Socially Distanced Headshots – can we do them?
Yes – absolutely! But first let’s review the present situation…
At the time of writing (Sept 2020) we are still not “out of the woods” yet as regards the coronavirus pandemic. Everybody is having to balance taking appropriate precautions to reduce the spread of the virus with trying to keep normal life going. And that includes normal business activities. The economy has been very hard hit by the lockdown, so finding ways to work that ensure business can continue, without sparking a resurgence in virus infections, is key.
Coronavirus and photographing people
As a professional photographer, a lot of my jobs involve working with people – not only photographing them but having meetings etc. I’ve been doing as much as I can via Zoom, but to take a proper photo of someone you have to meet them in person!
Larger gatherings such as weddings, conferences, and seminars have in most cases been postponed to 2021, so that side of my business is very much on “hold” for the time being. But it’s still possible to create socially distanced headshots with individuals and small groups, following coronavirus guidelines.
Here are some examples from past sessions (before coronavirus) where I was working with clients outdoors or in larger spaces…
Of course you may need photos with a plain background, especially for use as ID photos on social media – not a problem!
A socially distanced headshots session with Matt
Matt got in touch with me last week to organise a photo session to create some new headshots – specifically for his LinkedIn profile. Like many people at the moment, Matt is aiming to raise his profile online, and a new headshot was a key part of that strategy. So we discussed how to do the shoot in a safe and responsible manner.
Have photo gear – will travel!
My usual method is to work at the client’s premises rather than having them come to my studio – in fact I don’t even have a studio (of which more later)! So my photo and lighting equipment is designed to be easily transported and set up on location.
For Matt’s shoot, we decided to work outside, giving us plenty of room to work while staying at least 2 metres apart during the shoot. We used a shaded courtyard area as the location – giving some soft natural light (it was a sunny day) but avoiding hard shadows.
I set up my white “pop-up” background attached to a lightstand, and one of my battery-powered studio flashes on another stand, fitted with an octagonal softbox to diffuse the light (see diagram).
It’s quite a simple setup, but very effective. Indoors I sometimes use more lights, but outdoors just adding the flash as a “key” light was sufficient. There was enough soft ambient light bouncing around to fill in the shadows on the side of Matt’s face that was away from the flash.
Clothing changes for headshot sessions
Here are some examples from the shoot. As you can see, Matt wanted a few changes of clothing to give him options to use different images in different situations.
The whole session took less than an hour including my set-up time. So yes, we can do socially distanced headshots – no problem!
What happens if it’s raining?
Well yes, we can’t really do an outdoor shoot if it’s pouring with rain! If you have an indoor location with enough space (such as a meeting room or a large living room) then we can do a shoot indoors without too much problem.
People sometimes ask me why I don’t have my own studio, and there are a few main reasons for that. The first is cost – renting a suitable space and maintaining it (along with heating, lighting and insurance) is expensive – and that cost has to be passed on in the form of higher prices for my work. Secondly, by working on location there is minimum down-time for the client – they can just walk in, get their photos, and go straight back to work. Thirdly, location shoots often give me the option to use a variety of different backgrounds (indoor and outdoor).
Hotels and other venues for a photo shoot
If you really don’t have the space to do a shoot indoors, and the weather doesn’t lend itself to an outdoor session like Matt’s, then we have other options. Many hotels and event venues have suitable spaces that are empty during the week, and at the moment they aren’t doing big events anyway. So I can often use my connections with event venues and rent or borrow an indoor space to do a shoot in.
With an indoor shoot I can (if required) set up more lights so we can do a variety of lighting styles, or maybe use different coloured backgrounds. It just depends how many different images you need and what your budget is.
Socially Distanced Headshots – easy solutions for a new image
So if you need some new photos of yourself or your team for your website or for social media, please get in touch and we can discuss the possibilities. You can see more examples of my headshot images here.