Sheer curtains are one of the handiest tools you can stuff into your camera bag. They are especially perfect for images of young girls and women where flowing fabric can add a feminine touch.

One of my biggest tips is to use sheer curtains to complement other clothing. I find that subjects often want to play with clothing or their hair, and giving them a large expanse of fabric to play with helps to relax them. You can make a dress with the curtains too, but just covering a basic dress is one of the easiest and fastest ways to integrate curtains into your workflow.

This image dates back to 2012 and it was the first time I discovered the versatility of sheer curtains. These curtains cost only $4.99 at IKEA!

I love to use curtains to add texture to an image and create a place for light to fall between pleats and folds. This image was made in my bathroom and I simply covered her dress with the sheer curtain and fastened it behind her shoulder with a chip clip. The folds of the material make the light more interesting to look at and provide more areas for the viewer to explore.

curtain clipped to girl by Caroline Jensen
photo of girl in black and white by Caroline Jensen

Here are two other examples of enhancing a simple dress with a curtain.

This sundress was $2 at a thrift store and had a broken strap. I added my $2.50 curtain to add character to an otherwise uninteresting outfit.

Curtains are a great tool for simplifying a scene. The fabric is timeless and you can fashion it in a myriad of different ways. Your creativity is only limited by the patience of your subject and the amount of clips and pins you have.

girl covered in natural window light by Caroline Jensen
Lensbaby photo of girl by Caroline Jensen

This image was created with many curtains. I photographed my sons throwing curtains around the perimeter of the image and then composited those on top of the main image. Her dress was made from two curtains and she also wore one on her head. She was pretending to be a bride and I couldn’t resist!

black and white photo of girl with curtains by Caroline Jensen

Here is another example of using the curtains as a full dress. This image from 2012 was created with two curtains layered together for opacity and then clipped and tucked behind her to make a fluid dress. Again, the light catches the folds and adds a dreaminess to the image. The Lensbaby Sweet 35 helps too.

picture of girl folded over by Caroline Jensen

The curtain can also function as a prop. It can give your subject something to interact with and help the subject have more fun during the shoot. I haven’t met a little girl that doesn’t want to twirl around with a sheer curtain like a princess!

girl holding curtains by Caroline Jensen
girl holding lace curtain over her face by Caroline Jensen

Sheer curtains are also great for adding ambiance to a scene. I love to shoot through the curtains instead of putting them up on the windows (although they are super handy for diffusing harsh window light too). Here, my son held the sheers in front of me and I shot through the folds toward the window. The folds soften and frame the window in a creative way.

girl sitting in front of window by Caroline Jensen