Female Photography: How to Photograph the Feminine

Throughout artistic history, the female figure has been a source of inspiration, focus, and sometimes scandal. As a photographer today, you’re likely aware of the rise in popularity of female nude photography, boudoir photography, and glamour-style female photography. Due in part to society’s growing acceptance of the body as a thing of beauty, and the ability to discuss sexuality without the social stigmas once attached, women are coming out of the woodwork to have their body captured in a timeless, beautiful way.

Making a dive into female photography may seem daunting. Whether you’re a traditional or digital camera user, or prefer bromide or digital photography, setting up a profitable photography business that specializes in female and boudoir photography is really quite simple. Most photographers need just a few guidelines to be successful in this specialty, because they already know how to set up a beautiful image.

Getting Started in Female Photography

Some of the greatest joys I’ve experienced in life have come from photography. This medium allows you to reach out and grab a piece of today, and store that moment for ages. This passion for memories and the immortalization of a moment in time is what drives so many women to photographers that specialize in female and boudoir photography. They are able to capture the essence of their feminine beauty as it is in that moment of time, distill it into something eternal, and treasure it for years to come.

Before you decide to make the transition (or leap) into female photography, you need to understand exactly what this genre is. If you are offended by or uncomfortable with the semi-nude and/or nude female body, this is not the line of work for you. On the other hand, you can’t be a photographer who will become “excited” by the subject; the right personality is a photographer who can set their subject at ease, maintaining a safe and non-threatening environment.

Female and boudoir photography deals extensively with lingerie, fetish wear, and often times nothing but a woman’s natural assets. The level of sensitivity most women have about exposing their nature in this manner is extreme, and you must be able to help your subject relax and show their inner flair without any fears of discrimination or humiliation.

Within the genre of female photography are several smaller categories that you should become acquainted with:

1. Glamour Female Photography (or boudoir photography): Photography of women and girls (18+), designed to enhance and emphasize the natural beauty of the model. Glamour shots usually include a lot of lingerie and/or other materials to cover the body while allowing its natural form to show through.

2. Artistic Female Nude Photography: Photography of an undressed model. Ironically, the model doesn’t need to be truly nude; draped fabrics, for instance, might conceal or highlight aspects of the figure. Working with the model’s comfort level, the photographer may isolate parts of the torso, breasts, bottom, etc. rather than use the whole body. Oftentimes, artistic nudes use dramatic light and shade effects to highlight form and texture.

3. Glamour Female Nude Photography: These photos are different from boudoir photographs only in the amount of covering materials used. Often, these glamour photos will feature a female model wearing stockings and garter-belts, with little to nothing else. Generally, direct-eye contact is encouraged to draw the viewer in. The model is encouraged to pose in manners that make her feel sexy and flirtatious, and invariably the models in these photographs are smiling.

4. Artistic Erotic Female Photography: Very similar to the Artistic Nude, most often the only difference is the choice of materials used. Erotic Artistic Nudes often depict fetish and bondage subject matter.

5. Glamour Erotic Female Photography: No clothing is worn in these photos, and the model is overtly sexy and provocative in explicit style.

Some photographers break it down further into categories like “Fashion”, “Fitness”, etc. When you boil it all down, everything still falls into the five categories we’ve discussed and once you have the distinctions down, you probably won’t have to even think about them any more; they will become second-nature.

You’ve gotten this far in the article, and are still reading, so I’m going to guess that you’re with me for the long haul. Why don’t you take a second to check out a site that has an extensive gallery of female photography to really understand what we’re talking about? Art Body Photo, based in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a gorgeous site that will get your creative juices flowing: http://www.artbodyphoto.com/

Tips for Working with Female Models

Beyond the basic photographic equipment (a camera, and a private place to photograph), once you’re done with your research it’s time to get started. After all, photography is about experience; no amount of reading can really teach you how to do something more than actually doing it will.

The first obstacle you will have in starting out is finding a model. Unless you have some adventurous female friends (and don’t be afraid to ask – you just might!), you will want to look for models. Dozens of models guides are available online, or try checking with a local art institute, photo store, or photo club. You might also place classified ads, although this is sometimes less likely to work; initially, women will be worried that you’re just a pervert. To counteract this very natural fear, make sure that you keep a small portfolio handy to show prospective clients. Include a variety of model types, subject matter, and styles.

In starting out, you will likely be working for free in order to build your portfolio. I can’t stress enough the importance of this step. One thing that being an artist in this manner affords you is selectivity. When you meet with a prospective model, you need to assess three things:

1. Attitude: Do you feel comfortable with her? More importantly, does she feel comfortable with herself? She should give the impression of liking herself, her body, and what she does.

2. Experience: Does she know what she’s doing? It is most important that you can establish that she will be reliable – that she can commit to arriving at a specific time on a specific day, or you will be wasting your time.

3. Attributes: What physical attributes draw you? She might have classic proportions, a beautiful skin tone, tattoos or other markings that you immediately know you can focus on to create something of artistic value.

From the moment your model commits to working with you, an atmosphere of cooperation, or co-creation, needs to be generated. Think of the model as your co-creator, and help them see that you feel this way; you’re both working toward a common goal. Share your vision with the model so that she can be part of the excitement. Often, she will have ideas about your vision that leads to much more meaningful photography. Remember that the emotions and attitudes the model brings with her will show in the photographs; if they are not comfortable, your photos will reflect that. By being open and communicative, you will also establish a clear verbal dialog for posing.

Before the shoot is to take place, make sure and discuss things like hair styles and make up with the model. Do you want her to wear nail polish? Whatever your position on these physical things, be prepared to offer an honest, full answer; again, this goes back to being clear and communicative with the model to achieve the best possible experience for both of you.

On the day of the shoot, make sure to have lotion on hand in case the model’s skin looks dry. Be sure that all marks from tight-fitting clothing have been worn off before pulling out the camera. Finally, once a pose is established, take a second to check the model’s hair, hands, eyes and mouth. Female photography relies heavily on an attention to detail, and these details can really make or break a photo.

Finally, Some Do’s and Don’ts of Female Photography:

*DO provide plenty of breaks and a lot of warmth for the model. Fatigue and goose bumps will show up quickly.

*DO provide plenty of breaks and a lot of warmth for the model. Fatigue and goose bumps will show up quickly.

*DO compliment the model when you are happy with her work (without any sexual innuendo!).

*DON’T overwork, degrade, or humiliate the model.

*DON’T touch the model without warning. ALWAYS ask for permission first. This helps avoid any uncomfortable situations or serious misunderstandings, as well as establish your level of respect for the model which encourages a more relaxed atmosphere. By being relaxed, the model will cooperate with you much more effectively.

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