(Note: “The Housewives” was a term I fondly coined in 2006 after I started getting shoot requests from private, individual women who became my clients. Many of the women who contacted me were married and in their mid 30’s and were doing the shoots as gifts to their husbands. 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 and the demographic has changed substantially over the years. 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.)
I asked Cindy* a bit about her reasons for shooting, her approach to the process and her feelings about her body:
My intention for the shoot was to feel what it was like in front of the camera.
I was interested in photography and I thought it would be a good way to understand subjects’ reactions and personalities after learning from my own experience in front of the lens.
I didn’t know this was Cindy’s specific reason for our shoot together and it was interesting to find out in hindsight that she had approached it with an intention of understanding the subjects perspective, something I’ve experienced myself of course but not a concept that I would have expected from a woman commissioning a shoot like this.
In retrospect I realise how often my privately commissioned clients make similar comments during or at the end of the shoot,- about how intense, hard, specific etc the task of documentation is as well as achieving results one feels reflect societies notions of our identity of women.
I photographed Cindy in a make-shift studio: in a private home in the lounge. The images are predominantly segmented which makes the aspect of a home space and the “public/private” element so interesting for me.
I was shy about my body as I had never done a shoot like this before and been “exposed” or nude in this context. I was, however, relatively happy with my body at the time we worked together.
My self identity has changed leaps and bounds since this time. My body at the initial shoot was very athletic. Now, as a mother of two and being much older, my body has changed! Even though it is not quite where I want it, I am far more comfortable in my skin and would not hesitate to bare all next time.
As mentioned before, Cindy was directive about the approach and outcome for the shoot. Her sense of aesthetic relating to the female form/nudes, was specific. Comic and fun to work with, she had clear ideas about how she wanted the images approached.
A simple full frontal nude is not so much my thing which is why I went for the style we shot on our shoot together.
I appreciate the female nude, but personally prefer the more artsy approach which is perhaps more abstract and segmented;- highlighting various parts of the body for the beauty of each area. The shoot with you was incredible!
I’m sometimes surprised to hear my clients perspectives about a nude shoot and almost always am re-influenced about the shoot in hindsight after hearing what the client may have sensed or felt about either the experience, their body or the resulting images, especially after so much time passing.
Looking at Cindys images now, 8 years later, I’m taken with the incredibly tactile nature of the outcome and how accurate her sensibilities were about her approach. The details of her body, her skin are sensual, private and bold. And even though I’ve shot many very similar images in the past, these are so striking even after all this time.
*Name changed for privacy reasons