Between August and October 2020 I have been following a project dear to my heart : I have been photographing portraits of an eclectic selection of women based in the Byron shire. 19 women in total! I have met some incredible women and have enjoyed very much sharing a creative process with them.
It was a powerful experience aiming at giving them self confidence and self love through what I call “Photo therapy”! It is showing their real beauty. They only had to answer to my questionnaire here to be part of that empowering project.
They are all unique and very special! Enjoy reading a few lines about them and the viewing.
Celeste is the only woman I knew before I started this project. I had the chance to photograph her previously in Fiji for an underwater photoshoot. I knew that she was a gracefully woman and has an amazing presence in front of the camera. She has an incredible life story : from a ballerina’s family in Austria, she travelled her whole childhood and again as she grew up and worked in the theatre production. Her well travelled mind made of her a lady of the world, who can adapt and has grown strong. She has indeed travelled in more than 77 cities around the world through her work.
A little something special about Celeste… She is a Marie Poppins! She always has all sorts of surprises in her bag to everyone’s delight and pleasure.
Photographed at The Bower hotel, Byron Bay.
While reading Amy‘s lines I could tell that she was a very sweet loving person. She described a difficult pregnancy but had powerful willpower to stay optimistic and to keep up. This new baby is coming into her life. Our photo session was beautiful : Lennox beach gave us a stunning sunset and it was a perfect sunny winter day. I love how Amy brought many beautiful options for her clothes and accessories. They were all so good that we ended using them all!
Amy has now many adventures awaiting : first the birth and then a little boy in her life. I can’t wait to meet him and have no doubt he will inherit his mother’s big smile.
Photographed at Lennox Head.
Tara Lee is a chef and a cellist. A women of many talents! She followed the path of yoga, travelled in India and then went to Australia where she met an Australian boy. He followed her to her home, Ireland, where they lived for three years and decided to come back to settle in a beautiful part of the world, Byron Bay.
When I read Heather first answers she mentioned that she didn’t bother much with pampering ordinarily; hair, make up, nails… I agree that beauty is natural. And she had recently allowed her hair to be grey, which is an important change in a woman’s life and can provoke a lack of confidence.. She also wasn’t quite happy with her weight but was working on it.
I thought that a photography session could definitely help with that, make her feel beautiful, as she is and empower her.
Heather has raised three children, lived in Berlin for ten years, managed a theatre and now manages a local venue… These, to me, are reasons to be proud and to stand out. I am delighted I got the chance to meet her.
Photographed at Mullumbimby.
Photographed at Belongil beach Byron Bay.
Ria is a very sensitive and thoughtful woman. She is moved by her surroundings. Her kindness has no limits. You won’t be surprised to learn that she does community work, always giving. She gets a tear easy and it is contagious. Every time we met there has been a point when we both had a little moment!
She has a beautiful Greyhound, Charlie. He follows her everywhere and is a very loving dog. Together they make a very bubbly team!
Yolanda is originally Mexican so like me she has an expatriate background, which made me feel connected in a way. Her world is filled with music : she plays in a band with nine Brazilian women, and does a musical radio show every Sunday…
She raised her son who recently left home but she didn’t stay inactive since! Yolanda is a very dynamic woman and at the same time she is very gentle and has a kind heart.
Our photography session flowed really well. We walked down to King’s beach (Broken Head), where we had a stunning set just for us and created magic together!
Where should I start…? I hadn’t even really met Belinda I knew she was an exceptional human! She was recommended as a “superstar hair dresser” from a friend.
We met and connected straight away. B (this is her surname for her friends) had a huge turning point in her life as she is about to celebrate her 40th. Recently she lost her dad and it has been a very painful season. She moved from Melbourne to the Byron shire 10 years ago where she is starting a new life.
She recently started studying social working and surely has a very promising career ahead of her.
Her portrait photography session seems document her slow metamorphosis. She went with a very natural look. That is what beauty is now for her.
Coming from high end fashion, where we always see gorgeous models, she sometimes lost some self confidence. But today is a new day. To many amazing future adventures to B Linda!
When I met Fabi I loved the way she described herself as a crafty and creative woman. The way she approached her photoshoot was imaginative. She wanted to keep it a little bit formal with also the idea of being a “queen”.
Fabi can sew, crochet, she makes mobiles, she collects whatever is beautiful and could serve as a work of art. The way she looks at life is the same : she wants to help others through her gifts, with her hands and her presence. She is indeed a calming and happy woman, who has learned how to flourish throughout her life, and I’m feeling very lucky that our paths crossed.
Before I met Pixie I already liked her : how great to be called “Pixie”! When we met she straight away made a strong impression. She is very stylish, wearing short hair and embroided clothes. She is an artist and it feels like it when you are with her. We did our mini session in her place and I got to see her work studio, which is a real Aladdin’s cave! A colorful and vibrant world.
She is a strong woman, who 12 years ago made the choice to live a clean life, away from alcohol. She has a beautiful routine, where she walks at the beach, swims, practices mediation and writing every morning before she starts her woking day.
Every time we met she felt like a very calming energy. I like that she “is true to her world” as she put it.
She said that she felt nervous during the photoshoot and she wrote in her answers to my questionnaire that she was going to need courage to do it, but she was actually fantastic. The session flew and went very smoothly.
I met Katie at a friend’s gathering and without a doubt she stood out in the crowd. Not only was it was obvious that she had a great sense of humour, she was also thoughtful and kind. When I told her about my project I was so delighted to hear that she would love to be part of it.
Since, I have discovered that she is a talented copy writer and an incredible singer with a voice that makes you feel fuzzy and warm!
Katie replied carefully to my questionnaire. She likes to take things slowly and is a measured person who thinks, listens and analyses. Such great qualities!
Unfortunately she has struggled with personal insecurities in the past. But she is a fighter and since her 30th she has started to feel more comfortable and less concerned.
I like to believe that our shared photo session was a great experience for both of us. She went beyond her comfort zone and shone in front of my lens, after a natural make up session by the talented Cintamani. Throughout the photo session her self confidence grew, and by the end she was getting really at ease.
I enjoyed so much creating and composing with a delicate but strong woman and feeling the magic of our girl power combined.
It took Wendy a lot of courage as she has always been camera shy.
She always ran away from the cameras when someone would take a photograph.
But her friend Belinda had her photo session with me and Wendy decided to get her own done as well.
I have known Wendy for a while and she always struck me as a very strong and extremely dynamic and energetic woman.
One who never stops, always goes goes goes! I find that this is a really beautiful quality. She is a natural giver, likes to help out and connect people together.
Families are everything to her, the family she grew up with and the family she has made through her community, her friends.
I’m so glad we did this photo session together. It was fun, light and we both had a huge smile for the rest of the day!
Renee is very interesting in so many different ways. She is a singer and feels beautiful when she sings, when she performs. She is also a visual artist, a painter. She is a people’s person, a women’s counsellor. She likes to connect, support and coach.
She has been developing a fascinating therapy working with women of all ages, sizes and shapes in their wardrobes.
She works in depth one on one with her treasured clients transforming limiting patterns and unrealised potentials to curate and create a unique and beautiful wardrobe of clothing and accessories that reflects each woman’s personal style essences and values.
She believes a woman’s wardrobe is an extraordinary portal into her true feminine power and has the potential to support deep shifts in consciousness along with an elevated, lived daily experience of authentic self esteem, self love and the courage to create the personal, professional and relationship dreams of her heart.
Renee herself is very stylish and has a beloved collection of clothes and loves getting dressed each morning ! She supports sustainable fashion by buying preloved, vintage and from ethical independent designers only.
Renee shared that it took her a long time to accept the image of herself aging. And she did the photo session with total acceptance of herself as she is now. It was wonderful to see that she loves the result, including the shots showing the mature gorgeous woman she has become.
Elke has travelled the world with her feet, her van and her soul!
She really has been around, and eventually stopped in the Byron Shire. She has recently trained to make costumes. It was fabulous to see her dressed in one of them for our portrait session. She wore the costume of the Norse goddess Frya, wife of Odin, the God of Gods.
The choice relates to love and freedom, which made it a very powerful photoshoot.
When I met Carla I loved her stunning tattoos and could visualise a fantastic photo session with her. So I offered her to be part of the project. We dived quickly into a personal intimate conversation, and I was fascinated to see how strong she was, while going through a big life change. After 11 years her partner and her were separating. In her answers to my questionnaire she wrote “ I feel beautiful as a mother- proud like a lioness of my gorgeous kids. I feel beautiful when I’m in my vulnerability- open and sensitive.”
Carla has a happy and optimistic nature, a gift which is allowing her to go forward. She has a busy life with her two children, work, and trying to balance some personal time as well. She is successful at it all, even if at times it isn’t always easy!
She is also a nature lover, which is why the Suffolk tea tree lake (a venue used for birthing rituals by the ancients) fitted her character perfectly, making magic happen.
Renae wrote brief answers to my questionnaire, which left me curious. When asking “What’s your life story?” she answered “It’s too long!” At the end she mentioned that she wanted a mysterious photo of herself. When we first met she shared that she was at a turning point in her life. By the time we organised the photo session, and met again for the post shoot meeting, time had helped to heal, which was wonderful to see.
She is a performance artist including cultural dancing, stilt walking and fire dancing. She also practices dance to get better and evolve. What a wonderful way! When she posed in front of my camera her gorgeous smile and her body awareness (probably learned from years of dancing) made it easy for me!
Renae has two pre teen daughters who are the loves of her life, and I’m sure that they are absolute best friends!
When I first met Sharon she shared how she was having a hard time lately. She also shared that she had put on a bit of weight and didn’t feel good about it. First I think that Sharon looks absolutely beautiful with her delightful curves. Secondly, I answered and believe that us; humans, aren’t linear creatures. We have ups and downs and it’s ok to feel low and to change. There is always an end to the tunnel. Sometimes we just need to accept the ride and time will do the rest !
Between the day we met and our post photoshoot meeting, her situation had changed and slowly improved.
Sharon and I shared and amazing photo session. We went to the Pass and both of us climbed together for the first time to the lookout. That special and iconic place in Byron Bay was perfect for Sharon, as she has lived there for 10 years.
Sharon works as a mental health nurse and I would like to share my admiration for Sharon’s profession. I deeply respect workers in the health industry : always giving, taking risks, caring… and even more so in times of a pandemic. So a huge thank you to Sharon for being you, for being here for others, that is real beauty.
Abbey was the youngest woman from my project. She radiated joy and confidence, which made our photo session at Wategos light and fun!
She is living with her first love, Flynn and their irresistible puppy Lunas. She is a nanny for four children, which is a handful but seems to come naturally to her; she loves children.
One if her notable projects was a trip to Cambodia to help rebuild a school in Phnom Penh. She has learned about the children disabilities and immersed herself into their daily life. She is now very aware about what life is for a disabled child in Cambodia. She is young and surely has a huge heart. All along her answers to my questionnaire; “love” was very much forward. She has build her life on trust and love.
Abbey is wholesome, pure and full of emotion.. If your paths crossed and you were kind, the favour would be returned a thousand-fold.
Thank you Yolanda. It was great to get creative with you.
I just read through each and every one of these stories and photographs. The captures are of course stunning but the vulnerability of these women to share a bit of themselves is equally beautiful. This is a stunning project Anais!!! I can’t wait for more!
Thank you for your heart warming words Shilpa!
You are the magician Anais. I just can’t stop looking at the photos. It’s been great meeting you and being part of your beautiful project. It was a very special experience. Thank you!