June 3, 2020

Switch to Manual workshop restart

The COVID lockdown measures have started to ease. How we are going to keep you safe if you attend an Edinburgh Photography Workshop session

The last few months have seen a pause in our workshop programme, firstly due to my broken ankle and then with the COVID lockdown. The Scottish Government has released a document that lets us know how we can expect to see the current measures start to unlock. On 28 May, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that we had moved to Phase 1 of the roadmap. As a result, I can restart in a limited way the Switch to Manual Workshop. I thought it would be good to share with you the process I went through to ensure that clients will receive a safe experience.

User Feedback

I am conscious that potential customers will need to feel confident that they are going to be safe. Before I decided how to restart, I wanted to get feedback from people who have already attended a Switch to Manual workshop. I have to thank the group of people who responded to a survey that I sent out asking some questions about what measures would provide a safe experience.

I had 45 responses to the survey, which gave me some great information. Pre-lockdown we started the workshop in Cold Town House and ended in Holyrood 9A, two pubs in Edinburgh. In the early phases of the roadmap, pubs won’t be able to open, so I asked if people would be happy to have these sessions delivered through a Zoom meeting. 85% of the respondents would be satisfied with this method of delivery. I have already been offering virtual courses during lockdown with fantastic feedback, so this felt validation that it’s something that can work.

There was strong support to wearing of personal protective equipment during the workshop. Over 88% would feel safe with wearing masks. The Government is recommending that masks are worn where it is challenging to keep physical distancing and being indoors. While we are always going to be outdoors during the workshops, I think it is better to be safe than sorry. I have bought a supply of washable masks for me to wear during the workshop that you can see modelled in the image at the top of the post. At the end of the workshop, I will need to touch clients memory cards so that I can transfer them to my computer. When I do this, I will be wearing single-use gloves after using anti-bacterial spray on my hands.

I do like to show additional concepts during the workshop, which sometimes involved touching cameras. 78% of respondents told me that they would be comfortable in me continuing to do this, as long as I could physical distance. I will be producing some material on the laptop to reduce how much I need to touch cameras. Where it isn’t possible, I will again be using an anti-bacterial spray and single-use gloves to prevent the spread of the virus.

Once bars are allowed to open, there is limited support for starting and ending in the two establishments. I am going to be working with the two bars to understand their restart plans and only when I am comfortable that they can provide a safe environment, will I return to a fully face-to-face workshop.

The one area where there wasn’t support from the respondents was in pricing. During the early phases, I can only operate by meeting clients from one other household. In effect, this would guarantee the sessions as being one-to-one experiences. Usually, I would charge a premium fee to ensure this. I have listened to the feedback, and I will not be charging any extra during the lockdown period for a one-to-one Switch to Manual session.

Developing a strategy

Armed with customer feedback, the next approach I took was to examine the Scottish Government roadmap to look at ways that I could run a workshop and maintain a safe environment. The roadmap document identified nine key areas of life that would be impacted by the changes. Some of these, such as Health and Social Care, would have no impact on restarting workshops. There are four areas; Getting around, Working or running a business, Shopping, eating and drinking out, Gatherings and occasions; that did feel as if they would have impacts.

You can see the result of the analysis on a new COVID-19 page I have added on the Edinburgh Photography Workshop website. For each of the areas and each phase of the roadmap, I have identified the way we can be compliant. I have done this not just for Switch to Manual workshops but also for our Landscape and Seascape, Night Photography and Private Tour workshops.

Following the analysis of the phases, I was able to re-design the workshops to meet the safety requirements and provide an enjoyable learning experience. Based on this process, I can restart the Switch to Manual workshop during phase 1 with some changes. From today the user experience will be;

One-to-one sessions (or multiple attendees if they are from the same household).

Workshops are only available to people who live within 5 miles of Edinburgh.

We will have a Zoom session at 7 pm the night before the workshop to help you understand how your camera works and some additional tips.

During the workshop in Edinburgh’s Old Town, I will wear gloves and masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

At the end of the workshop, I will copy photographs taken to my computer for the final session.

At 5 pm on the evening of the workshop, we will have a second zoom call. During this session, I will show you how to copy photographs from your camera. We will then look at some simple editing techniques using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

External validation

The final step in the process to ensure a safe workshop was to obtain external validation of the plan. Before working as a photographer, I was a project manager with a large bank. Large industries tend to have groups where organisations can share information as well as having regulators who will provide expectations. As a small sole trader, I don’t have this same network to ensure good practice, so instead, I have reached out to several Scottish Government organisations such as Visit Scotland and Business Gateway to discuss the restart plan.

It was fantastic to have a phone call with an advisor from Business Gateway who gave me some excellent feedback that has given me (and hopefully future clients) confidence that the plan is robust.

Book now

I hope that you feel comfortable after reading this that I am going to provide a safe experience. If you are interested in learning new photography skills, as well as helping a local business, you can book now at http://bit.ly/S2M_EPW.

Don’t forget; I have set up a Virtual Classroom on the Edinburgh Photography Workshop website. You can book a personal one hour webinar to help you with any aspect of your photography, including camera advice, Photoshop and Lightroom tips or portfolio reviews.

If you’d like to buy one of my limited edition prints, they are available at richdysonphotography.com

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