Of Masks, Halloween and Coronavirus Pandemic

Discarded Covid-19 Mask. B&W photography by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Who’s ready for Halloween this Covid-19 year? Not me, but then again, I’ve never been a fan of this particular holiday, not really. I’ve photographed and been part of Halloween-themed shows in NYC. Also, I used to photograph vampires and even had some images featured in a local show, in 2014; years ago I even wrote a short book on photographing vampires (I might revisit it at some point….).

I also used to walk with my friends, who’d always dress up (as dark angels and other creatures) in NYC’s Village Halloween Parade. But not this year. There’s no Halloween Parade this year. No surprise there and good decision, since Coronavirus is still upon us.

“Mask Thyself” – a #tbt from right before the beginning of the pandemic. ©Alina Oswald.

But how about masks? We used to associate masks with festivals (think Mardi Gras) Halloween parades and the like. Maybe we still do. And yet this year, Covid-19 has given a new meaning to masks and mask wearing.

Halloween masks:

  • we wear them over our eyes, to conceal our identity; hence, to enhance a sense of mystery, drama, even perceived danger often associated with these events
  • we often choose fabulous designs to express our personality or the personalities of (fictional or real) individuals we attempt to ‘become’ while wearing those masks
Maskarade. A self-portrait in b&w.
Masquerade. [Maskarade] A Halloween self-portrait in b&w. ©Alina Oswald. #tbt

For those interested in photographing Halloween (and Vampires) or curious about what to photograph for Halloween, here are a few links:

Photographing Halloween 2017

Photographing Halloween 2018

Photographing Halloween 2019

Covid-19 masks:

  • we wear them over our nose and mouth, to prevent breathing in the virus, to prevent real danger (rather than enhance an fictional one); and in this case, in the Covid-19 case, the virus represents real, life-threatening danger
  • we often choose Covid-19 masks to fit our personalities, express ourselves, to send a message, support a cause, make a point, and so on; after all, why not?
Award-winning photograph. ©Alina Oswald.

This year I’ve noticed Halloween designs printed on Covid-19 masks. That’s a neat idea, I think. And we can photograph both Halloween and Covid-19 masks, and visually capture their stories and the stories of individuals wearing those masks.

Wear a mask. VOTE blue. ©Alina Oswald

Here are a few more “express yourself!” masks I’ve used this year:

More details by checking out Making Meaning in a Pandemic. ©Alina Oswald.

Wearing my Silence = Death mask and t-shirt. ©Alina Oswald.

And here’s the end of the road for one of my masks. It happened the other day, on my way back from picking up the mail. (luckily, I always carry two masks with me, just in case). Here’s a picture of my old mask, now a prop for my mini photo shoots:

Wish you all a safe and Happy Halloween! And as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald


  1. I am so sad to read your post tonight/today and can feel a sense of frustration and hopelessness in your words, Alina.
    I implore you and others on the other side of the world to not lose hope that one day a better world will be out there and maybe one day the word ‘mask’ will portray a brighter picture.

    We here in Melbourne, Australia, will wake up tomorrow to a strange new world – an end of our state’s 110 days of lockdown, nightly curfew & 5+ km travel ban. No new cases and no deaths for 3 days now. We still have to wear a mask upon leaving home and there are still some restrictions for travel (no interaction between the city/suburbs and regional areas) and restricted indoor and outdoor gathering numbers, interstate borders are still closed to our state, but the shops and small businesses (that haven’t gone ‘bust’) can re-open in the city & suburbs.

    So keep the mask on, social distance wherever you can, wash your hands ‘a million times a day’ and don’t lose hope.

    My thoughts are with you and I pray one day you will face the new day with some optimism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Vicki! I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate and needed your note. You are a mind reader. Yes, it’s been frustrating, hopeless and exhausting, and it seems that there’s no end in sight.

      While here, in the NYC Metro area, most people have been pretty disciplined regarding wearing masks (the right way!) and all that, some have never bothered to play by the rules. Also, complacency and Covid fatigue has settled in, and therefore we still have to drag ourselves through all this never-ending nightmare. Experts talk about a long, dark and dangerous winter (because of the virus). It’s been depressing on so many levels, Covid and not Covid related 😦

      But, it’s good to hear that things are looking up on your side of the world. Those were some tough restrictions you guys had to go through, but I bet mostly everybody followed through. Here, that would not be possible, not in some parts of the country. Hence, the state we’re in… [sigh]

      Thanks for sharing the more hopeful news! We all need that, something to hope for, to hold on to, until better days will come here, too. And thank you always for your kind words. It means a lot to me!

      Hope you stay safe, too. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I watch the international news on TV most days so am fairly well up with the various issues you’re facing and it’s not pretty to read of the violence and complacency (especially DT) in your country. I’m generalising of course. I know there’s a wide variety of attitudes from each town/city/state. I note tonight DT was continuing to say the end is in sight (re COVID). Very sad indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, Vicki! I do agree. It is infuriating for those of us trying out best to stay safe and follow the rules. It’s been madness for the past few (four) years, and it’s getting worse, especially with the pandemic. And it seems that there’s no end in sight…. [sigh]

        Thanks again for your kind words and thoughts. They really do brighten my day. Appreciate that!

        Liked by 1 person

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