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AIPP: ‘Huge win’ for Victorian photographers

The Victorian AIPP Council has successfully lobbied the State Government to apply a face mask exemption for portrait photography subjects, marking a big win for Victorian photographers and the Institute.

Photo: Belinda Richards.

‘The mandatory mask ruling for the entire state put the practicality of how we returned to work in serious question. Legally, photographers being able to work, but with clients unable to remove a mask while having their photograph taken under the lack of an exemption for professional photoshoots,’ wrote Victorian AIPP Council president, Emily Black, in an e-mail newsletter.

‘The Victorian arm of the AIPP has worked tirelessly during this time, seeking clarity for all image-makers. Every lead, contact, connection, and piece of information has been followed up. This lobbying has been greater than a petition, it has been every behind the scenes phone call, and email with government across countless ministries, and departments.’

Black, a Melbourne photographer, launched an online petition calling for Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, to allow portrait photography subjects to remove their face mask during a shoot. It pulled over 8000 signatures.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services since added a clause to its Stay Safe Directions, a document signed by chief health officer, Brett Sutton, stipulating how individuals and businesses may operate in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.

There are over 23 face mask exemptions for regional Victorians, and it’s likely Melbourne will follow a similar set of eased restrictions when the average number of Covid-19 cases adequately drop.

Number 19 on the list reads: ‘The person is receiving a service from a facility which is permitted to operate under, and is operating in accordance with, the Restricted Activity Directions (Non-Melbourne) (No 7), to the extent that it is not reasonably practical to receive that service wearing a face covering.’

Black explained to Inside Imaging how the lockdown restrictions have been full of grey areas and difficult for professional photographers to follow. While the above clause is also confusing – it’s unclear when wearing a mask becomes ‘not reasonably practical’ – the DHHS provides professional photography as an example.

‘Example: when having your photo taken by a professional photographer’.

The document was updated on October 11, and it’s unlikely the DHHS just pulled the professional photography example out of thin air. It’s fair to say that Black, backed by the AIPP, managed to push this one through for all Victorian photographers.

‘This incredible amount of drive to gain clear, consistent guidance has been backed by the AIPP board and every single photographer, moving or stills, who has signed the petition, emailed their local member, called Business Victoria asking for clarity. Every photographer and video producer, across every genre who has been vocal, and shared the plea… this is for you.’

We have been seen, we have been heard, we have made a difference.’

Black concluded:
‘This is a huge win for all of us, I could not be more thrilled to have lead the fight on behalf of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, to have gained the clarity our profession needs in moving forward. This is for every photographer and video producer across Victoria and highlights just how committed we are as a professional body in advocating and lobbying for each and every image-maker.’

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