Outdoor headshot of young woman with brown hair.

Headshot Sessions in the COVID-Era

By Matthew on November 10, 2020

Blog Snippet

I don’t think there are many aspects of our lives that COVID hasn’t impacted by now. When the pandemic was on the horizon I ceased all headshot operations and advertising. As a person with Type I diabetes, the unknown was too great of a risk.

We’ve now seen more of how the virus spreads and what scenarios are more conducive to safety. Therefore, I feel comfortable opening things back up in a new way. I don’t like the terms “COVID-safe,” or “COVID-secure,” because they imply a certainty that I don’t think can be guaranteed. However, here are my COVID-19 precautions.

Cancelation Policy Change

This one is sort of obvious, so let’s get it out of the way first. Please cancel or reschedule your session with no questions asked and worry-free if:

  • you suspect that you may have come into contact with a COVID-positive individual in the days leading up to your session,
  • you feel even slightly unwell, or
  • you have increased reservations about COID safety due to situational or Austin Public Health stage changes.

Again, if you feel unwell, think you may have come into contact with a COVID-positive individual, or have been instructed to self-isolate please contact me to cancel or reschedule your session.

Location. Location. Location.

For me, the first line of precautionary measures is the location. I love shooting in studio environments for many reasons. However, unless we’re all breathing through HEPA filters, it just isn’t safe enough for me. Also, I don’t think full-face HEPA filters look great in headshots.

All sessions are now only shot outside. Temperatures have dropped and I can create most of the looks I shot in the studio in open areas. While areas such as The Domain and Congress Ave look great, but there are too many people for the sessions to be safe. That’s where parks come in.

Masked Up


I will be wearing a KN95 mask throughout our entire session. This does hamper my ability to communicate and smile with you, but I know that we’ll still have a great shoot.


I do require that you wear a mask when we’re not actively photographing, unless you find that wearing a mask messes up your makeup—and that brings me to my next point.

Makeup Artists

In the past I have loved partnering with makeup artists if clients request it. However, that isn’t a liability or variable I’m comfortable with these days. I don’t want to take the risk of putting a MUA in your face if they may not have been honest with me about their precautions. Luckily, headshots don’t require a vast amount of makeup.

Longer Lenses

I’ve always shot headshots with a long lens, meaning I have to stand back fairly far to get you the right size in the frame. However, I’ve started to use an even longer lens (70-200mm if you’re wondering) so that I can give you even more distance. Any more distance and I’ll likely need a megaphone for you to hear me, which isn’t a great experience.

So what is the downside?

There are a few things I don’t like, and are why I didn’t conduct my sessions like this in the before-times.

  • The reason I prefer sessions inside a studio is that you get total privacy.
  • The reason I don’t like the mask is that you don’t get the nonverbal social cues that tell you I’m really happy about how the images and your posing is looking.
  • The reason I don’t like the distance is that I can’t hop into your position and show you how to pose, and I can’t show you the photos in real time on the back of the camera.

That being said, we can still take some rockin’ headshots outdoors, masked up, and socially distanced. 👍


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