Ashley is an overcomer who isn’t afraid to face her challenges, organize them and tackle each one until she is victorious. We shot in an abandoned rock quarry in January — just the place for sunny, snowy, fur-lined fun photos. And she rocked it.
Briahna and I explored the Boise River to get these epic body paint shots. Here’s her thoughts, post-shoot: “Thank you. It was super fun. Took Forever to wash the paint out of my hair but it was worth it!”
There’s a classic junk yard with vehicles ranging from the 20s to the 70s and I’ve wanted to shoot there for years! Finally got my opportunity with a couple of great ladies. This is Riley. She’s a dancer, an artist and she loves caring for animals. I love how she jumped into this shoot with such enthusiasm.
Sometimes a model’s friend will decide to tag along on a shoot. This was one of those occasions and, as often happens, both girls end up in front of the camera. Ellie and Megan and I had such fun on this shoot. It’s just great to experience nudity in nature, just as God intended.
Here’s an interview I did for an art magazine recently.
Tell us about your brand.
I photograph Strength in Vulnerability. I believe in truly shameless body-positive photography — that the human body was made by our Creator to be seen and appreciated. I began shooting artistic nudes in 2006. I love to bring out the soul and strength of my models. I call my company Genesis to point us back toward the original innocence and strength of our naturally nude first mother, Eve and a return to our natural humanity.
When did you know that this was the right path for you?
I remember even from childhood how something seemed “off” in a society that seemed to treat women as trophies or possessions, rather than fully articulated humans. I knew one day I wanted to do something to show that women could stand on their own two naked feet and point their chins high without fear of shame or reprisal.
What do you like most about what you do?
Many times I work with first timers who have never modeled nude before. There are so many potential insecurities and societal/family baggage issues that can be a challenge. I find it amazing that I’ve gotten to see so many transformations! I have seen those insecurities and shy feelings melt away and a truly powerful fully-alive woman appear before my lens in the course of one of our shoots. It’s hard to put into words — it’s like a tremendous feeling in the air. I’ve seen former models go on to accomplish bold objectives in lots of areas of life. Some continue on in modeling or acting, others cherish their photos more privately and make a positive, quiet difference in their communities. Every heart that is changed makes a difference.
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
As a photographer who only shoots nudes, I have had so many people who have wanted to shoot with me but are afraid of what others will think if they follow through. As a male photographer shooting mostly female models, I deal with lots of inappropriate comments, slurs and sexual innuendos. People have been so conditioned to associate nudity with sex, it’s like some Pavlovian bell that when someone is naked, they must immediately have sex! It gets to be pretty ridiculous in my Instagram DMs. I’ve had unsolicited penis pics sent to me from around the world from guys who think that a random penis is a proper way to say hello. And yes, I’ve had women send me sexual nudes, too. Is this what people do now?
The way I overcome this is by trying to educate people that the body is good and that sex is something we choose to do with our bodies, but it is not the only thing we do when naked. It’s actually been very interesting to me to have this type of conversation with people from all over the world and to see them consider an alternative to what they were previously taught.
If your phone could ring right now with your dream opportunity, what would that be?
My dream opportunity would be to do 25 photoshoots on each continent — to bring Strength in Vulnerability all over the globe!
What do you want people to remember most about you and your career?
I want people to remember me as someone who helped change their perspective a little and who brought a little extra beauty into the world.
This is a shoot I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but it takes the right kind of adventurer to pull it off!
Busy library? Check. Potential to get busted? Check. Ready to do it? Check! KC and I hit the library stacks to get these classic and beautiful juxtapositions of the human form contrasted with tomes of literature and science. Enjoy!
Nicole agreed to hit up the Camas Prairie Nature Preserve with me to see if we could find some of their famous purple flowers for our backdrop. What we found is that we were too late for flowers, but it was windy and we took advantage of the plentiful swaying grasses for our bodypaint shoot.
My soul lies right between the earth and my body. Or maybe it is a mixture of the two. I was always intrigued by the human body, and was always interested in the strange argument behind why humans shame other humans for letting our bodies be free.
I’ve always believed that our most natural form is the most important form for us to embrace. To completely love ourselves, we have to start from the purity of the soul, and pay close attention to the shell that it lives in, which is our bodies.
When I was given the opportunity to do a nude photoshoot, I wouldn’t say it’s something that had crossed my mind before. But I also saw it as an opportunity for me as a human to practice the way of life we were originally created in, as humans.
It will always be nerve wrecking, to do the things that society now shames us for… to do the things the world makes us think is wrong.
But never in my life, did I ever feel so alive, so raw, so natural.
Standing there, in my pure, natural form, I found my body & soul connecting more and more to the earth around me.
Slowly, I felt it all become ONE. I found myself sinking into the earth, as if it’s all my body had ever known. I was stripped of all the restrictions that society had me drowning in.
I felt free, and that’s what it’s about. It’s about finding freedom — showing the world that our bodies are the most unharmful things. Though our minds can be corrupted, but our bodies are merely just a build up of bones, skin, fat. They are natural, they are real, & instead of being shamed and sexualized, they should be glorified for the beauty they are, and the beauty of being human.
We humans need to take back the one thing we have to take pride in, and it’s what we were born with, and given as a gift. These shells our souls walk in, are not to be shamed, we need to accept them with open, bare arms. We need to accept them, love them, and set them free.
It is a different view than what the world is used to today, but it’s the most beautiful view, from the inside and out.
Here’s what Meagan had to say about her shoot as a first-timer: “Participating in a nude shoot is one of the most freeing, yet terrifying experiences… but only because it’s doing something you’ve NEVER done. Being comfortable in front of a camera with clothes can be challenging, so a nude shoot really opens your mind to many possibilities. The human body is beautiful and is only sexualized because we body shame and hide ourselves away, constantly. I am grateful for clothes during the right circumstances, (like weather conditions or formal gatherings) however, I strongly believe hiding ourselves so much and all the time, has in truth also enabled us to hide away… not only our unique bodies, but also our minds. Allow Beauty TO BE SEEN. EVERYONE IS UNIQUE!”
Crystal asked if she could bring a wedding dress and work through some grief at this shoot and allowed me to help her process and capture the beauty of those moments and prove that Love is brighter than the pain. Thank you for sharing your heart with us Crystal.
With the bold and beautiful Kaitlin. Here’s what she said about this shoot:
A few words on the experience… I’ve always been told that my body should be kept sacred. I’ve also been told that my body should look a certain way, that I will only be liked if my body fits a specific set of standards. I’ve spent my whole life trying to fit those standards and the ironic thing is that when I did, no one would have ever known that because I hid my body. I hid my body because I was taught it wasn’t ok to be shown and that if it was, I was creating a negative image for myself and was being “provocative.” Through this experience, I was surprisingly able to let that all go and it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. My body is a vessel for which my soul resides. It is nothing to be shameful about. It’s ironic because when my body fit society’s standards, I hid it. But now that my body has changed into something that can’t fit into a size 00, I was able to show it off more. That right there is amazing to me. Once you take away the judgments from society about a body being a sexual object and let yourself be free in your body, you feel free in your mind.
Along the banks of the Boise River, enjoying the peace and solitude with Katie…
My shoot was amazing. I was definitely nervous because I had never done that kind of concept before. I felt anxious driving out to our location, and when I pulled up at the park, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
Luckily, you arrived right then and I was reassured to see a normal, nice guy get out of the car. We introduced ourselves and made some small talk and I could feel myself relaxing a little bit. Like from an 70% stress level to a 50%. We talked through some outfit choices and posing ideas and I steadily felt more confident.
The location was so beautiful! The park was just like a forest with a gorgeous river and lots of plants and stuff. I felt like some kind of Pocahontas or something and it was really fun. But there was definitely some part of me that was holding back. My whole life as a woman I have been trained to behave “modestly.” To hide my body for fear of offending someone else.
It was insanely hard to fight this internal battle throughout the shoot. I know this inner struggle made me more difficult to shoot.
But you were great the whole time. Reassuring me, helping with my posing, and most of all having the patience to help me embrace my most natural self.
Your final product is stunning, I can honestly say this is my favorite shoot! ❤😊