Female warrior portrait with sword and cape, photographed by Mark Laurie of Inner Spirit Photography Calgary.

A naked blade appearing in a woman’s nude or boudoir portrait may seem the stuff of fantasy books. While not mainstream, it’s a prop that is becoming increasingly popular. I think it represents a source of power and strength. Stylish, too.

We have even done expectant mothers in capes and swords. One mom-to-be told me, “Well, you know, even barbican warriors had to have pregnant warriors.” I suspect she is right. She was so thrilled with her scantily clad image, it became the wall image choice.

We have a small collection of swords, some slender and elegant, along with a couple of old style broadswords. However, my clients bring in some stunning swords from their collections. They are such beautiful pieces, and the women are so eager to finally be able to wield them for a camera.

Coming back to my collection, can you guess which sword is the most popular? Yup, that old broadsword, dullish blade and all. I must admit it looks fantastic with our huge, five foot tall wings.

Often we will spice the image up a bit with some digital additions. One client had a tattoo of a tiger, which she loved. We photographed her in our canyon, nude with the sword. We added dramatic lighting. Then to really set it off we put some smoke into the scene, to set off her “hero’s” pose. The hero pose is when we drop the camera down lower to shoot up making the person look tall, impressive, imposing and powerful. On the ledge behind her, we dropped in Tasha, a tiger we photographed in the studio a few years back. Gave her tattoo a little glow, and the whole thing looked pretty incredible.

Another time we had an artist add a huge dragon rearing up on the edge of a ruined castle, with a huge starlight night behind him. My client, with her own gilded battle sword wearing only a stylized loincloth, held her sword up as if taming her ride.

I like to use light that adds mystery and character to the woman, then have her holding the sword in ways that reflect confidence and style. And the position of the sword can help hide tummies as much as add an air of danger.

It’s rarely the only approach to a session. There is a wonderful contrast between the sword images and the bedroom set images. It’s interesting that most women who want to pose with the sword want to do it nude. It’s very Amazonish.

The sword is a very versatile prop, and set up properly it can look very much a part of a boudoir set.

Modern culture is embracing warrior women, so I think I will be seeing more of it. With TV shows like Game of Thrones and the Vikings, along with movies like Thor and the Hobbit series, it is becoming mainstream.

Would you like to be wielding a sword for a portion of your photo session? What do you think it would say about you?

Posted by: Mark Laurie

World-renown photoartist Mark Laurie of Inner Spirit Photography specializes in Female Portraiture: nudes, boudoir, prenatal & fine art. His empowering images of women reveal their heart & soul.