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Photographing a Lady and Her Gown

Updated on February 9, 2014
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Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Gowns remain one of the most popular articles of clothing for young women and women alike especially during special events such as weddings, proms, graduations and others.

"Evening gowns can be distinguished from conventional or day dresses by a two primary features. The first is the cut, which tends to be couture and in line with the latest fashions, unless the article of clothing is a ball gown, in which case it will tend to be cut along more classic lines. The second distinguishing feature is the fabric. Evening gowns tend to use luxury materials such as silk, velvet, and taffeta, and they may be richly embroidered or decorated with beads, sequins, jewels, and other ornaments. Wealthy women also prefer to purchase tailored evening gowns, which are designed to flatter their figures. In all cases, evening gowns are designed to be worn with high quality jewelry." Wikipedia

Taking a photo of a young lady wearing a gown can be an easy task. However to make that image stand out there are some tips that will garnish all of the attention and aim it directly at the mainly subject.

Most photographs involving gowns are simple shots of the lady standing and the photographer focuses on her and snaps the shot. One way to make it a bit more especial is to pose you model in less than traditional poses and with less than traditional lighting. Adding other small pros to the scene makes the final image that much more interesting and appreciated more by its viewers.

For example, if you are going to photograph a young woman on her wedding day gown a good technique would be to have her pose next to a decorative mirror on which she is looking at herself. The light should be dim and aimed directly at her. A photographic snoot works quite well for this purpose.

You may be wondering why you should avoid using a flash unit, especially since most photographers will tell you that a flash is ideal for lighting the entire scene in even light.

True, a flash will illuminate the scene evenly and in its entirety but it will also shed equal amounts of light into the surroundings and props, thus even thought the scene is well lit nothing in it stands out. A photographic snoot sheds light to a precise area thus rendering any surrounding area and props in less light.

This gives the illusion that the model is "coming through" the photograph and the attention of the viewer is thus focused onto her and her gown. Simple yet effective technique in making an image "pop".

Props should include some of the jewelry that she will wear on that special day, mementos from her family; something new, something old, something borrowed etc. Arrange them in pleasing settings and close to the lady.

The shot should be done in close up but to include her, the props, the gown to at least her feet but not the ground. make sure to aim the light at an angle and use a tripod. Avoid flash if possible to reduce the risk of reflections showing up on the mirror.

Some other ideas like for gowns meant for a young lady's graduation would be to pose her near some flowering plants, preferably roses and such. the image should associate the beauty of the flower with that of the young lady and how both have "bloomed."

Using subdued light work best and especially light that is being filtered by an overcast day or during dusk or dawn. A good softening filter should be added to some shots to make the image appear more " romantic."


Be creative don't just take photographs that look like many others. Research recent themes and samples to get your creative juices flowing.

A useful solution if you do not want to do the project at night or lack some photo snoots or for whatever reason you don't feel comfortable using subdued lighting is to look for a secluded spot with a large window.

Have your model inside of the structure or where it is darker than the rest of the surrounding space and use any light that comes from the outside and through the window shine upon her.

You can also use artificial light to recreate sunlight coming through the window. And to simulate the rays of the Sun use several snoots and this works just as well in simulating the rays of light from the Moon.

This project is not really design for publications or other commercial interests but it is well suited for those that want to pursue a wedding or graduation photographic business.

Your clients will be your best sources of future business if they are happy with the shots and come to realize that you have a distinct style uniquely yours.

Being unique and standing out form the rest are often the keys to making a business into a great business, especially in photography.

Finally, you may also look at some styles of gowns that are reminiscent of those worm by women in medieval times.

These can often prove valuable in suggesting themes and ideas and can be the centerpoint in a modern event such as a wedding.

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • AndeeRose profile image

      Andee Rose Carpenter 5 years ago from Past the sunrise, left of the moon

      Wow! I never thought of such things! I am just beginning to take pictures, no business here, but I enjoy learning new things about the things I enjoy!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lynn; Thank you my dear

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

      Awesome as usual. I'm a sucker for romantic shots. Love how you break things down.

    • Suelynn profile image

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      I love the bride reclining on the chaise longue studded with flowers! It's beautiful! The bride looking in the mirror is a very vulnerable peek. Lovely ideas and thanks for sharing them about the photography, Luis. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I do see the effect you mentioned in the mirror photo. It does give a frame to the bride's look. Very attractive view of the gown. I have often wondered why they use a flash of light, now I know. The light chases away those shadow that cause a different look to the whole picture. Enjoyed this one for sure!