Picture Perfect

The question that I’m asked most often is how does one crossdress?

Well, the short answer; it’s very easy. Put on a pair of panties, slip on stilettos, or wear a dress and ta-da, you are crossdressing.

The longer (and more polite) answer is that it essentially comes down to your goals. Are you looking to get better at walking in heels?  Do you need to find your correct dress size?  Do you need to perfect your eyeliner?  Changing your gender presentation can be a very multifaceted process.  Yes, wearing nail polish could be considered crossdressing by the definition of wearing something associated with a gender that is different than the one you were assigned at birth, but for many of us we want more than that.

Crossdressing is something that takes time, money, and patience. You will not be able to walk five miles in six inch heels on your first try. You won’t get your color correcting perfected the first time you wear makeup. It will take more than one try to hook a push up bra behind your back.  Practice, practice, and more practice. I spent a lot of money in achieving my look. The $39 foundation is better for my skin than the $6 options at Target. The $15 pair of stockings last longer than cheaper pairs. You should expect to invest much time money into this to learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s all about the trial and error, girls.

Taking a good picture is an important part of that. In the early days, my wife patiently took hundreds of pictures of me. Some pictures made me very happy, while some destroyed my self-esteem.  Slowly, we both learned which angles work best, which poses are the most flattering, and how important lighting is. As the photos improved, so did my confidence.

I have been modeling for four years now. I started modeling for Glamour Boutique in 2016, did some work for The Breast Form Store, and I’ve been modeling regularly for En Femme for a year now. Over the years, I have had a zillion photos taken by my friend and photographer, Shannonlee.  Her guidance, expertise, and friendship have been invaluable when it comes to getting a good picture. You can wear the prettiest dress, the cutest heels, and have the best makeover. You can take pictures in the most beautiful location, but none of that matters if your confidence is off. I’ve done many shoots where it takes me a little time to get into it, or get tired as the shoot goes on. Many times, I am on cloud 9 during a shoot, but there are times where I have to psyche myself up or have a cup of coffee to wake up a little.

The build up to a shoot is always fun, and it takes a lot of planning. Shannonlee and I have been working together for years, and I’ve rarely worked with anyone else. While we work on a date that works for both of us, at the same time I need to confirm with the designer that they will be able to get the clothes to me by the set date. It’s not always easy. Once the date is set, then I schedule my makeover. There are two local salons that I primarily work with, but if they are not an option, then I am usually able to schedule an appointment with a large chain, like Ulta or Sephora.  While I am scheduling my appointment, Shannonlee is scouting locations. Sometimes we book a studio, sometimes we shoot in the park or even a hotel.  It depends on what I am modeling or if it is a seasonal shoot. Last year, we did the winter line for En Femme so we did our photo shoot at a mall in front of all the pretty festive decorations and lights. If it’s a shoot at a mall or somewhere public, we have to make sure we don’t need a permit. Once the clothes arrive, I make sure they fit. Once I have the clothes, then I work on matching the outfits to heels and accessories, unless these are provided.

Finally, the day of the shoot is here and we get to work. As a t-girl who is over six feet tall without heels, I never blend in anyway, but having a professional photographer taking pictures and guiding me in my poses or where I stand draws even more attention.  Being able to block out the stares and not get distracted is key. I need to be focused on the work, and if I am letting something or someone draw my attention it will show in the photo. As the shoot progresses, finding a place to change outfits is necessary. Usually, this isn’t an issue, but I would be lying if I said I never had to change my dress in a portable toilet.

What goes into a good photo?  Well, time and patience. The angle is crucial. Since I am tall, Shannonlee will often use a stepladder to shoot down as I tend to look better from that angle.  Usually side or profile shots of my face end up looking too masculine, so tilting my head down or looking straight ahead presents better than when my head is tilted up. When I pose, I try to minimize my hands by showing less of them, which can be tricky as having my hands resting on my hips tends to be a good pose. It shows off my figure. Shannonlee is amazing when it comes to getting the right pose. She will ask me to tilt my head, look in a specific direction, or stand in a certain way. After working together for this long, I am able to pose without too much direction, but I am always happy and thankful for her expertise.

Finally, when the shoot is over Shannonlee gets to work on photo editing. She adjusts the lighting, crops the picture, and does whatever magic she needs to do to make me look pretty. I am sure it’s a longer and harder process than she makes it look. 🙂  Once she sends the photos to me, I pick out the ones I like the best and send them into En Femme or use them for a dress or shoe review for either my website or for whoever provided the clothes to me.

And then we excitedly wait for the next shoot.

Love, Hannah

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Hannah McKnight

Hi! My name is Hannah McKnight and I identify as transgender but I prefer the term T-Girl. My mission is to talk about what it’s like to balance a life between genders. I identify as transgender however I have no plans to transition, live full-time, or take hormones. I am happy to go back and forth between my different gender identities. Over the years I have gotten more involved with trans-activism, social awareness and creating a supportive environment for all transwomen. I run a social and support group for transgender women called the MN T-Girls and I currently model and blog for En Femme.

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Rachel Stephens
Rachel Stephens (@rachel1300)
3 days ago

So enjoyed reading this, very good

Joan Michaels
Member
Joan Michaels (@joan0880)
1 month ago

Love your insights! Hannah

Haley Ann
Haley Ann (@cdhaley)
1 month ago

I love Hannah! Thanks for sharing so much

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