Surprise yourself

Surprise yourself

Nobody thought I would do it. Least of all me.

I’ve never been one to give into peer pressure, apart from that one time my family bullied me into hand-feeding a crane that almost resulted in a trip to A&E… but I’ve never smoked, never taken drugs, and never drank until I passed out. I’m prone to clumsiness, dancing gloriously and laughing until I can’t breathe, without any extra persuasion thank you very much. But these days ‘come out and stop being so old’ is a text I receive more than any other. So imagine how hard it is for a stranger to talk me into something…

A couple of weeks ago I met Claire, a photographer and member of a local photography club in the Midlands. She has been planning a charity shoot for Macmillan at Withamside House and asked if I’d model a few ideas for her. She showed me a Pinterest board that inspired her, some of which were boudoir shots, and my initial reaction was ‘where the Hell can I hide?!’ and those of you who know me will understand how red I turned at the thought. But the shots on the Pinterest board were truly stunning and I soon saw how well Claire captured the style. Before I knew it, I was hunting through my underwear drawer.

Her wonderful combination of talent and friendliness made us instant friends and the shoot became so much fun. I surprised myself at how much confidence I had in front of her, especially when at one point I was just wearing pants and a veil!

This was so new to me, nobody has ever seen me naked upon first meeting, except for medical staff. And they don’t usually have cameras in their hands during those moments. Should never have gone to that walk-in centre alone…

Claire told me she would be returning the following week with her photo group, which happened to be yesterday, and asked if I’d come back to model for her. I jumped at the chance. This wonderful lady had given me a new wave of confidence that I never knew I had! Plus the whole thing was again for charity… it would be rude to turn it down.

In between these shoots, I asked Rick Nunn to help prepare me for the next one, which you can find here. Hello boys.

Yesterday’s shoot went just as smoothly as the first, except there were now 16 photographers roaming around Withamside House at the same time. I stayed close to Claire but a few others got some shots of me in my delicates and we were sharing a room with another portrait photographer. Eeeeck, scarier and scarier.

Claire kept making jokes about getting me in the river before the day was over (the River Witham runs through the garden by the way) and I kept laughing it off saying ‘yeah, good luck with that, I’ve seen what floats past inside it…’

The day passed quickly and the photographers were starting to run out of memory card space, but we had time for one more outfit change. I removed a white dress from the wardrobe and Claire said ‘wow, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could trash the dress, like at a wedding?’. I loved that idea, getting muddy or throwing paint around for a final fun shot. Our eyes wandered to the river outside and I went to ask the owner of the house (also my mother) if that would be OK. We soon discovered that she actually had a cheap wedding dress that she found on eBay for another photoshoot, one she no longer needed.

We had all the ingredients. I just needed to grow some lady balls and get into a 3 foot deep river in front of 16 people I had only just met. No biggy.

It wasn’t going to be pretty. I considered hiding under the bed again instead but then I remembered my initial panic when I first met Claire and how glad I was that I overcame my fear. I climbed into the dress and some giant wellies, and headed down to the river… the results are below.

Thanks so much to Rick Nunn for these shots…(and for climbing in with me!) and to Claire for the amazing confidence!

I wish I could do it again right now.