(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 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.
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.
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.
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.