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Photographing the Delicate

Updated on February 13, 2014
CC BY-ND 3.0
CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source
This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use
This file is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved, free for any use | Source

Delicate photography is the style of photographing subjects which are considered to be delicate, fragile and easily damaged. There are many subjects that fit this category; from delicate flower petals, delicate glass figurines to how delicate a newborn is.

Since delicate means something different to many, you have to evaluate your interpretation of what delicate means to you. It is worthwhile to make up a list and ask others for their opinions; whether they would consider these items to be delicate or not. You can also take some sample shots and do the same. The best images are those that feel delicate to a majority of people.

Your goal is to capture images of delicate subjects and portray them in a complementing scene. For this you should make use of pastels and whites and use diffused softened light. If you use a backdrop that is too rich in color like deep reds, then the scene loses its delicate appeal and fell. If you use a light source that is too strong you not only risk creating harsh lighting conditions but the light will overpower the delicateness of the subject as well.

However, if the subject is very pale in color, then you may set it against a dark backdrop and use back-light illumination.

Like we were saying, delicate means different things to different people, so it is good to get a general knowledge of what is generally accepted as such;


"1.fine in texture, quality, construction, etc.: a delicate lace collar.2.fragile; easily damaged; frail: delicate porcelain; a delicate fine as to be scarcely perceptible; subtle: a delicate flavor.4.soft or faint, as color: a delicate shade of pink.5.fine or precise in action or execution; capable of responding to the slightest influence: a delicate instrument."

First research the list of subjects that are considered by most to be delicate in their nature and proceed to secure their use.Then prepare a suitable location, preferably in a studio, and arrange them in a manner which enhances their delicate nature. Use soft lighting and try to get close ups that clearly show their texture, surface and make up.

A good alternative is to use a digital editing program to add softening effects and reduce or enhance selected colors. Do not concentrate only on natural subjects as there are many things that fall within the category.

The key is to look at the subject closely and then decide whether or not this object is easily handled therefore categorized as delicate. Models are great to photograph but people are not really thought off as being too delicate . If you are going to use the help of models, then be careful to portray them in a delicate situation. Close ups of the eye alongside a delicate flower for example can work but the light and the backdrops as well as the "softness"; how the scene feels maters a lot.

Other good subjects are loose feathers like the down feathers (the down of birds is a layer of fine feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers) used in stuffing pillows, The delicate dew drops on a window , the fragile nature of a tender mother/ child embrace and so forth. Your limitations are those that you put on yourself yet attention to details, careful attention to the set up, the light used and the chosen colors all play an important role in making your shoot appear as that of delicateness or not.

Try not to have all of your photographs be of static subjects. For example using a studio, a dark backdrop and photographing some feathers as they fall accomplishes the feeling of delicate just as well as simply laying the feathers of a flat surface.

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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Maralexa: Thank you very much

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      Your description of what is fragile and delicate and how to capture this characteristic, evokes a beauty of its own. You have captured my imagination in this hub. Thanks Luis. Up, beautiful and useful.