Photography in Ontario

I first wrote this blog entry on February 12th. It’s now May 7th, and Ontario has been under a Stay at Home order since the middle of April. I came across an amazing blog post by Ten 2 Ten Photography that goes into much more detail about Photography Safety during COVID. I recommend everyone read it, and make sure to come back here about the meaning of Zones and Restrictions in Ontario.

February 12, 2021:

Portrait and Wedding Photographers (also known as retail photography) have been closed since December 26, and even before that in some areas of the province, due to COVID-19. Fortunately, things are beginning to reopen, but photographers must still be diligent.

Of course, whenever the government makes an announcement, there’s an hour or two of homework that needs to be done to clarify what it means for a person’s business. I’ve created this FAQ for photographers to help everyone out.

When can I reopen my portrait and wedding photography business (also known as retail photography)?

You can reopen when your Public Health Unit (PHU) Zone is red or lower. There are four colour zones – Green, Yellow, Orange and Red. There is no specific mention of photography guidelines in the Green, Yellow or Orange e-laws, but it would be best to follow the red zone guideline below.

In the e-laws for the red zone, it specifically states:

Source: Schedule 2, Section 17

If you are under a Stay At Home Order or in a Grey Zone, you cannot open.
Source: Section 66 of Schedule 2 (scroll backwards to find it)

How do I know in which zone I am located?

Please check for your current PHU zone.

I have a home studio. Am I allowed to bring in clients?

Ultimately, that is a personal choice you have to make. The guidelines as posted do permit your studio to be open whether it be in your home or in a commercial building. Your home studio would be considered a commercial space, and you must have a COVID safety plan in place. It must be posted on your website and be available for your clients, employees and/or health inspectors to review.

It’s always best to check with your local Public Health Unit if you are unsure of anything. 

You can create your safety plan using this template:

Are my clients required to wear face coverings?

On the Ontario Website, it indicates that a person can take off their face covering temporarily to receive services that require a face covering to be removed. Although it doesn’t specifically mention photography, it stands to reason that a client would remove their face covering to be photographed.

If you have a makeup artist or hair stylist that comes to your studio, he or she must wear Personal Protective Equipment. The client is able to remove their mask for the purpose of makeup application or hair styling.

Please review this post regarding makeup artists by Jennifer Turner.

Source: Schedule 2, Media Industries Section, #17

Clients should remain masked until it is time to be photographed. Children under the age of two are exempted from wearing a face covering.


What PPE should I wear?

The Ontario Government website indicates that workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) that protects their eyes, nose and mouth when they must come within 2 metres of anyone who is not wearing a mask or face covering or separated by plexiglass.

My suggestion is to wear a mask/covering that properly covers your nose and mouth and purchase a pair of clear safety glasses, especially if photographing small children and newborns. You can adjust the diopter on your viewfinder to adjust for the variance.

How many people can I have in my studio?

This depends on the overall square footage of your space. The general rule is that you must limit capacity so that patrons can be 2 metres apart, if not in the same family. Please check the Rules for All Business section of your colour-coded zone here:

I also recommend consulting the Gatherings and Close Contact recommendations on the Ontario Website for your PHU’s colour zone:, however, if the recommendation is 10 but your studio space will not allow for that, then it would be lower of the two numbers.

How many people can I photograph outside?

For this, I would advise to consult the Gatherings and Close Contact recommendations on the website for your PHU’s colour zone: I also recommend that the group all be of the same bubble or family.

What cleaning protocols should I have in place?

Completing your COVID safety plan will answer this question. In a nutshell, anything that the client has touched or breathed upon must be disinfected before being used with another client.

I hope that you have found this helpful. I wish everyone the best with their reopening.

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