What do a nun, school girl and a nurse have in common? Nothing at all. However, add some cleavage, high-heels, a pair of bedroom eyes and you have an ‘offbeat’ sexy photoshoot...
The day started off like any other Sunday – waking up around 12pm with brunch in bed. Seeing as you should be religious on a Sunday I am happy to report that every Sunday I religiously go down to our local outdoor venue and watch my friends’ band play. I am nothing but a devout groupie. Little did I know this would be the start of my very inexperienced modelling career.
The setting was as beautiful as ever, the green lush mountains of South Africa in the background, the acoustic stylings of Jesse Jordan and naturally a cocktail or five keeping me company. Just as I was transcending into the world of music, lyrics and intoxication I was rudely interrupted by a bloke standing in front of me with a massive lens in his hand – this is in no way a sexual innuendo of any sort. He introduced himself as the local photographer and went on to say how much he liked my look and admired the tattoo on my arm. He then asked whether I’d be interested in doing a photoshoot that was centred around my tattoo. I was honoured and terrified at the same time. Honoured because he saw me as being photo-worthy and terrified because I didn’t think I was. My first thought was, ‘If I do this I’m not going to eat for a week, I’m quitting my day job and spending every waking moment in the gym’. However, knowing the love I have for food and sleep that option wasn’t possible, so I left with his business card in my hand and the prospect of entering uncharted territory.
After a sleepless night mulling the idea over in my head, I decided to ‘man up’, ‘get a grip’ and adopt the motto ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’. So I called him up and we arranged a time, place and discussed the three outfit ideas which were, of course, a nun, a school girl and a nurse. The whole idea was to do a spin off on these ‘stereotypical’ roles. A nun with suspender stockings, a bottle of Tequila and a tattoo on her arm is about as far from conventional as it gets, although I’m sure there would be more people attending church if nuns were really like this. That night I went onto the photographer’s website – just to make sure I wasn’t signing myself over to some sick sadistic porn site – but to my relief, I found no trace of sadism, porn or a nun fetish. What I really liked about his photography is that he’s innovative, artistic and creative. His photographs are unconventional, some slightly sinister and as he put it ‘if my photography shocks people or makes them think, I’m doing something right’.
D-Day: Having never done anything like this before, I decided to put my insecurities, pride and nervousness in my pocket and unleash the vivacious, energetic and spontaneous side. Because what girl doesn’t secretly want to be a model for a day? I decided to take the opportunity I had been given and make the most of it.
I was greeted with a glass of champagne by the photographer, assistant photographer and stylist. Already I was feeling slightly more relaxed knowing a glass (or the bottle) may take the edge off my nervousness. No time was wasted as I was already being prepped for the ‘school girl’ shot where I’d be wearing a tartan mini skirt, white shirt and of course 6 inch stiletto heels. I was more worried that I may plummet to my death from the height of the heels, than worrying how I’d ‘make love to the camera’. Being highly inexperienced in front of the camera, I had no idea what expression to use, where to put my hands, who to look at or how to deploy my ‘sexy’ face. My fears were quickly diminished as the photographer knew exactly the shots he wanted and how he wanted them. After a couple of shots he asked whether I had done this before because he felt I was a ‘natural’, of course this boosted my self-esteem and from then on I became more and more comfortable not only in front of the camera, but in my own skin as well.
The nun shot in some people’s eyes may push their moral boundaries and of course I respect those views, but the photographer does this on purpose to get people to question their own thoughts and ideas of what truly offends them or if they’re just offended because it’s something that has been created by society. Sometimes in order to question our own feelings on a subject being pushed out of our comfort zone and being able to see something from a different perspective can bring new insight. I’ve never been one who likes rules or abides by all of them. Tell me I’m not allowed to do something and the more I want to do it. So this particular shot of the nun in a short dress, with a tattoo – which obviously breaks the religious rules – was one I enjoyed doing for those rebellious reasons.
Apparently men – and some girls too – have the fantasy of waking up from a traumatic experience and leaning over them is a ‘sexy’ nurse to tend to their every need. Well, needless to say this was the aim of this particular ‘nurse’ shot. Although I would have no problem dressing up for my significant other like this, doing this for other people to judge was slightly more daunting. Knowing that I’d have to live up to that fantasy released the ‘I’m not thin enough or sexy enough’ mind talk. After having a quick word with my inner demons and connecting to that confident person I know that I am, I unleashed the sexy and for those moments I lived in the fantasy of being someone else’s fantasy.
Often we as women are our worst critics. It’s as if we have to beat society to the punch and say what we don’t like about ourselves before they do. Although I’m not the stereotypical ‘model’ type, I put those insecurities away and exposed the confident and secure side of me. This photoshoot was done in such a way that those parts you love about yourself are captured and reflected back to you. Everyone on set made me feel so comfortable, important and beautiful.
It was a liberating experience that I think everyone – men and women – should undertake given the opportunity. Even if you have doubts about yourself or what society deems as beautiful, going in there with self-confidence and being secure with who you are is what really shines through in the photographs.
Emma Stone said this, “Confidence is the only key. I know a lot of people who aren’t traditionally beautiful – not symmetrical or perfect-bodied or perfect-skinned. But none of that matters because all that shines through is their confidence, humour and comfort with themselves. I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.”