As businesses in the United States begin to reopen, one of my clients has decided to radically up her marketing game and wanted me to create several executive portraits. She insisted on having a professional hair and makeup artist so she would look her best for the session.

COVID-19 caused all of us to be extra careful during the shoot. Here’s how we worked together to complete the list of photos safely.

Portraits with makeup and hair in the times of COVID-19
I used Clorox cleaner with bleach to disinfect all of the surfaces. Wipes kept things as clean as possible during preparation.

First steps before a photo session during COVID-19

My client Susan and I spoke on Zoom to get a list of photos she wanted to create for her marketing and re-branding. During the call, we discussed my booking a hair and makeup artist for her session.

I checked with one of my favorite makeup artists and hairstylists, Jypsy Nichols, about her practices during the virus pandemic. She told me she’s seen no one for two months, was working from home and staying in except for brief visits to the grocery store, that she was available for the date Susan wanted and agreed to meet us at my home studio.

I called Susan back and related what Jypsy had said. Susan, who is a medical detective, said she was comfortable with Jypsy being much closer than the suggested six feet of physical distancing while doing her makeup and hair.

Cleaning & disinfecting my studio against COVID-19 spread

The day before the session, I deep cleaned the area where Jypsy would be working with Susan. This involved washing all surfaces with Dawn detergent, wiping them down then spraying Clorox cleaner on all of the surfaces and letting it stand for 10 minutes. After another wipe down with paper towels, I finished with Clorox wipes. I even disinfected the director’s chair Susan would use while being made up.

I provided hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, gloves and masks. This time, the shoot had no snacks that weren’t individually wrapped. It was sad not having a tray of cheeses, cold cuts and fruit to graze on, but safety first.

Portraits with makeup and hair in the times of COVID-19
I provided masks, two kinds of hand sanitizers and another choice of disinfecting wipes.

Hair, makeup & COVID-19

Jypsy wore a mask while applying Susan’s makeup. Professional photographic makeup takes time — from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

After the makeup was finished, Jypsy styled Susan’s hair. This process required the two of them to be in close contact for the entire time. Jypsy washed her hands during the process and sanitized each of her brushes as soon as she finished using it.

First setup is outdoors

It was a beautiful day and getting the “Susan-in-a-natural-environment” shot went quickly. I’d set up a light for fill and made test shots with my ColorChecker. Jypsy tweaked Susan’s hair between sets of photos. Even a slight breeze causes flyaway hair.

Portraits with makeup and hair in the times of COVID-19

Of course the sun came out from behind the clouds so Jypsy filled in as my assistant by holding a 2/3 of a stop scrim over Susan’s head to reduce the brightness of the sun on her shoulders.

Studio photos

Susan had several ideas she wanted to achieve in the studio. Each one required different lighting and props. Again, everything we used had been wiped down in advance. Jypsy touched up makeup and hair throughout the day. I made the photos. Throughout the shoot, Jypsy and I did our best to keep as much physical distance from Susan and each other as we could.

Several hours later, we finished the shot list. I helped Susan take her clothes and accessories to her car while Jypsy packed up her supplies and hair tools. It had been a great day, full of laughs and fun. We all wanted to hug but … we all agreed to stay physically distanced. The two of them drove off in their cars and returned my waves and smiles.