Photographing “The Femme Fatale”

by | Dec 10, 2018

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

“The mystique of the Femme Fatale cannot be perfectly translated into male terms.”—Camille Paglia

Black and white is a wonderful media for making portraits because the lack of color simplifies the image, causing you to focus on the true subject of the photograph instead of their clothing or surroundings.

As mentioned in my book Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography, I didn’t start out as a people photographer. Sometimes I’d make a business portrait or headshot but people were really Mary’s game. When she took an extended sabbatical from the studio, things changed and I started making and enjoying shooting portraits.

How I made this shot: This portrait of Megan, who reminds me of  Gillian Anderson, is from one of the first sessions I did with this aspiring model who was sent by a local modeling agency. It was shot in the living room of my former home, using only window light. The portrait was made with a Canon EOS 50D with the underrated EF 22-55mm f/4-5.6 USM lens with an available light exposure of 1/50 sec at f.5.6 and ISO 400.



Back in the not-so-old days the only way to make a black and white photograph was by shooting black and white film. Now digital shooters can have it both ways:

Most digital cameras give you a choice of shooting color or black and white—even at the same time—or you can capture a color image and convert it later to monochrome using some of the techniques available in Adobe Photoshop. But sometimes you need more power and that’s when it’s time to put down the manual tools and pick up a power tool like Silver Efex Pro, which is what I used here.

I like to think that the final black and white version of Megab’s portrait has a 1940’s femme fatale look. While the original unretouched color image (above) was OK, I think the monochrome version is more dynamic and graphic. But hey, if you like the color version, that’s OK too.

I’m taking registration for a series on 1-on-1 Photography Workshops to be held in my home studio in 2019. To schedule a time, click the Contact button above or e-mail me directly at joefarace at gmail dot com.


You can learn all of my tips, tools and techniques on shooting available light glamour photography in my book surprisingly titled  “Available Light Glamour Photography”. New copies of the book are available from Amazon for $17.43 with used copies costing only $10.50, as write this.