When the untimely tunnel accident claimed Lady D’s life, I was too young to understand the sorrow of the world. But I do remember one headline that seared itself on my mind.
“Grace is Lost!”
It wasn’t until I took to wielding the camera and discovering the hidden beauty of the female form that those few words became crystal clear to me. Princess Diana was the embodiment of grace and elegance. She was the icon of spontaneous finesse, one that doesn’t need to be taught but comes from having a personality that is gracious, warm, loving and open. I have gone in search of this elusive quality and the results have been mixed. Sometimes my portraits and intimate shoots have reflected this quality that is eloquent even in silence. And often all the props and filters in the world have fallen short of true grace.
I think grace is rather like the famous ‘muse’ that writers talk of so often. It must choose you. It must allow itself to be captured from the aura and being of the subject for perusal by posterity. Grace in intimate shoots takes proceedings to the next level and like all invaluable assets is chimeric.
But First Let Me Vent Some Acid!
Whenever I hit the keyboard with a longer piece, it is because I have something important to say. Something that I believe is stereotypical and derogatory. And this time around it is an article. I won’t name any names because the intent of the author wasn’t sinister. The piece was not created to spark controversy. It was a humdrum listicle in a ‘How To’ format. And the topic happened to be ‘Grace’.
It was geared to dispense advice around how women can be graceful. I had a feeling of intense irritation right away. Okay, so women aren’t born graceful? They need to acquire grace. Is that it? Well then how do you explain the dramatic transformations I witness in my studio every single day? When the hesitation and gaucheness fall off leaving a nymph ready to sizzle and steam?
It got worse however. The suggestions started with the openly presumptuous statement, “If you are not ready to pose and pout in front of the mirror and pick out your flaws, you may have a hard time being graceful” (paraphrased obviously!)
So ladies with ‘flaws’ are not graceful. Well then I guess nobody is graceful and the attribute really died with Princess D.
The true essence of grace is not perfection in terms of style, deportment and posture. It comes from the beauty of the soul. It comes from being comfortable in your skin and your surroundings. As a photographer I have a very keen sense of observation. And often times I see more grace in the bent back of a homeless woman than I see in the artificial, mechanical movements of runway stunners. Maybe this is my perspective, but I somehow believe that my readers agree with me.
The tips I am sharing now aren’t going to ‘make’ you graceful. They are just add-ons to create the perfect setting to capture and enhance your innate grace. And trust me, you have it woman!
Black and White Shots: Nothing personal against color. But black and white, shadows and blurred filters somehow mute everything else around the subject and bring out the true grace that shines within.
Understated Accessories: Props make or break an intimate shoot. When grace has to take center stage, make sure that your accessories are classic items of style. A sheer silk stocking in black, a pair of Louboutins with the signature red soles or even gloves and a choker…they all somehow harken back to softer and easier times when grace was the crowning glory of women.
Art Inspired Silhouettes: I love extreme boudoir. It is empowering as hell. But when the question is capturing ‘grace’, I go with Art Inspired smooth flowing silhouettes. Less is more here because we are in search of something that is hard to pin-point. It is either there in a shot or it isn’t. Demurely crossed legs, the famous ‘shifting sheet’ or the shy body wrap all lend themselves fantastically well to the end result we are looking to achieve.
The next time you come across a woman who emanates so much grace that it affects everyone around, understand that you too have it within your soul. You need a nudge to let it flow or maybe the dispassionate eye of the camera to get acquainted with your own elegance.