The Photography Face Mask

The Photography Face Mask

Love ’em or hate ’em, face masks are a feature of the brave new world…even for those of us who are cowardly, old, and reclusive.

I thought I’d done with them when I hung up the high speed drill in 2007 but it looks as though they’re back. I don’t complain about them as much as the other members of the family since I had so many decades of wearing them all the time…but I’m starting to wonder about their effect upon photography.

In our current state…in our home state…we are going to be wearing them inside and outside for some time. There’s a lot of confusion about exactly where and when, but the legally safe position is to just loop the thing on and adjust it and you’ll be seen to be doing the right thing. Not so sure about the business of banking or robbing trains though…in the one they might want to see your face for the security cameras and in the other a red bandanna is the accepted traditional garb. It doesn’t do to flout traditions.

Curious about fighter plane pilots as well…do they get their own personal oxygen mask or do they have to share with others?

Back to photography. Will you be taking bridal portraits with a mask on? How about the bridal party? Studio shots? Pet portraits? ( Freaking out the rottweiler seems a bad idea…) How about architecture, real estate, and food shoots?

I can see some photographers navigating a minefield of do’s and don’t’s with this…but at least the editorial and reportage shooter will benefit somewhat:

a. A political rally of masked faces will hide the snarls, smiles, and yawns. Everyone will look serious.

b. The date of a photo can be established by the fact of masking – because I’ll best as soon as the regulation drops, so will the masks.

c. You can stop asking people to smile. If you want smiles, just draw them on the masks with a Texta.

Okay. I went to a scale model exhibition on Sunday and wore a mask for the two days. It was the sort that you can contour around your nose with a wire – stops eye glasses from fogging up. No fancy pattern – just a green paper mask. Not a difficult thing to do, though sneezing on the second day while wearing it was exciting. Good thing I took spares. My ears hurt from the elastic, but that’s going away.

One thing for darkroom workers. if anyone is still using colour processes in a home darkroom after all these years they might welcome the mask. Some of the chemistry for the C-41 and RA4 developing is fierce – good ventilation a necessity. Even some black and white solutions can fume up and stink you out.

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