(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 photographed Elle in December 2006, fresh from my graduate body of work, she was one of the first five private clients I was ever commissioned to shoot. The images were intended as an anniversary or Christmas gift for her hubby and I was surprised and happy that she was very direct and clear about what she wanted photographed. She was a model, by profession, and at that time a brand new mother to a baby just a few months old, I remember her telling me that she had timed her breast feeding that morning so as to have fuller breasts for the shoot since she was so lean.
The shoot had a bondage/S&M theme and I managed (I’m still not quite sure how I got away with this to be honest) to get the dungeon at the Castle of Good Hope as our totally perfect shoot location. It was on Saturday morning and the shoot was interrupted often by tourists who kept walking in to view the space. The surprise at what they found was pretty entertaining and they looked more at the ropes and lingerie than at anything historic…
I brought a number of items with me, most of which I had collected or created myself for my graduate body of photographs and I suggested to her to bring lingerie, heels etc. She was amazing to photograph.
As one of the first pro models I ever worked with I realised how well she understood the angels of her own body in relation to the camera (or sound of my shutter clicking since she was blind folded in every single image I shot of her).
We shot a sequence of different looks that morning, from black lace lingerie to a super cute three-piece underwear set with heart details (which a previous client had gifted me!) to Shibari and vintage corsets.
My lighting which has always been haphazard and somewhat intuitive felt perfect on this particular shoot and it seemed to enhance that sort of fierce look related to the dominant and submissive concept.
We used wigs quite extensively on this shoot which lent weight to the anonymous submissiveness of the subject, her eyes always hidden. I tied the rope body harness myself for the shibari images.
This last image was one of her favourites, I think it was because of the realistic nature of the rope movement which looks like a whip in this pic.
Working with Elle was exhilarating, every shot was beautiful, with every click I made she moved to a new pose, fluently, instinctively and with total control. We parted ways that day and I was left feeling inspired.