An important part of my 2018 was seeing the increased visibility of the body positivity movement. An important campaign to reflect on this at the end of the year, as people start to look towards their 2019 resolutions – which almost always includes a weight loss reference. Which ties into one of my highlights of the year, which was my shoot with Victress a few months ago.
Victress are a team of best friends, consisting of photographer, Adele and makeup artist, Marijke. Both are exceptional talented in their craft, and together the women created Victress in order to celebrate women and their victories through artful portraiture
“Marijke and I saw a gap for tasteful and uplifting photography of women,” Adele says, when asked about how the team began. “We feel like it’s easier, as a woman, to be in your underwear in front of other women – you’re putting yourself in a very vulnerable position that isn’t as easy to do in front of a strange man. With us being both women and best friends working as a team, it creates a relaxed environment for people we photograph.”
And I can attest to this. On the day of the shoot, I showed up and was immediately relaxed being in Adele and Marijke’s company – the two have such great chemistry that you can’t help but feel comfortable in their presence – an essential attribute in light of the daunting task of having to take your clothes off in front of a camera.
When you think of boudoir shoots, your mind instantly goes to the stereotypical 90’s style, upside down on a bed, impersonal sort of look. This is definitely not the case here. Victress differentiates themselves from more “traditional” boudoir shoots in that they put a modern, light, lifestyle spin in it. “We don’t like to do “uptight” shoots, or for the environment to be strange and uptight, which is often the case. The poses we focus on are ones that feel liberating – we’d never put someone in something that would make them feel uncomfortable.” Adele continues.
My entire experience with the duo was filled with chatter and laughter, from the moment Marijke started working on my makeup (which looked absolutely incredible – you can see clearly from the photos at how skilled she is) to Adele directing me into poses and positions that felt most comfortable to me (at one point she runs to me eagerly to show me one of the shots, saying “I made art”!).
Throughout the experience, I never once felt self-conscious, or judged in any way. As Marijke says: “it’s so easy for women to feel insecure in our bodies when you look at both social and print media, but there’s an ever-growing movement where women are being encouraged to feel comfortable in their own skin, and to love themselves. It can be very difficult to do if you have this idea of how you look compared to how you think you should, so it’s also a way to show that you can be beautiful and seductive and powerful the way you are now, and that you don’t need to change because you are enough. It’s about giving women a safe space to take back their bodies and own it.”
Adele agrees: “Being a woman makes us beautiful, regardless of body shape.”
And it’s this sentiment that I will be taking with me into 2019. I am amazing as I am, and have the photos to prove it. I am over the moon at how they turned out, and am so grateful to Victress for making this experience as pleasant and amazing as it could be.
You can see more of their work, and get in contact with them, on Instagram: @victress_za