Tag Archives: Boudoir Photoshoot Cape Town

“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Elloise

(Please note: “The Housewives” was a term I fondly coined in 2006 after I started getting shoot requests from private individual women. The folder in my archives is still called this and so I’ve stuck to it, in part just for the irony. Most of these women are not “housewives” at all, but strong independent and forward thinking women who I have had the honour of documenting. All are private commissions, some I’m still in contact with, others I’ve totally lost contact with, some have become friends, some may wish not to have their real names used, others don’t mind, some may have their faces obscured for privacy reasons, others have generously shared their experiences of being photographed. When posting under “The Housewives” it means I am choosing some of my favourite images from one of these shoots publishing them here along with my and or her  experiences and memories).

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This is Elloise, one of my beautiful cousins. We shot one Summery afternoon in 2007 at Roodebloem studios in Woodstock, a time before I had my own studio. The shoot comprised of three different looks over about  an hour: “Domina”, “Nurse” and a bedroom-y looking series in pretty lingerie on crumpled sheets.
I’ve selected a few of my favourites, with her permission, to share here.

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This was one of the first times I shot with this super fun vinyl nurses outfit. I had the stethoscope in my collection from a time when a friend of ours had been in South Africa studying obstetrics.

Our shoot was kind of like a social get-together: during the same session I also documented her sister and a friend of hers. All four of us giggled and drank bubbly in-between piles of lingerie and lighting gear.

I asked Elloise about her sense of body identity during the shoot and now, since becoming a mother:

Since becoming a mom I am more self aware of my body but the cool thing is: I don’t care!!! I felt awkward about myself when we shot together for sure! Thats why I had to drink so much champagne!

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I remember being very nervous when I walked into the studio to have the shoot session with you. The nervousness didn’t last long though… You were so professional, I felt at ease very soon. In fact, I felt as though I had been doing this sort of thing for years!
It turned out to be a really fun afternoon and the results were amazing! I still look at those photos! I would repeat the experience in a heart beat.

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“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Nicola

(Please note: “The Housewives” was a term I fondly coined in 2006 after I started getting shoot requests from private individual women. The folder in my archives is still called this and so I’ve stuck to it, in part just for the irony. Most of these women are not “housewives” at all, but strong independent and forward thinking women who I have had the honour of documenting. All are private commissions, some I’m still in contact with, others I’ve totally lost contact with, some have become friends, some may wish not to have their real names used, others don’t mind, some may have their faces obscured for privacy reasons, others have generously shared their experiences of being photographed. When posting under “The Housewives” it means I am choosing some of my favourite images from one of these shoots publishing them here along with my and or her  experiences and memories).

In 2007 I documented Nicola. The shoot was an interesting one- I worked with three friends, all in their mid twenties. It felt like a social gathering, a party and a shoot all at once. The shoot was initiated by Nicola and two more of our friends joined at the tail-end of the shoot, so that by the end of the afternoon I had documented a series of images for each of the three women (the other images will each be posted separately at a later stage though).

This was at a time before I had my own studio and rented a small space with gear from Roodebloem Studios in Woodstock.
We set about producing three different looks for her shoot, some are the ones selected and posted here.

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I asked her to share a bit about her experience, her feelings about her body and about the images that were created on that day, 7 years ago…

My friend and I had seen a lot of your beautiful photography over the years and we thought it would be fun and memorable to do a shoot together. You being a friend, made it all the more appealing, as there was no sense of awkwardness and the idea of having a set of sexy but tasteful images of ourselves was a nice idea .

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I have not ‘used’ the images, but I look at them from time to time, and, it is worth noting, that looking at the pictures now reminds me of how hard we can be on ourselves, as I think now that I looked lovely in the pictures, but I did not feel confident about my body at the time, so it’s a good reminder of how warped our perspectives can be!
It was a great experience.
I enjoyed dressing up, it was fun to be ‘directed’ by someone – and learn a few little tricks on how you can manipulate your ‘look’ by making a few subtle changes to your pose, for example.
I came away from the shoot excited and feeling good about my body.

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At the time of the shoot, I was feeling a little uncertain about my body. I had recently lost quite a bit of weight, an achievement I was quite proud of, but I was still very self conscious and unsure of how I would come across on camera. Through out the shoot however, I was made to feel totally at ease and as if there was no question that I could be gorgeous.

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I am now 32 and feel much more comfortable in my skin. Although I do have wobbles every now and again, I think overall, I feel much less concerned and am quite happy with myself.
I like to look back at the pictures- it’s fun and a nice reminder of a really good day with friends!

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From the variety of images we shot together that day, the last one, the one posted above with the apples, is my favourite, it reminds me of some Renaissance paintings, especially the lighting and colouring.

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“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Louise

(Please note: “The Housewives” was a term I fondly coined in 2006 after I started getting shoot requests from private individual women. The folder in my archives is still called this and so I’ve stuck to it, in part just for the irony. Most of these women are not “housewives” at all, but strong independent and forward thinking women who I have had the honour of documenting. All are private commissions, some I’m still in contact with, others I’ve totally lost contact with, some have become friends, some may wish not to have their real names used, others don’t mind, some may have their faces obscured for privacy reasons, others have generously shared their experiences of being photographed. When posting under “The Housewives” it means I am choosing some of my favourite images from one of these shoots publishing them here along with my and or her  experiences and memories).

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I met and shot beautiful Louise in September 2006.

She may have been the first private commissioned job (in this genre) that I photographed on location.

Louise inspired me then and she inspires me still. She had a strong sense of self and a confidence about herself and her body that I admire.

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We started her shoot on Witsands beach early in the morning. It was overcast and freezing, a few surfers were braving it out in the swell, we began in the dunes, a little way back from the beach. Louise must have been quite cold but she was also determined and absolutely accommodating to each of my ideas. Her goosebumps show the temperature but also add to the vulnerability of the open-air environment and therefore to the tone of the resulting pictures.

I brought a handful of natural props to the shoot but focussed more on highlighting the moody ambience of the morning and the beach textures in contrast with her femininity.

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We shot a series of different bedroom-type looks later.
This part of our shoot together was a creative medley of props and looks we had pre-discussed. We used lingerie, accessories and backgrounds to create variety, some playful and fun tones, others more sensual or themed. The below images are a few examples.

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Louise had opted for a more outdoorsy feel overall and so, towards the end of the day, we left for Llandudno beach to catch the sunset, set against giant granite boulders there.
Just to the left of the main beach are a small series of mini-beach-alcoves which are beautiful and very secluded for shooting in, it depends of course on the time of the year, sand and the tides but we were lucky- the rock was perfectly exposed, tide was out and the light was magical.

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We brought and used minimal props,- just a few items such as cloth and oil which complemented the textural quality of the environment.

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Looking back 9 years on work I shot at the start of my journey is gratifying. Each interaction with a woman I document is like a peek into the nature of women, femininity, their/our vulnerability and strength.

These images of Louise remind me not just about how much I’ve learned since I worked with her but about how each experience I’ve had has moulded my own understanding of our individuality and identity within the culture we reside.

Louise-IMG_1980-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

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“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is “Amiyra”

(Please note: “The Housewives” was a term I fondly coined in 2006 after I started getting shoot requests from private individual women. The folder in my archives is still called this and so I’ve stuck to it, in part just for the irony. Most of these women are not “housewives” at all, but strong independent and forward thinking women who I have had the honour of documenting. All are private commissions, some I’m still in contact with, others I’ve totally lost contact with, some have become friends, some may wish not to have their real names used, others don’t mind, some may have their faces obscured for privacy reasons, others have generously shared their experiences of being photographed. When posting under “The Housewives” it means I am choosing some of my favourite images from one of these shoots publishing them here along with my and or her  experiences and memories).

Cape Town Photography -Nudes - boudoir  09 by Leah Hawker 2006

I met Amiyra (name changed for privacy) during the time I was studying in 2003. She approached me to shoot a few years later and we shot in the photographic studio at Ruth Prowse which I had access to at the time.

I had put together a few reference ideas for the shoot; we went with two quite moody and low-key set-ups; one utilising a designer chair and lingerie as props and the other with only lighting to highlight the form of her body.

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I asked her to bring along a selection of her own heels and lingerie. Even though I already had options for her from my own collection I’ve always found it sensible for clients to bring a selection of their own which could cover any gaps in taste preference and fit. Amiyra was also particularly petite; a pair of knee highs stockings worked as thigh-highs on her.

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Amiyra was the only woman I’ve ever worked with who had piercings surprisingly. Notably only because this was during a time when genital or nipple piercing was pretty trendy in South Africa.

She struck me as someone who was self-contained, reserved yet uninhibited; with a strong sense of self. Her own perspective was then interesting to learn:

I considered myself to have a very plain appearance and even though I prefer to not stand out I needed a reminder of my sexy / provocative self. To some extent it was a confirmation to myself that this side of me exists.

Not having done a professional shoot prior to this, I do remember it being a very exhausting experience. Leah played a big part in making me feel as comfortable as possible and this discarded any fears I had of bearing myself in the manner in which I did.

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Over the years and since the shoot I have grown emotionally and am now very comfortable with both my body and my appearance.

Even though I am pleased with the images it does hold two truths for me. It is not only a reminder of my insecurities at the time but is also a reminder of my personal growth since then and how much happier and confident I am within myself now.

Cape Town Photography -Nudes - boudoir  04 by Leah Hawker 2006

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“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Therese

(Please note: “The Housewives” was a term I fondly coined in 2006 after I started getting shoot requests from private individual women. The folder in my archives is still called this and so I’ve stuck to it, in part just for the irony. Most of these women are not “housewives” at all, but strong independent and forward thinking women who I have had the honour of documenting. All are private commissions, some I’m still in contact with, others I’ve totally lost contact with, some have become friends, some may wish not to have their real names used, others don’t mind, some may have their faces obscured for privacy reasons, others have generously shared their experiences of being photographed. When posting under “The Housewives” it means I am choosing some of my favourite images from one of these shoots publishing them here along with my and or her  experiences and memories).

Cape Town Photography - Studio Portraits - Nudes 06 Leah Hawker

I met and worked with lovely Therese in July 2010. She was on holiday in Cape Town when we did her shoot.
She was clear and decisive about the look and creative orientation of the project from the get-go. I think she may have referenced some of my older commercial and graduate work from which she directed and singled out two specific looks,- two which were more elaborate and one more classic.

I was newly in my own studio and totally independent from all lecturing positions I’d held up till that point. I had stopped producing my own work (for personal reasons at the time) and was focusing almost solely on my commercial photography and private clients like Therese.
These kinds of shoots have always been an education in that there are so many elements which feed into my conceptual work and understanding of South African women and their very varying identities.

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You never stop learning (in any industry I suppose) and looking back at older work can be a strange and awkward experience. Naturally I can’t help seeing how much I would now do differently with five more years of experience, but it is also exactly this perspective which is so rewarding.

Therese was self assured about her intentions and all these years later, when I mailed her about working with her images again, she came forward confidently to express her experience.

Cape Town Photography - Studio Portraits - Nudes 02 Leah Hawker

 This was the first time a posed nude and I was nervous. I’ve always been more reserved and this was completely out of character for me.

For the first time in my life I felt good about my body image and wanted to have photos taken to emulate that. Once into the photo shoot I relaxed.

There are many reasons why I feel the way l do towards nudity: the way one was raised, morals, comfort level with oneself and with others.

I think some people feel as if they are going to be judged or they feel that being nude transfers to something sexual, but it doesn’t really.

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I remember my mother bathing in front of us being totally comfortable with her body and I always admired her beautiful breasts.

This photoshoot was my way of celebrating my image as an older woman, after having two boys. The photos are beautiful and it was a really cool experience seeing my body as art.

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Most of the women I’ve photographed privately are impressively self-confident  about their bodies, even if they may not necessarily identify with this. The fact that they are in my studio is already a sign of this.

This exact fact is one I find so compelling about women’s identities in our currently very “polished” world.
South Africa, in my experience, is conservative when it comes to any matters linked to the body/sexuality/nudity, and so when you work up close and personal with individuals the findings are surprisingly often the opposite.

Cape Town Photography - Studio Portraits - Nudes 01 Leah Hawker

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