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Photographing Femininity

Updated on February 10, 2014
The copyright holder of this work allows anyone to use it for any purpose including unrestricted redistribution, commercial use, and modification.
The copyright holder of this work allows anyone to use it for any purpose including unrestricted redistribution, commercial use, and modification. | Source

"Femininity (also called womanliness or womanhood) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Femininity is socially constructed, but made up of both socially-defined and biologically-created factors.This makes it distinct from the definition of the biological female sex,as both men and women can exhibit feminine traits.

Traits traditionally cited as feminine include gentleness, empathy, and sensitivity, though traits associated with femininity vary depending on location and context, and are influenced by a variety of social and cultural factors. The counterpart to femininity is masculinity." WIkipedia

What is femininity and how can you take photographs that represents it? It will take some time to seek out suitable subjects and yes, most subjects will be women.

Your models need not be posed in alluring poses or shown wearing next to nothing.

That is not what femininity is all about. Instead focus on scenes that depicts the beauty that is a woman and things as well as actions that are inherently theirs by either nature or due to societal norms, if there is such a thing.

While the main defining characteristics of what constitutes femininity are not universally the same, some common ones are accepted such as gentleness, empathy, sensitivity, caring, sweetness, compassion, tolerance, and nurturance.

These are the traits that you should try to capture through your images since they are the most traditional ones that are associated with being feminine.

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

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One of the best sample photographs are those that include the use of make up since most women and girls regularly use it.

The photos do not have to show the entire model nor do they have to show an entire face.

Many pictures that only show a portion of the body and in this case, the face are usually better in attracting a viewer than a full figure or full body portion.

For example focus on the eye region that has some elaborate yet subtle makeup scheme or the lips portion featuring the same, especially if it involves a very glossy lip makeup product.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC BY 3.0
CC BY 3.0 | Source

Other suitable scenes can be a lady holding her child, breastfeeding, caressing her hair, or staring into the distance.

One of the best tools for this and many other photo shoots is the use of a softening filter.

These will round off rough edges and slightly through the photo out of course but it gives the overall scene a "softer feeling".

Pay attention to the colors used in your shots. Keep in mind that in many cultures the color pink is normally associated with being feminine as blue is the same for masculinity.

Worth researching is what is considered to be a representation of femininity like with many cultures where the ideal feminine appearance does include long hair, a narrow waist, and little or no body hair or much less any facial hair.

Digitally edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link CC BY 2.0
Digitally edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link CC BY 2.0 | Source

Pay attention to the light. Diffused light works better in any situation instead of strong direct light unless you choose the later for effect. Subtle colors such as pastels, whites, pink are good in helping the theme.

The project also benefits from certain fashion photography methods like the poses, the locations, the attention to detail placed on the clothing, the make up and the hair.

But unlike fashion, the emphasis should be on capturing the "look" of a feminine lady instead of placing too much emphasis on the fashion itself.

The better approach is to get shots that make the model appear as if being unaware of the photographer's presence but when working with an experienced model this may not be such a factor since they are adept at achieving most looks.

If you cannot afford the services of a professional model, then ask friends and relatives to help you.

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      grand old lady: thank you. For the price and flexibility of interchanging lenses I recommend the Canon Rebel ti and they range from $160.00 (used) to about $500 (new)

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      I notice in Tyra Banks show, America's Next Top Model that sometimes a man will photograph a woman, then Tyra will also photograph the woman. In the end you realize that femininity is viewed from a very different perspective in a man compared to a woman. Your article is very interesting because it reinforces the features of a woman that a man looks for and defines as femininity, compared to a man. As was said by an earlier commentator, you make people want to become photographers because of your articles. What camera would you recommend, that is reasonably priced, for the kind of photography you do? Do you live in the Philippines? If so, could you recommend a good place to buy cameras?

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      MG Singh: Thank you

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 

      7 years ago from UAE

      Excellent post. Voted up

    • breakfastpop profile image


      7 years ago

      You are quite welcome!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      breakfastpop: And that is the main reason why I write here!

      Thank you

    • breakfastpop profile image


      7 years ago

      I am not a photographer, but whenever I read your work I want to become one. Up interesting, useful and awesome...

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ericdierker: Thank you

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      7 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting and a get expose' on how we look at feminine beauty.


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