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for visual journalists

Any Personal Protective Equipment  can do more harm than good if used improperly 

April 16, 2020 Dr. Jenell Stewart (DO, MPH, Infectious Diseases physician-scientist at University of Washington) held an online training and Q&A session with journalists working in the field. She created the guide to help journalists who are struggling with ethical and safety considerations in the current void of job specific information. These tips are based on the most recent data and expert opinions available on SARS-CoV-2 (updated on April 28, 2020).

Download and print the checklist with essential safety strategies from the experts
for contamination self-check
before/ during/ and after the shoot

* The Russian version of the checklist will be available for download automatically. To download English version, check your inbox


Tomas O’Brien, a Photo Engineer at National Geographic, provided us with these additional recommendations for equipment cleaning:

  • Do not soak/submerge cameras or lenses in any solution. Lightly mist it on, let it sit, and then wipe it around and into crevices. Get everything. Cotton swabs can be useful for cleaning small areas around control dials. 

    • Rotate dials to all positions when cleaning. This includes the typical front and back thumb/index finger dials.

  • If you have to use a hand sanitiser or sanitising wipe, make sure to get into small crevices, and then also wipe down with a damp (not soaking) wet towel. 

  • I suggest everyone use a sacrificial UV/clear filter on front of lens, so that you can clean your camera as often as needed without worrying about damage to lens coating. A front lens element repair is hundreds of dollars, while a half decent UV/clear filter is well under $50 USD.

  • If you are using a lens hood that has a 'fuzzy' or felt interior, you will have a hard time cleaning this. Avoid using felt lined lens hoods when photographing this subject when possible.

  • When using zoom lenses that have a moving/retracting section (the lens physically moves when zooming) be sure to fully extend the lens to disinfect as much as possible.

  • A weather sealed camera is not airtight, so assume the inside of the camera to be 'hot' (contaminated) if you are going into 'hot' areas (i.e. ICU, ride alongs with EMT).

  • Clean your viewfinder and wear eye protection to limit transmission via mucous membranes (your eyes).

  • There is no standard recommendation for sanitising microphones, which are very moisture sensitive. High concentration alcohol spray may be ok, but there are no guarantees. After 3-4 days left in your hot zone at home, the virus will be dead, and the microphone will be safe to touch again. 

  • >70% Ethanol or >70% IPA sprays are the best option, and higher concentrations reduce the time needed to kill viruses and dry faster. An important note: If using ethanol that is denatured, which is what most people can find for purchase, it should only be denatured with compounds like IPA or methanol as these are compounds that are common in lens/sensor cleaning solutions and thus safe for the cameras. Often you will find ethanol that is denatured with things like kerosene and other nasty petrochemicals. We do not want these on our cameras or around us.

  • Straps:

    • Use multiple straps and put the dirty/'hot' straps into sealed plastic bags until you can clean them or they wait 3-4 days for the virus to die off.

    • Put metal rings on your camera strap loops and just use disposable straps that you make every day. Suggested materials: paracord and old climbing rope, if you have them.

    • Or if you have daily access to a washing machine/sink + drying rack, wash your strap(s) in cold water only and hang dry.

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