“The Housewives”, Private Commissions:
This is Louise

(Please note:¬†“The Housewives” was a term I fondly coined in 2006 after I started getting shoot requests from private individual women. 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, 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. When posting under “The Housewives” it means I am choosing some of my favourite images from one of these shoots publishing them here along with my and or her ¬†experiences and memories).

Louise-IMG_1055-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

I met and shot beautiful Louise in September 2006.

She may have been the first private commissioned job (in this genre) that I photographed on location.

Louise inspired me then and she inspires me still. She had a strong sense of self and a confidence about herself and her body that I admire.

Louise-IMG_1038-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

We started her shoot on Witsands beach early in the morning. It was overcast and freezing, a few surfers were braving it out in the swell, we began in the dunes, a little way back from the beach. Louise must have been quite cold but she was also determined and absolutely accommodating to each of my ideas. Her goosebumps show the temperature but also add to the vulnerability of the open-air environment and therefore to the tone of the resulting pictures.

I brought a handful of natural props to the shoot but focussed more on highlighting the moody ambience of the morning and the beach textures in contrast with her femininity.

Louise-IMG_0998-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

We shot a series of different bedroom-type looks later.
This part of our shoot together was a creative medley of props and looks we had pre-discussed. We used lingerie, accessories and backgrounds to create variety, some playful and fun tones, others more sensual or themed. The below images are a few examples.

Louise-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

Louise had opted for a more outdoorsy feel overall and so, towards the end of the day, we left for Llandudno beach to catch the sunset, set against giant granite boulders there.
Just to the left of the main beach are a small series of mini-beach-alcoves which are beautiful and very secluded for shooting in, it depends of course on the time of the year, sand and the tides but we were lucky- the rock was perfectly exposed, tide was out and the light was magical.

Louise-IMG_2034-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

We brought and used minimal props,- just a few items such as cloth and oil which complemented the textural quality of the environment.

Louise-IMG_1900-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

Louise-IMG_2078-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

Looking back 9 years on work I shot at the start of my journey is gratifying. Each interaction with a woman I document is like a peek into the nature of women, femininity, their/our vulnerability and strength.

These images of Louise remind me not just about how much I’ve learned since I worked with her but about how each experience I’ve had has moulded my own understanding of our individuality and identity within the culture we reside.

Louise-IMG_1980-Photographed-2006-by-Leah-Hawker

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