't intend to be difficult, but I am in a high-risk group, and do NOT want to be exposed to Covid-19  Thanks so much for understanding!

9.  Photography and Who is Eligible -- Posing young gymnasts on a portrait set requires close contact between the photographer and the gymnast.  Since we will not be in close contact this year, I will not bring a full set.  Gymnasts will be photographed on either beam or floor for girls, or on parallel bars or floor for boys.  Since I won't be approaching the gymnast, they must select the portions of their routine which they can perform best.  Be sure to chat with your coach to make sure your selections are acceptable for the photography.  To do this, the gymnast must be advanced enough to tell me what he or she will perform and then to do it.  As a general rule, I will photograph only individual competitive gymnasts (USAG level 3 and up or equivalent).  My goal will be to capture 5-7 poses of each gymnast during their portrait session.  I will select one pose, and the gymnast (and his or her coach) will select 4 more poses for compulsory-level gymnasts and 6 more poses for optional-level gymnasts.

10.  Virtual Team Portraits -- Team posing requires close contact on steroids!  Not only are the gymnasts all placed shoulder-to-shoulder, but the photographer has to be in the middle of the entire group.  I will photograph each team member individually for the team portrait.  I have been designing and creating virtual group portraits for years.  For graduation this year, I photographed the graduating seniors and created a virtual class portrait consisting of 270 graduates!  Every team member for a virtual team portrait must be at the gym at the scheduled time.  Design of a virtual portrait is based upon the number of gymnasts to be in it.  If you are late, you will NOT be in the team portrait.  No exceptions.

11.  My Apologies -- There is no one who loves what they do more than me.  I love to be involved with the coaches, gym staff, gymnasts, and parents.  I didn't ask for this pandemic, I don't like the required physical distancing and masking, and I hate having to modify what I have done for the last 30 years.  BUT . . . I want to stay healthy, I want you to stay healthy, and I want to share my talents and experience with you.  I am unwilling to sit at home and be a couch potato.  For the last six months, I have been at home digitally painting nearly 200 gymnastics portraits to enhance my skils and expand the number and quality of the products I can offer you.  So, I apologize for these rules and restrictions, but I want no part of receiving or transmitting the SARS CoV2 virus.  Let's abide by the rules and have some fun!  Thanks for understanding.


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