When photographing someone, veils and gauzy curtains can cover a multitude of sins such as messy hair, facial blemishes, bad lighting, lack of posing ability, and so on. And, depending how they're used, these accessories can help make images appear mysterious or even ghoulish.
I’ve never purchased actual veils for my subjects. Instead, I visit local craft supply stores for veil type material, in various colors and patterns, with weaves ranging from course to fine. The pieces I purchase are large so that there's enough material to cover the subject's head and upper torso. Also, I’ll iron or steam the cloth before the shoot to remove any wrinkles and creases.
Here’s Anabel wearing veils prepared from three very different materials. Each was carefully arranged after being placed over her head and shoulders. The veil was positioned so no opaque portion of it covered anything I wanted visible. I also made sure the material was not doubling up, but rather laying down as a single layer. I made a final check and, if necessary, adjustment just before taking each picture. With the materials being so different, with the variety in Anabel’s poses, and with the help of Photoshop, she almost appears to be three different people.
I had Elspeth sit on this window ledge, then covered her with the sheer curtain. I threw the lens a bit out-of-focus, thereby softening the picture. Tilting the camera meant Elspeth wouldn’t have to wait while I aligned the vertical and horizontal lines of the window panes, which I would have done had the camera been held in a normal horizontal manner. Barely visible, her expression shows a sweet smile.
Jaida appears to be struggling with an out-of-control veil, as if it's windy and she's trying to prevent it from blowing away. Actually, we were inside her house, and there was no air movement. Her convincing demeanor was the result of some good acting!
Linda is draped with a blanket instead of a veil. The covering serves the same purpose as a veil but evokes, perhaps, more humor than drama. The cigarette sticking out of her mouth adds some extra oddness to the picture.
Makenzie’s eyes are completely covered by her veil, and bare branches hang above her. Together, these details infuse the photo with a sense of mystery. After not viewing the photograph for several months, I found two details I’d never seen before. First, the picture appears to be divided equally into two sections - the model and far background trees in one and the horizontal tree branch and sky in the other. Second, the very bottom tree branch lines up almost perfectly with the top of the tree line in the far background.