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Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Lairen

(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 photographer WBFF pro figure model Lairen Terblanche for the second time in 2016. She has a body that takes so much work and dedication to maintain and photographically its interesting and quite amazing to work with. Sculptural in ways.

I asked Lairen a few questions about the experience below:

What motivated you to do this shoot? Its different to our last shoot in that this seemed to be more about you as apposed to our first shoot together which felt like it was much more about body building. What were your feelings about doing this shoot, what motivated you?

I have always wanted to pose for playboy and you know I still do.

Having a different body I know I am not the Playboy look but was great to be able to work with someone like you Leah… amazing, my second time to do so. I mean THE photographer of Playboy….Playboy experience and has a certain way of taking her photos.

Classy sexy…

I also wouldn’t be scared or feel uncomfortable taking my clothes off or doing a certain pose that would only be something my husband would see. . . .

And what was the experience of the shoot itself like for you?

The experience was thrilling… I felt so comfortable… and I just … I don’t know it was so empowering… also when we got to full nudes… having my husband watching me… well …. I felt proud. Very proud. I want to do it again and I know Etienne wants me to do it again lol ! A memory just came up yesterday haha!

It was a rush… being able to pose the way I want in what I want and just celebrating a body I worked very very hard for. Granted. I am much more relaxed now and I am working on a smaller, softer frame… probably more your play boy look to be honest :) I guess I have just come to the realization that I have competed…. and I wont compete again so now carrying around muscle mass that I dont need for stage is just silly.

From the end of Lairen interview she add…. So sweet!

Leah you are amazing. I LOVE working with you. They say you know you have found a great photographer who can capture great images of you that don’t require a lot of editing at all. As much as I also know the responsibility lies with me to look the way I need to for whatever it is I do.

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Women I've Shot

MODEL PORTFOLIO: With Janna

I really enjoyed working with model and yogi, Janna, of 20 Model Management in Cape Town for her newest portfolio.

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Women I've Shot

“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Cindy

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-004-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

(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.)

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-002-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-008-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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.

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-007-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-001-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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.

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-003-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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.

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-009-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-006-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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.

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-010-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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.

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-012-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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!

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-011-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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.

Cape-Town-Conceptual-Nude-Boudoir-Studio-Photoshoot-005-Photograph-by-Leah-Hawker

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

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Women I've Shot

Pregnancy Portrait: This is Ursula

Pregnancy-Portrait-Cape-Town-Maternity-Photography-002-by-Leah-Hawker

I met Ursula a number of years ago and was thrilled to be commissioned to shoot a series of pregnancy portraits of her as well as capture some family moments afterwards with herself, her daughter and her husband.

Ursula was pregnant with her second child, and in her third trimester when we worked together. The pregnancy portraits we shot were very simple but bold. I lit her with one light, set back, to just highlight her silhouette plus  a little bit more detail created by a poly board on her other side.

Pregnancy-Portrait-Cape-Town-Maternity-Photography-001-by-Leah-Hawker

There is a decadence in the profile of a pregnant women which I love. The shapes are so beautifully abundant. Every line of the female body becomes enhanced so that a series of interconnected spheres take over the body.

Heavily pregnant women, especially when shot in this style, remind me of the Venus of Willendorf, a paleolithic sculpture associated with fertility and childbearing (picture below).

venusofwillendorf

Ursula and I also shot a few images with her young daughter in an embrace, the  resulting image I find to be a special reflection of motherhood.
Together their bodies become a knot of warmth, love and nurturing.

Pregnancy-Portrait-Cape-Town-Maternity-Photography-004-by-Leah-Hawker

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