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Commercial Commission
For (anonymous) Hotel-ware brand

I shot this short campaign for this a hotel ware brand in about 2012 (keeping it anonymous as their competitors might be a little perturbed about the one page). It was a fun studio shoot with about 18 people (models and staff of the company) who took part in different ways.

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Commercial Commission
For Sawubona Magazine & Ndalo Media

This is Siba Mtongana

Siba is a South African celebrity chef and television presenter known as the host of the cooking Channel Siba’s Table.
I met and photographed Siba for the below profile story in Sawubona magazine. The article covered the development  go inflight catering for Business Class travellers on SAA’s outbound international routes.
We shot in March 2018 in her kitchen studios in Woodstock. You can find her Instagram feed here.

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An Interview: Breastfeeding101 – A portrayal of the pleasures & pains of breastfeeding

This is Abigail

South African, age 34
Location At the post office in Mowbray, Cape Town, South Africa
Feeding her 13-month-old child
Photographed August 2017

When my daughter was six months old, I returned to work. During the build-up to that Monday I spent the weekend stressing that I would not be able to provide her with enough expressed milk for my first day away from her.  Ultimately the stressing served no purpose; in spite of it I ended up having more than enough. I had to pump milk at work, hands-free, sometimes in mid-conversation with colleagues – and not be inhibited, or make them feel so*. Breastfeeding’s longevity and success are very much controlled by how we approach it and the environment we create around it. It can be the most joyful experience any mother can have if faced head-on, without fear or inhibition. I have pretty much fed anywhere, respectfully, and chosen not to worry about it most of the time. Whether others have cared or not, I can’t say. They have not been my focus.

The bond I have with my daughter while she is feeding is incredible. Feeling her hair against my skin, her weight in my arms… it’s very satisfying, the rush of the milk being let down when she starts to feed, her stroking my arm or touching my neck. She is more confident and secure and I believe this is strongly connected to the relationship created during breastfeeding. When she is sad, sick, worried or sore, breastfeeding and breast milk soothes and comforts her in a way that nothing else can. It is consistent – unlike anything else in life.

I think we all experience our bodies, breasts and breastfeeding in our own way. Yes, our bodies are sexy and completely awesome and should be idolised in their many shapes and forms, but at the same time our basic biological function is procreation. That is the sobering part that condemning types like to overlook when they start their criticisms. Breastfeeding is equally beautiful, is less provocative and exposes a woman’s beauty and strength in another light.

Why would you spend money on formula that is firstly, costly and secondly, not uniquely designed as your breast milk is, for the individual needs of your child? If you are producing your own milk and are able to feed your baby with reasonable ease, then there should not be the need for another option.

<sidenote>
Abigail works as a Freelance Costume Supervisor for Films and Series.

In 2019 I published my first book, Breastfeeding 101, which features candid portraits of 101 breastfeeding women as well their honest stories. In this blog post you see one of the mothers represented with her blurb from the book.

The idea for this book was unexpectedly sparked three years ago when I started seeing a lot of controversial social media content about breasts, nipples and breastfeeding.


Looking forward I hope my book can help normalise what is already a women’s most natural act. I would love to see the breastfeeding percentage rate in South Africa double. It came as a surprise to learn that, according to the 2018 statistics of the World Health Organisation (WHO), our country has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.

Breastfeeding 101 features mothers from South Africa as well as around the globe and serves as a first-hand body of information – an unintentional handbook – directly from the women it captures.

Breastfeeding 101 is a book that wasn’t intended as a manual but may serve as one.

Basic info about the book:

Title: Breastfeeding 101
Publisher: Self-published via Staging Post
Format: Hardcover, 22 x 27cm, 224 pages
Price: ZAR385
Available for purchase via Exclusive Books, The Book Lounge and directly from the author.

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Books | Mags | Articles | Ads | Film Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

Playmate Pictorial: “Miss September”
for Playboy Magazine, South Africa

I met, shot and worked with Jade in mid Winter of 2011 for her September edition of Playboy South Africa. Jade is a beautiful, feisty, confident model and now friend who I totally loved working with on both her Miss September shoot and her Playmate of The Year shoot the following year.

Above is the opening double page spread for her print editorial.

Jades shoot was my first one for the brand and it was super exciting working for them, shooting inside the Cape Town Stadium and working with a huge cast of extras who played the “fans” in the background of the first series of images for the shoot.

Above are some behind the scenes shots of Jade and Colleen getting hair and makeup ready.

Above shots (not mine) are of the Cape Town Stadium which was relatively new during the time we shot there in 2011.

Some questions and answers with Jade…

Why did you decide to pose for this brand? 

Playboy is a prestigious brand known worldwide and is still one of the very few popular brands for which people are daring enough to tattoo the logo (the bunny head) onto their bodies!

When I heard that Playboy was returning to South Africa and was scouting for local ladies to cast I couldn’t resist by trying my luck to see if I would fit their ‘girl next door’ look.

Some screen grabs above and below from Jades Miss September behind-the-scenes video. You can find it here.
We had a cast of about 12-15 extras playing the “fans” at the stadium. We shot on the field and in the changing rooms which is where Jades centrefold comes from.

What were your expectations of your role as a playmate and the brands use of the content? 

From the outset, the roles of a Playmate and the brand’s expectations were clear- and which I was eager to fulfil. Any expectations I had of becoming a Playmate were far superseded from first publication and continued to be exceeded throughout my experience. I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined how my life would have changed and everything that was to come!

What was the shoot experience like? 

I’ve always loved being in the makeup chair so photo shoot preparations are great!

My first shoot for Playboy South Africa was this, my Miss September 2011 shoot, which was the first photo shoot to ever be done at the Cape Town Stadium in July 2011. It was cold, as it was still winter, and the theme – centred around the upcoming Rugby World Cup – included over a dozen male extras in the stands as spectators.

My second shoot for Playboy South Africa was the cover shoot of the March 2012 issue where I was being announced as Playboy South Africa’s very first Playmate of the Year for 2012. The photo shoot team included all the same terrific people I worked with on my first shoot so we already had a firm friendship to work from. We jet set off to Zambia where we shot at the seven-star Royal Chundu Lodge and on the Zambezi river for two days.

The only way to describe my experiences of these shoots is that each has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

How did you feel about being nude during the shoot?

Both of my shoots were on location and while the second didn’t include any extras – there were public bystanders. Fortunately, for me, I’m not self-conscious or shy so I don’t have any issues with public nudity and feel comfortable being that way. I actually enjoyed the experience and felt exhilarated throughout the shoots.

What was it like working with me as your photographer?

Having worked with several photographers in my time modelling I can say with confidence that you, Leah, are in a league of your own. I have met only but a handful of people who possess such an eye for the photography of women. I have never seen myself more beautiful than when you have been the one taking the pictures.

Do you feel in any way that the images exposed you more than you thought they would?

No, from the pre-shoot discussions based on the storyboard I had a clear understanding of what would be shot and the end result of the images. However, there are hundreds of images from a shoot and more than a dozen put forward for final publication selection, I would have hoped to have seen the images during the selection process and even given input but this was something done solely by the editorial team.

After the years have passed since the shoot have your feelings changed about the images of yourself or of having made the choice to pose nude for Playboy?

Not at all, I am still very proud of my images and being affiliated with the Playboy brand. I think not only did it create great exposure for me but I also contributed tremendously to the growth of the brand in South Africa.

What kind of feedback did you get in response to the images published?

The public response was overwhelming as I hadn’t expected it to be as great as it was. People locally and abroad reached out to me and supported me. It was ultimately their support which grew my own brand and leads to my further success.

Professionally, it was my Playmate of the Year title and shoot which got me noticed internationally, with me being awarded Playboy Playmate titles in Hungary – Miss November 2012 – and in Croatia – Miss December 2012. Eight other international editions of the Playboy magazine also featured my shoot as feature pictorials, this includes; Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and the USA.

I’m proud to say, I’m the most featured local south African Playboy playmate internationally.

What direction has your life taken since your shoot/publication with Playboy?

Transitioning from commercial modelling to fitness has been a profound experience which has had its own successes, with 15 body building competitions under my belt and two first place titles on the shelf, it is the other placings which have taught me the most.
I continue to pursue my passions which, with dedication, will surely become achievements.

 

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