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Female Empowerment Photoshoot For Gold Coast Water Baby

A day of self-love and creativity in the underwater studio

This underwater photoshoot was to celebrate a new beginning after many life challenges. My fearless client Kate had escaped a toxic relationship, moved on from an unhealthy work environment, and recovered from a debilitating spinal cord injury… all of which had taken a toll on her physical and emotional well-being. She travelled up from the Gold Coast for a self-love photoshoot day at my Noosa underwater studio.

Ultimately, this was an empowerment photoshoot where Kate could fall in love with herself again. And don’t we all need a generous dose of self-love and self-care at some point in our lives? It’s the ultimate gift to give ourselves.

Being a water baby at heart, Kate was in the ocean and her local swimming pool ahead of the photoshoot, practicing keeping her face relaxed while holding her breath—one of the keys to achieving beautiful underwater portraits. Practising ahead of time is by no means required for your underwater photoshoot, but it certainly helps you get off to a flying start once you get in the water on shoot day.

Kate’s underwater photoshoot memories are now embodied in her printed portraits, two of which hang on the walls of her home. They are daily reminders of what she has overcome and how beautiful she truly is.

—Liz


Here’s is Kate’s story in her own words:

“Before now I thought photoshoots where for people having babies, getting married or family photos. I thought people took portraits for work, for paid modelling and advertising. I didn’t think that being single was a reason to do it. I’m also not photogenic, I don’t take a lot of selfies or photos when I’m with friends. I’m usually the one volunteering to take photos of the group.

Then I started seeing some short videos and hearing people only 10-20 years older than me saying they wish they had taken photos of themselves when they were younger, they wish they had appreciated how hot they were when they were younger. I recently noticed how much I had aged since I hit my 30s, I noticed a few things changing, getting older.

I thought photoshoots where for people having babies, getting married or family photos… I didn’t think that being single was a reason to do it.

At that time my life was also messy. It was near the messy end of a toxic relationship. I was in a toxic share-house and had a toxic work environment. I used to feel confident, I used to feel beautiful and strong and healthy. I used to take care of my body and spend time with friends and doing things I loved. I lost all of that. I used to be adventurous, but my comfort zone had shrunk. I was so stressed and exhausted that I ate badly, I stopped going to the gym, I stopped making time for my hobbies, I put on a lot of weight, and my self-esteem was the lowest it had been in years. I needed to make big changes to my life, to my mindset, and I needed motivation to get back to eating healthy, exercising and feeling fit and healthy again. I decided it was time to book a photoshoot—not for a celebration, not for family, but just for me, despite feeling ugly and afraid.

I always believed that some of the best life experiences come from outside your comfort zone. At the time there was nothing further from my comfort zone than a photoshoot. Yet the photoshoot was perfect to help me be accountable and it motivated to eat healthy and exercise again. It was perfect to help prioritise rebuilding my confidence and self worth. And it was perfect being underwater, a place where I feel comfortable and relaxed.

I always believed that some of the best life experiences come from outside your comfort zone.

In the lead up to the photoshoot I made a lot of changes. I moved house, I changed work, I finally got my own dog (a dream for years). It was a period of growth and development. Between the time I first emailed Liz and the photoshoot date my life dramatically change. I had taken accountability, grown and learned from mistakes. I had moved on from the past. I was fit, I felt physically and mentally healthy and strong. I felt confident, sexy and free. I felt I could be my true authentic self without fearing judgement. In the end the photoshoot was timed perfectly, it marked a time in my life when I felt accomplishment after adversity.

I am so in love with this one. Liz captured an expression that I feel is just very raw, very me, it made me tear up (in a good way).

I have always loved the ocean. I love just swimming under waves, the rock of a boat on the water, that feeling of being completely submerged in water. My love for the ocean amplified after a stressful life event: I had a spinal cord injury. My outlet had always been sports—I played AFL, did boxing, motocross, all the extreme sports I could afford. Then in 2015 I had a spinal cord injury from a tumour at the top of my neck. My life changed and although I am grateful I was able to learn to walk again, I lost all the sports I did as my outlet. This is when my love for the ocean grew. I started freediving, I learnt to hold me breath and relax. Underwater I don’t feel limited by my spinal cord injury; I feel relaxed, I feel present and at peace. It felt very fitting to do a underwater photoshoot.

At home on the Gold Coast

I felt very excited In the lead up to the photoshoot. Everything in my life was coming together. I had practiced underwater several times, I had been eating healthy and exercising regularly. Photoshoot date had been a huge motivator to help me get out of an unhealthy rut.

I loved everything about the photoshoot. Liz was so kind and warm, Renee (the assistant and makeup artist) had a fun happy vibe, the pool temperature was great, and the wardrobe selection was amazing. Liz and Renee helped me feel so relaxed. I loved it. It was a great experience. I’m really happy that I tried different outfits. I’m happy that I practiced looking relaxed underwater. I was pretty tired at the end of the day so the only thing I would do differently would be to stay in Noosa that night instead of driving in traffic all the way back to the Gold Coast.

The photos are beyond my expectation. They are amazing. It makes me smile every time I see them. My friends and family absolutely love them, too, they think it’s like art. The timing of the photos was also after getting through some really hard times that I had to be strong and resilient to make it through. Seeing these portraits in my home every day makes me feel strong, confident, sexy and free.

Seeing these portraits in my home every day makes me feel strong, confident, sexy and free.

I think this one is just beautiful. The flow of the fabrics, my body position, it’s beautiful art. It makes me smile.
10 years ago if someone said I would have a photo that big of me in my house wearing lingerie I would have laughed. This photo is me feeling sexy, feeling strong, feeling free. I am in sexy lingerie not for a man, not to look good for anyone, not to impress anyone or show off my body. I did this photo for me and I love that. I am taking back ownership of my body without caring about pressure or judgement from society to only be sexy for a man. This photo reminds me of the freedom of empowerment.
To any woman who is considering an underwater photoshoot, I’d say just do it! Plan for it, practice holding your breath underwater, enjoy the process. This is your photo! Not what your partner, friends or parents want, it’s what you want. Pick the colours, the mode, the outfit you want without fear of judgement from others.

—Kate


Find out more about the underwater photoshoot experience

 

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