Update: Wednesday 25th March 2020 | I have been watching the situation in Hong Kong closely and as the as the numbers are continuing to rise again, I have made the decision to pause my sessions, until the situation stabilises again. My family are under lock down so to speak, keeping our distance for the time being to keep us safe, and our community. Together, we can flatten that curve. Watch this space for further announcements. I am still however taking bookings for later in the year. As always, it's great to reach out if you are considering having baby photos taken, even if you are only in your second trimester....
As a mum to a 26 month old and a daughter to parent's who fall into the higher at risk category, I wanted to offer an open and honest dialogue to my personal lifestyle changes as well my revised studio policies. Everyone is worried for their people, their livelihoods and their children’s future, with the global and local concerns surrounding COVID-19 . It's important that you know, that the wellbeing of your tiny human and family, as well as our own flock, is my top priority. I am committed to continuing to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene in all my newborn photography sessions, with additional preventative measures put in place, including stricter protocols in our endeavours to reduce COVID-19 concerns where possible.
Since January, I, like most of our community here in Hong Kong have been mindful of the extra precautions required in our daily lives, necessary to reduce the risk of self exposure and curb the spread of COVID19. My approach to these increased protective measures is explained thoroughly in my phone consultations ahead of my newborn sessions, as well as detailed online in my client portal when making a booking with Lullaby Images. To educate myself on the novel Coronovirus, I have gone through the free public resources made available by the World Health Organisation, which includes three modules of an online course, 'Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)'. I have also completed an eLearning course, 'Infection Control Training - COVID 19', run by the Austrlian Department of Heath.
OUR HOUSEHOLD'S RESPONSE
I felt in additoin to this, giving feedback on my personal life and how seriousy I have taken social distancing, might help provide an insight into how Lullaby Images' has been approaching newborn photography amid the COVID19 virus. So let's start with my household. Since the end of January, we have been mindful of ensuring we are doing what we can to reduce exposure to ourselves. We are fortunate that we live in a more remote village area in Clear Water Bay, so our days are filled with small walks with my daughter and fur baby, without proximity to anyone. Just walking to the nearby beaches and parks. Other than grocery shopping for our household with a mask and a limited number of newborn sessions, I have practice social distancing pretty extremely. Shockingly though for me, other than my daughter's playgroup being put on pause, the rest of our lives don't seem to be that different to before, which only shines a light on how much of an introvert and home-body I must be in normal conditions!
During times of local uncertainty, my husband has been working from home (end Jan- mid Feb). Working from his office only when the numbers in Hong Kong had stabilised enough with less new cases being reported. His company also issued a split office team policy, with alternate mandatory work from home weeks, to reduce proximity to other colleagues. This is combined with heightened office hygiene practices implemented throughout his building and driving himself door-to-door with no exposure to public transport. In addition to this, a no travel policy has been implemented and a 14 day self quarantine for anyone who has exposure to anyone returning to Hong Kong from overseas or across the boarder. Our Nanny and cleaner who lives with us, has chosen to stay in our home on her days off for the most part. Enjoying only local village walks, again keeping social distancing. When she has needed to handle essential personal errands, we have been driving her to Sai Kung town for an hour or so, so she doesn't get exposed to public transport.
Whilst Hong Kong has done well as a community to reduce the spread and rise in number of cases of COVID19, recently, there has been a notable increase in the number of new confirmed cases due to the increased number of cases of COVID19 in other countries, which has resulted in a a rise of imported cases. As such, I am also mindful of avoiding contact where possible and known, with those that have returned back into Hong Kong from any country for at least 14 days and my husband has also reverted to working from home again, until we see the numbers stabilising again.
LULLABY IMAGES' COVID-19 RESPONSE
The launch of my new home studio services planned for January 2020, was put on pause, as well as my plan to increase the number of sessions I take on per month. This is to reduce the exposure of my household and continue to practice social distancing for our family members as much as possible. While the numbers appear to remain under control in Hong Kong, I do plan to continue taking on a limited number of sesssions (4-6 per month), however I will review this if the numbers start to rise again. With regards to baby safety, I have always practiced newborn safe practices when it comes to health (which includes newborn posing safety, but that is a whole other post and subject matter to delve into another time). Part of my protocols have always involved changing my clothes and thoroughly washing my hands before handling a baby; sterlising the floor area where I set up my newborn posing gear; keeping hand sanitiser nearby to use throughout the session itself; and as a precaution, re-scheduling a session if I or anyone in my household has been feeling even the slightest bit under the weather in any way. In addition to this, I only ever schedule one session a day, which ensures that all fabric and props are thoroughly washed and disinfected after each and every newborn photography session. Since COVID-19, in additional to my normal newborn safety practices and the measures implemented in my personal life as outlined above, I have also been disinfecting the outside of my suitcase and changing into a new surgical face mask, before entering a client's home space.
Families with a newborn photography session with Lullaby Images are asked to notify me of any signs of communicable illness (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, etc) for any members of your household. You will be asked to reschedule your session. The same policy is of course also applied to me. In addition to this, I will ask families to complete a pre-session questionnaire to give me feedback on their household's situation and response, with regards to what measures have been taken to reduce exposure and ask for information on any working parent's company policies. As well as ensure that no one in that household has been exposed to anyone who has just returned back into Hong Kong within 14 days (this includes, co-workers, family, friends of anyone in the household).
Whilst it is generally recommended to book a traditional posed newborn photography session within 14 days of the birth, if the numbers do not stablise locally again, I may recommend scheduling sessions in a window 14 days after returning home from the hospital and up to around 30 days new. For lifestyle newborn photography, the window will be 14 days after returning from the hospital, up to around 6 weeks (or even 3 months, same as before). I have had amazing newborn sessions with newborns 30 days new and challenging ones with 7 day new bubs, and vice versa. Every baby is completely different. So with my extensive experience specializing in newborn photography, I am more than happy to schedule session with newborns outside the 14 days new window, as it will provide an extra layer of safety to wait until 14 days after being discharged from the hospital.
As my clients are all soon to be parents, or parents due to have another child; for the large part, I am comforted that most are doing everything within their control to reduce their exposure and social-distancing to protect their family. So please understand that these policies are to further protect your tribe, as well as my own and our wider community. This policy will be enforced, reviewed and adjusted on an ongoing basis, until the situational risk has gone. Please stay safe and take care with self preservational measures to protect yourself and loved ones. Wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds, frequently. Maintain social-distancing of over 1.5 meters when out and about. Try to avoid going out where posible. Disinfect any bags or groceries that have been exosed to the elements, before bringing them into your home. Together by making good honest decisions keeping in mind the greater good of our communities; I believe this public health pandemic can be squashed. It will take time and the world will look different, it already is. Hopefully we will can reflect on how vulnerable our humanity is, as we stand together to overcome this not just in the now but the challenges facing our future generations. I've personally taken this time to take stock of what is most important to me and try to live in the now. Squeezing my Anya more often. Not taking any moments for granted. Even when she is bouncing off the walls, because it's raining out and we are not doing as many nature walks as we were, to keep us all sane!
... now, some little hearts with tiny humans to lift our spirits and spread the love x
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is only to provide further information on my approach to reducing exposure, personally and professionally. It is not in anyway a guarantee or declaration that speaks to my personal health status. Only an open dialogue in good faith, to provide more background information for prospective parents considering Lullaby Images photography services.