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Women I've Shot

MOTHERHOOD & FAMILY SHOOT
With Chrystal

I adore this image above of Chrystal and little Oleana, it’s one of my new favourite breastfeeding portraits.
Chrystal contacted me when she was 4 months pregnant and we set up a maternity shoot (which turned into 3 shoots! You can see them here, here and here), her child birth and newborn shoot.

Captured here is her newborn shoot.

I really like to try and incorporate some ‘real’ moments when I shoot with newborns…its not all a smiles and roses ride after all.

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Women I've Shot

Corporate Commission: Alan Walt Architects & Ass.
The Client Christmas Card 2013/4

Alan-Walt-Puzzle-A4

This was Alan Walt and my 4th collaboration together.

Alan is a South African architect based in Cape Town who I met around 2007 when he approached me to shoot one of his end-of-year/Christmas cards which he sends out to his clients, usually late, but none the less around the December/January mark.

The end of year client card is a space for him to collaborate with artists and to create a thought provoking and generally provocative (when working with me) product of some kind to share with the people he has worked with during a year.

Alan usually comes to me with a starting point of some kind from which we grow an idea which I shoot. The 2013/4 collaboration intended to incorporate the “AWA” (Alan Walt Architects) logo into the cut out wedge of the models high heels. A play on power and rather reminiscent of Helmut Newtons nudes,- the model stands strong and dominantly. She stands on the clients brand (via the logo cut wedges in the heels) at the same time she’s incapacitated by wearing the heels as well as the blindfold.

This image by Newton comes to mind...the disabled yet powerful woman.
This image by Newton comes to mind…the disabled yet powerful woman.

The project morphed so that by the end we produced a 48 or 72 piece A4 puzzle from the image which would be delivered or sent out to his clients.

The below images show the camera RAW files in Bridge (Photoshops editing software) as the images get edited down to a final selection for the project.

AWA-2013-Editing-Process-Alan messed around with some of the images (below). He printed out the above files and cut them up to resemble the beginning of a collage shaped as a “W”. I  like this idea better in hindsight and maybe we’ll still put it together one day as a print for his office.

Regerence-to-AWA-2013

Below is the first proof printed puzzle and lastly, I gave the model (a friend and also a photographic assistant in our space) a copy. I left the piece stacked up in a little mysterious pile on her desk for her to find and assemble when she came in to work.

The-Puzzle-AWA-2013

The-AWA-Puzzle-snaps

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Women I've Shot

“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Elloise

(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.)

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Private-Commissions-Nudes-Boudoir-Cape-Town-002-Photography-Leah-Hawker-

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.

Private-Commissions-Nudes-Boudoir-Cape-Town-006-Photography-Leah-Hawker-

 

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!

Private-Commissions-Nudes-Boudoir-Cape-Town-004-Photography-Leah-Hawker-

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.

Private-Commissions-Nudes-Boudoir-Cape-Town-007-Photography-Leah-Hawker-

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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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