“It’s all about the feeling: Authentic, thoughtful and cinematic imagery.
That’s how I see the world.” – Kevin Steele, Photographer
It’s funny how often I stressed over the thought of taking my clothes off.
When it came down to the moment – the moment to actually strip and drop my robe – to be utterly stark naked in front of a mostly male crew, including two men I barely knew, it felt completely natural.
“60 Days to 60!” sponsored by StriVectin was meant to show women that with commitment and discipline, a woman can be the best she can be and feel fabulous … at any damn age you please! One moment, my business partner and I were kicking around an idea and the next; we found ourselves putting in place all the pieces of the puzzle, as things came together far easier than we ever imagined.
I suppose that it’s one thing I’ve learned on this beautiful spiritual path I’ve been on for decades, when you’re aligned or in the flow, things tend to happen much faster than you could dream. Another way to look at it is, when the Universe is on your side, you have the power to make magic happen.
I hope that you find these shots from the shoot inspiring. While I fully embraced the personal challenge involved to conquer my fears, this project was meant to create a path for women of all ages to feel their best and to inspire them to celebrate their power and inner beauty. I’m afraid the full nudes, the bare naked shots, will remain behind the scenes for now. This series of remarkable shots was captured by the lens of the legendary photographer, Kevin Steele, in Austin, Texas just before my 60th birthday.
I’ve only done one shoot since I began my social media and blogging platforms six years ago, with someone other than my own photographer, Michael Castagna, who also happens to be my best friend and business partner. We have developed our own easy, natural rapport through shooting together over the past several years. I suppose that’s what led to some nerves about the shoot. It’s one thing to be photographed by a photog with Kevin’s credentials. It’s another thing to be captured on camera in your birthday suit, sans clothing, sans hiding. I realized after the fact that I was more nervous than I realized. That was why the experience was so surprising. My nerves were only in my mind. They had nothing to do with the actual experience.
The very first day on set was in a lovely sunlit loft studio in Austin, St. John Studios, owned by a friend of Kevin’s. The very first shot on the first day involved letting go of a flimsy piece of see through chiffon fabric to expose my fully naked body on camera. Fortunately, the energetic dynamics were perfect. Between Kevin being fully in command while also relaxed yet uber professional, Jess not only doing my makeup in the most gorgeous fashion but also acting in the role of dear friend and mama hen, along with my photog, Michael taking BTS shots, and a newly hired assistant and Fitness Photog, Juan Valdes, we somehow put together a dream team scenario with an easy, dreamy energy between us. Again, I’m pretty sure the Gods were smiling down on us while the Universe held me tightly, we set off on a day to magically create a huge variety of images that evoke just about every emotion.
What was it like for me to be on the other end of the lens? Also, to be the center of attention with an entire team there to support my dream? It was amazing. Oh, and humbling. And, dreamy … magical.
Before we met in Austin, Kevin, Mike and I had several different calls to go over details and to begin creating a vision along with mood boards. I’d spent a lot of time culling over images online and putting together a vision board of sorts via Pinterest. Most of the images I had chosen had some clothing. Almost everything was either topless from behind or I was artfully posed to be either backlit or contorted in some way so that you couldn’t see much in the way of nudity. Let’s just say that Kevin’s vision was vastly different. I’ll admit that at first I was surprised that we were “going for it” right off the bat. I had visions of building up to being captured fully naked. I was also surprised at how easy it was for me to let go of that little bit of flowy chiffon meant to cover as I began dancing around completely butt naked – literally and metaphorically – while Kevin began clicking away.
As the day went on, Jess deBen Polish, who is a master at makeup, particularly as women pass the 40 mark, continually shifted my looks. Jess narrates the whole process in the video below! We began pretty girl next door, au naturel, and over the day built up to 60’s Twiggy looks with heavy duty lashes, liner and even white liner on my eyes! Remember, white eyeliner! Holy cow, I had completely forgotten! It’s amazing how makeup can help you get into “character.” My full on Twiggy look allowed me to access the 60’s vibe ala Woodstock – meaning hello sexy, sultry and sensual. Before I knew it, I was hopping up onto window sills, hanging from teeny pieces of carpentry, while projecting sexy, sultry looks through the camera.
I’ve never ever seen myself as sexy in any way at all. As I’ve shared in my recent Moxie posts, I was far more Catholic school girl than Playboy bunny. Oh, it was such fun to tap into my alter ego – or, more truthfully, a sensual part of me I was only just beginning to get to know. I learned so much through interviewing Christie Hefner ages ago. Much like the Playboy bunnies of the day, these women weren’t doing it for the men. They were doing it for themselves. Posing nude, sexually or sensually, wasn’t about anyone but themselves. Many times, I forgot about the camera and just had a ball. I do believe Kevin was surprised that I’m as much of a goofball as I am. I suppose that’s the forever kid at heart part of me. It’s also the ageless part of me. My Starlet daughter Maddie calls me “Benjamin Button.” If there’s a secret to looking youthful, it’s being youthful. What I’ve learned over the years is that the camera captures your energy. As my modeling coach Jacqueline Depaul, the one and only Yellow Brick Runway, helped me see: “Exude youthfulness, and you’ll see youthfulness. Exude joy, and you’ll see joy. Exude sensuality, and you’ll see sensuality.”
There’s lots more to come in the 60 Days celebration – more images, more stories, more beauty and lots more to inspire you to join me in creating your own 60 Days journey to look and feel your best in an accelerated program that lifts and connects your mind, body and spirit. And, if you decide to do a nude photo shoot, I highly recommend assembling a dream team as I did to make your dreams come true!
I could not have done this without my team! Special thanks to photographer Kevin Steele, makeup artist Jessica deBen Polish, modeling coach and Sister Jacqueline Depaul, and especially to my kick ass trainer Kacy Duke for understanding a woman’s body at 60 and whipping me into shape, and to StriVectin for sponsoring this journey by being my skin’s bodyguard and helping me with the confidence to … be comfortable in nothing but my own skin!