Dana McKinney: Using Photography to Empower Women

Hey Readers! Meet Dana McKinney. Dana is a sophomore here at Kent State. You can find her in Taylor Hall working hard in the studio towards her degree in photo illustration. 

This semester, Dana is using one of her final projects to do something really unique and beautiful, have you ever heard of the term "boudoir shoot"? To explain, a boudoir shoot is a series of images usually featuring a women adorned in lingerie and flaunting her sex appeal. Check it out on Pinterest! This is a common practice among brides-to-be. But Dana has taken the tradition and put a spin on it. 

Her Campus Kent State caught wind of Dana's gorgeous and empowering project, and we just had to sit down and hear about it!

HC: Can you tell us what you’re project is about?

Dana McKinney: My project is a boudoir photography project that features different girls of different heights and shapes and sizes in a studio setting.

Dana tested out the idea of a boudoir shoot with her friend and fellow photographer, EmiLee Hartman, who took the above photograph. 

HC: What inspired you to do a project like this?

DM: I was inspired to do this project because I constantly hear all of my friends talking about how much they hate their bodies and how they are “so fat” or “so out of shape." All of my friends are beautiful to me, no matter what, and I just really wanted to show them how beautiful they truly are and boost their self confidence as a whole.

The following photos are property of Dana Elizabeth Photography, and should not be used without first asking permission from the photographer.

EmiLee steps out from behind the camera and is a vision in black lace. 

HC: Was it difficult to find models willing to participate?

DM: Actually, no. Each person I asked said yes right away and said they thought it would be something cool to experience!

Joona Lee dazzles in a bodysuit and thigh-high boots.

HC: How does this project compare to other projects you have done? Do you always try to use your photography to make a statement?

DM: I have done portrait projects before but I have never done a boudoir shoot. I was very excited to experiment with different poses for my models! Most of the time I try to use my photography to make a statement. For example, I represented four different mental health illnesses through food in my last still life project to show how each one is different.

HC: What was the most enjoyable/uplifting part about this project?

DM: The most enjoyable part was making my models feel confident. It was so fun to help my friends see themselves as the badasses I know they are! They got to see these pictures and realize how stunning they truly are. It was a very rewarding experience. 

Sarah Bush shows her sensual side with silk ribbons and a gorgeous gaze. 

HC: What was a big challenge you faced while doing this?

DM: My biggest challenge was working in a studio because most boudoir photoshoots take place on location in the model’s bedroom for example so working in a confined space with darker lighting was a bit of a challenge.

HC: Did photographing women in such a vulnerable state teach you anything about womanhood and sexuality?

DM: Yes, it taught me that a lot of women want to express their sexuality and be confident in themselves and their bodies, but they don’t always know how. Like I said, I did not have trouble finding models for this project because people want to feel confident and express themselves, and it made me so happy to be able to do that for them.

HC: How will you use this project to propel you as a photographer?

Dana: This project has taught me a lot about my lighting techniques and how to pose my models to create unique and interesting shapes. I think getting the experience and exposure to this new type of photography will really help me grow and learn in the future.

HC: What projects do you see yourself doing in the future?

DM: In the future, I definitely want to experiment with environmental portraiture more and also create some more controversial projects using both people and still life objects.  


Her Campus can't wait to see! 

Need to see some more beautiful photos? Follow Dana's official photography account: @dana_elizabeth_photography 

Or want to get to know her even better? Follow her personal accounts!

Twitter: dana_mck

Instagram: dana_mckinney