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6 Ways to Empower Women through Photography

Tips to elevate female subjects during photo shoots
Photo of a powerful woman

As a woman, standing in front of a camera can be a daunting task, especially if it involves shedding some layers. But the result can be a powerful image and the confidence boost of a lifetime.

To celebrate femininity, here are six tips for photographers to elevate their female clients through photography.

Photo of a powerful woman

#1 Build a Sense of Trust and Comfort

Trust is essential and needs to be built before a client enters the studio. To allow clients to get a sense of my authentic personality, I often share my life stories on social media, which helps to break down barriers before you even start shooting

I find that talking to my clients and allowing them to collaborate on aspects of the shoot creates a sense of comfort. Before the shoot, I send my clients an outfit guide to help them prepare. On the day of the shoot, they arrive an hour or two before to get all done up with hair, makeup, and outfit selection. I work with them closely to help them decide the final outfit and what type of glam look they’re going to have which will make them feel powerful yet comfortable. By having this collaboration, I’ve built a good rapport, and have the ability to capture stress-free, relaxed images.

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I make my sessions more about offering a comfortable and fun experience, and the photos are just a reminder of the journey, almost like a souvenir. I like to give my clients an amazing experience so that when they pick up the photographs I’ve captured, they remember the moments along the way.

Photo of a powerful woman

#2 Make Your Gear Work for You

My gear bag consists of a Nikon Z 6II and Nikon Z 9. Using my Z 9 allows me to be more creative and have a different kind of relationship with my client because of the camera’s speed and electronic shutter. With the Z 9 I can silently capture photos, which means I can quickly snap pictures and my client won’t be distracted by the shutter sound and waiting for the moment I take her picture.

Paired with my Z 9, I use various Nikkor Z prime lenses – I’m definitely a prime girl as it forces me to move around and not be lazy. Some of my favorite lenses to capture tiny details are the Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S, Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S, Nikkor Z 85mm f/1.8 S, and Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S. Having a fast camera and primes lenses allow you to capture movement and energy. I recommend finding gear that feels like an extension of yourself and is fast enough to keep up with sudden movements.

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#3 Tell a Story

Different lighting styles can change the mood and story completely. I’m a strong advocate for leveraging natural light, as you can manipulate how the client is seen depending on the angle. Occasionally I’ll shoot flat light, where I’m between the window and the subject or I’ll shoot from the side of the subject which makes the photograph much moodier.

Angles and lighting allow you to highlight different body parts and create softer silhouettes. When you’re first starting, explore different light sources and angles until you find the pairings that you and your client enjoy.

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#4 Use Methods of Posing

I created a method of posing called the “8 Points of Posing.” These points take into account female body proportion vs. body type. When we hear photographers say “curvy girl posing” or something along those lines, I’ve found it to not be applicable. This is because I’ve taken thousands of pictures and while two women may be the same size jeans, no two bodies have ever been alike.

Women who are not professional models can often overthink during photoshoots, so a big part of my job as their photographer is to make sure they don’t get lost in their thoughts. I really don’t let them do anything without instruction. I give them a lot of directions so that they’re always busy and not confused about what they should be doing and what I want from them. Having them think about directions takes time and energy away from overthinking and intrusive thoughts that come to mind that your subject might have, like “Am I doing the right thing?” or “I hope I look ok”or “Am I doing ok?”

When posing your clients, you really need to account for three things: each woman’s individual proportions, how they want to be portrayed and how their body actually moves to adapt these poses. Some women are more flexible, taller, shorter, or have longer legs so photographers need to take that into consideration when directing their model to pose.

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#5 Focus on Your Subject

I always make the woman the focus of my images. I do this by shooting in front of a blank wall to draw attention to her without any distractions.

When selecting a focal point, I either pick the subject’s eye to capture her gaze or if I choose to not have her eye in the frame, I’ll focus on a specific detail. I’ll let everything fall out of focus, except the lace that she’s wearing. This adds an element and texture to the story I’m trying to tell.

Photo of a powerful woman

#6 Take the Bad with the Good

My best tip for the photographers looking to improve their technique is to look back at the images they don’t like. Ask yourself “Why don’t I like my style of photography here?”  Try to understand why your images you didn’t like don’t work in comparison to the ones that you love. Think of ways or factors that you can change to improve the image. When you start to observe the differences, you start noticing patterns of behavior and start thinking about the areas you should focus on more often.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. You can take a lot of photography classes, but that will never compare to actual experience. Go out there shooting what you love and continue to gain that much-needed experience.

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About Jen Rozenbaum

Professional boudoir and portrait photographer, advocate, author, and Nikon Ambassador Jen Rozenbaum embraces her femininity while allowing women to embrace their own. By daring her clients to shed their clothes, they begin to shed their inhibitions. Since 2008, Jen has found a burgeoning audience in the intimate photography market and is now sharing her Shamelessly Feminine movement with women worldwide.

Jen has been featured such places as Good Morning America, Entrepreneur magazine and MSNBC. In 2015 she was able to cross an item off her bucket list when she was asked to present a TEDx Talk about her Shamelessly Feminine message.

In addition to empowering women with her photography, Jen is also a breast cancer survivor, which has only made her mission to make women see their own power run even deeper. She uses her camera not only to tell stories of amazing women, but to heal them and herself.

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As a self-taught photographer, educator, and entrepreneur, she proves that you can own your world if you live fearlessly, think audaciously and act spontaneously.

To learn more about Jen’s work, visit her website at www.jenrozenbaum.com, and follow her on Instagram at @jenrozenbaum.

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