Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

A Sunday Times Article on my Work

The Sunday Times Heading July 2007

This is an article written by Lauren Cohen for The Sunday Times, cover story and page 3.

I started shooting these kinds of private commissions in 2005 at which time I was finishing up or exhibiting my graduate body of work on erotic female stereotypes. Many of the first shoots I did were styled on the themes in my grad work. People started approaching me about the images but wanted themselves to be the subject in a re-created version.

Wives’ hot pictures put sauce back into marriage

Women are living out their wildest fantasies in sexy photo shoots

Tired of seeing your husband’s eyes glaze over as he unwraps that predictable gift of socks? Sexy photo shoots commissioned by a growing number of Cape Town housewives and businesswomen- acting out their wildest fantasies- are serving up a visual feast for their partners. From bondage to boudoir and food to frills, women in their 20s to 40s are baring (almost) all in steamy yet tasteful photographs by Leah Hawker.

By day Jane Baard is the executive director of a national business servingblue-chip companies. By night she treads the boards as one of the Cape’s top amateur actresses. Baard gave husband Doug classic black and white photographs of herself in lingerie for his 52nd birthday last year. “He was absolutely flabbergasted and thrilled to bits”, she said. One of the images has pride of place on their bedroom wall. “Some people are very offended by them. I come from an artistic family and my father was proud of them, while my step-mom had a hissy fit and said they were degrading. I think men talk openly about [sexual issues] while women have a lot more inhibitions. This was an expression of me feeling comfortable with my body”, she said. A “thrilled” Doug said he was “very taken” with his gift. “It was something completely different from the usual books, ties and aftershave. The pictures were intimate and personal, tastefully done. And its your wife, which makes it extra special”, he said.

With her 40th looming large, Debbie Davis, who works in her husband’s car-customing business, decided to pose for pictures she could “look back on and admire in 20 years”. “We rented a hotel room at the Victoria Junction [hotel] and did pictures with a burlesque theme as well as some of me in a nurse’s outfit.” Pictures of the platinum blonde bound with rope in the boot of one of her husband’s classic cars, as well as in a dominatrix theme in a graveyard at night, were taken. “My husband wants me to do more. It’s done wonders for our relationship after 10 years of marriage.” Davis said.

International model Electra, 34, had a “tongue-in-cheek, sexy and playful shoot” done for her boyfriennd’s Christmas present last year. “I wanted an S&M them so we got permission to shoot in the dungeon at the Castle [of Good Hope]. I was hiding behind teh door wearing wigs, garters, handcuffs and ropes in between the tourists popping in,” she said. Electra said one of her main reasons for doing the shoot was her son’s first birthday celebration. “When you’re pregnant and then doing the mommy thing, you become so unattached to your inner tigress. I needed to step into my womanhood again.”

A cosmetic buyer, who asked to be named only as Elizabeth, gave her husband a kinky twist to the traditional first wedding anniversary gift of paper- erotic pictures of his beloved. The 29-year-old said the shoot had been a boost for her sexual confidence. “It’s a great experience for any girl,” she said.

Hawker started photographing the naked female form while completing her graduate thesis on erotic female stereotypes at the Ruth Prowse School of Art. She admits most of her subjects have “commercially acceptable” body types “but most still think they are inadequate”. “I’ve learned how to relax my subjects. Most shoots have crazy moments and giggling at bizarre circumstances: how often do you pour a bottle of honey all over yourself or roll in cake? “Some women want gorgeous images of themselves, which is really self-affirming; others feel they have a “sell-by date” and want to capture themslevs in the now.”

The Sunday Times Article July 2007

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