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Playmate Pictorial: “Miss September”
for Playboy Magazine, South Africa

I met, shot and worked with Jade in mid Winter of 2011 for her September edition of Playboy South Africa. Jade is a beautiful, feisty, confident model and now friend who I totally loved working with on both her Miss September shoot and her Playmate of The Year shoot the following year.

Above is the opening double page spread for her print editorial.

Jades shoot was my first one for the brand and it was super exciting working for them, shooting inside the Cape Town Stadium and working with a huge cast of extras who played the “fans” in the background of the first series of images for the shoot.

Above are some behind the scenes shots of Jade and Colleen getting hair and makeup ready.

Above shots (not mine) are of the Cape Town Stadium which was relatively new during the time we shot there in 2011.

Some questions and answers with Jade…

Why did you decide to pose for this brand? 

Playboy is a prestigious brand known worldwide and is still one of the very few popular brands for which people are daring enough to tattoo the logo (the bunny head) onto their bodies!

When I heard that Playboy was returning to South Africa and was scouting for local ladies to cast I couldn’t resist by trying my luck to see if I would fit their ‘girl next door’ look.

Some screen grabs above and below from Jades Miss September behind-the-scenes video. You can find it here.
We had a cast of about 12-15 extras playing the “fans” at the stadium. We shot on the field and in the changing rooms which is where Jades centrefold comes from.

What were your expectations of your role as a playmate and the brands use of the content? 

From the outset, the roles of a Playmate and the brand’s expectations were clear- and which I was eager to fulfil. Any expectations I had of becoming a Playmate were far superseded from first publication and continued to be exceeded throughout my experience. I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined how my life would have changed and everything that was to come!

What was the shoot experience like? 

I’ve always loved being in the makeup chair so photo shoot preparations are great!

My first shoot for Playboy South Africa was this, my Miss September 2011 shoot, which was the first photo shoot to ever be done at the Cape Town Stadium in July 2011. It was cold, as it was still winter, and the theme – centred around the upcoming Rugby World Cup – included over a dozen male extras in the stands as spectators.

My second shoot for Playboy South Africa was the cover shoot of the March 2012 issue where I was being announced as Playboy South Africa’s very first Playmate of the Year for 2012. The photo shoot team included all the same terrific people I worked with on my first shoot so we already had a firm friendship to work from. We jet set off to Zambia where we shot at the seven-star Royal Chundu Lodge and on the Zambezi river for two days.

The only way to describe my experiences of these shoots is that each has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

How did you feel about being nude during the shoot?

Both of my shoots were on location and while the second didn’t include any extras – there were public bystanders. Fortunately, for me, I’m not self-conscious or shy so I don’t have any issues with public nudity and feel comfortable being that way. I actually enjoyed the experience and felt exhilarated throughout the shoots.

What was it like working with me as your photographer?

Having worked with several photographers in my time modelling I can say with confidence that you, Leah, are in a league of your own. I have met only but a handful of people who possess such an eye for the photography of women. I have never seen myself more beautiful than when you have been the one taking the pictures.

Do you feel in any way that the images exposed you more than you thought they would?

No, from the pre-shoot discussions based on the storyboard I had a clear understanding of what would be shot and the end result of the images. However, there are hundreds of images from a shoot and more than a dozen put forward for final publication selection, I would have hoped to have seen the images during the selection process and even given input but this was something done solely by the editorial team.

After the years have passed since the shoot have your feelings changed about the images of yourself or of having made the choice to pose nude for Playboy?

Not at all, I am still very proud of my images and being affiliated with the Playboy brand. I think not only did it create great exposure for me but I also contributed tremendously to the growth of the brand in South Africa.

What kind of feedback did you get in response to the images published?

The public response was overwhelming as I hadn’t expected it to be as great as it was. People locally and abroad reached out to me and supported me. It was ultimately their support which grew my own brand and leads to my further success.

Professionally, it was my Playmate of the Year title and shoot which got me noticed internationally, with me being awarded Playboy Playmate titles in Hungary – Miss November 2012 – and in Croatia – Miss December 2012. Eight other international editions of the Playboy magazine also featured my shoot as feature pictorials, this includes; Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and the USA.

I’m proud to say, I’m the most featured local south African Playboy playmate internationally.

What direction has your life taken since your shoot/publication with Playboy?

Transitioning from commercial modelling to fitness has been a profound experience which has had its own successes, with 15 body building competitions under my belt and two first place titles on the shelf, it is the other placings which have taught me the most.
I continue to pursue my passions which, with dedication, will surely become achievements.


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Playmate Pictorial: “Miss April”
for Playboy Magazine, South Africa

Hi worked with and photographed Kelly in early 2013 for her Miss April 2013 pictorial and centrefold in Playboy South Africa’s online and print editions.

The shoot was centred around the theme ‘postcards from Cape Town’ and was shot at two iconic postcard locations: Muizenberg beach’s colourful houses and Table View beach overlooking Table Mountain in the background.

Props and garments had a beach girl / surfer girl look with lots of cottons, floral prints and stripes. I don’t think I got permits for either location on time and was quite nervous about being stopped halfway into the shoot but it ended up being a perfect location day.

I think the above image was used as Kelly’s centrefold image.

Below are some behind the scenes type snaps from Kellys shoot.

Hair and makeup was done by the talented Colleen Van Rensburg, you can find her portfolio and agency here.

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Pictorial: “Women Only”
For Playboy Magazine, South Africa 2012

Playboy did a feature pictorial on my privately commissioned work in 2012. It was a 6 page spread. Ive added the original images in below as well.

The DPS shows images from the last 10 or so years, mostly private commissioned jobs by women.

Below the text in the article:

Women Only

Capetonian born and bred photographer, Leah Hawker, has specialized in one of our favorite subjects: Women.

She’s already shot our very own Jade Fairbrother as Miss September and we liked her work so much that we awarded her the prestigeous Playmate of the Year pictorial. When Leah isn’t shooting commercial assignments she’s most likely working on one of her privately commissioned nudes. Women in their 20’s to 40’s are undressing in front of her camera for steamy yet tasteful pictures, some of which we’ve featured here for your viewing pleasure…

Leah started photographing the (mostly naked) female form while completing her graduate thesis on erotic female stereotypes. Since then she’s gone on to develop an even broader portfolio and talent in this genre. Leah combines a strong conceptual art base with both her understanding of women and society’s effects on female identities, she blends her unique and bold style to create magic in her images.

“Maybe being a female photographer here is an advantage, but,  having a strong vision and knowing how to make your model feel confident and sexy is what really matters”, she says. “The bizarre and funny situations that come with this job are priceless, like shooting a tied-up and blindfolded model in the dungeon of the Castle (of Good Hope) while trying to avoid the Korean tourist groups or having your model pour copious amounts of honey all over herself. For most, its not everyday you whip your kit off for saucy images.”

Leah’s abilities with nudes has us holding our breath. Find more of her work or contact her for commissions at

Above is a self portrait I shot in studio especially for this article.

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Playmate Pictorial: “Miss July”
for Playboy Magazine, South Africa

I photographed Leonie Valentine for Playboy South Africa’s May 2013 edition.

The shoot came together in studio where it had been moved a bit last minute. The theme was ‘lingerie catalogue-ish”. It wasn’t one of my favourite shoots for the magazine but Leonie is so beautiful it made it hard to go to wrong.

Ive included a bunch of behind the scenes shots because I’m a fan of seeing the background to a shoot.

You can see from the shot above that I used some vintage film lighting gear for some of the shoot. It yields a beautiful warm light with great shadows.

The small and fun team on the shoot was Mickey who assisted me, Sebastine Pepler who did hair and make up and our model Leonie.

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