“It’s important to remember that you’re born naked, and the rest is drag.” – RuPaul
The last time I was photographed naked, I was still in diapers. I thought I would happily go to my grave leaving it at that. Oh, was I wrong! I’ve learned a lot of things about myself through my 60 Days to 60 Challenge that capped off with a fully nude photo shoot in Austin, TX. I’ve also learned how women at any age, but especially women of a certain age & beyond, can look freaking amazing stark naked. I’m sharing the scoop and all the secrets right here right now in case you’re inclined to join me!
Rule Number One: If you are going to do something uncomfortable, surround yourself with a team that makes you feel comfortable! I’m very fortunate to have one of the most experienced and relaxed dream teams out there. Let me introduce you to the pro’s who had boots on the ground (cowboy boots, of course!) in Austin, Texas:
Kevin Steele, is an incredible photographer whose work has graced the pages of National Geographic as well as many of the alluring American Express travel ads you may have seen is the genius behind the images. Prior to his photography career, he was one of the top mountain and rock climbers on the planet.
I highly recommend adding a bit of yin to the yang which brings me to …
Jessica deBen Polish, a celebrity makeup artist, who is also our favorite FierceCon artiste joined us to share her gifts and to balance out the feminine energies on set. She came straight off the set of Euphoria before leaving for Georgia for the set of The Walking Dead. She was part makeup magician and part Sherpa, happily schlepping Cat’s s#it around while also graciously climbing slippery wet terrain on shoots.
It’s been about 6 years since I decided to stop being a big baby and hiding behind the camera and to begin to step in front of it. Over that time, I’ve learned a great deal about how to rock a photo shoot. Of course, up until now, those shoots all had one thing in common – lots of clothing as fashion is my thing. A photoshoot without any artifice is an entirely different story. When you’re ready to consider being photographed nude or even semi-nude, perhaps boudoir style, one of the most important things is selecting a photographer who makes you feel comfortable. Choosing a photographer who knows how to create an ambience that’s relaxed yet professional is key in laying the groundwork for drop dead images. Kevin has worked on every level of a professional shoot and way beyond anything I’ve experienced. He’s directed national commercials and been on set in exotic locations for months at a time working with experienced crews. The shoot in Austin was purely a personal passion project for him. It was his passion and enthusiasm for the project that made it so easy, breezy and fun.
When it comes to selecting a photographer, step one is visiting their website and social media platforms to get a feel for their work as well as the overall vibe of their images. I happened to have a call with Lesley Pedraza, a highly coveted model/photographer with a lot of experience in this arena. She was giving me some suggestions on how to be my most comfortable on set. The first thing she noticed was that Kevin’s images all conveyed an undeniable feeling that the models were completely relaxed. That definitely mirrored my experience and set the tone for the entire shoot. Kevin was cool as a cucumber, prompting the studio owners to share their awe at the overall “chill” and playful vibe on the set.
Lesley has taught Jacqueline DePaul almost everything she knows about modeling. Jacqueline is my high bar, my ultimate role model, to look to when it comes to rocking a photoshoot. One of the most important lessons when it comes to modeling is knowing that the camera will pick up your energy. If you want to look relaxed, you have to feel relaxed. If you want to exude sensuality or sexuality, feel it in every fiber of your being. Of course, mirror work is always helpful to play with certain looks before getting in front of the camera. When it comes to doing a nude photoshoot, Jacqueline’s instructions to me were to pretend that I was looking at the love of my life while also firing up those “lady parts” – you know squeezing that “coochie coo” (thank you to my trainer, Kacy Duke for that one!) You know you’re comfortable when you kind of forget about the camera and begin to just be fully present while also firing up your lady parts!
Any photoshoot is going to be that much more awesome with a professional makeup artist. Jess is no ordinary makeup artist. She’s a sought after Hollywood professional with a resume that reads like Who’s Who? Jess has an exceptional gift in bringing out the beauty in women over 40. She has a bag of tricks that includes the best makeup, skincare, beauty products, application techniques and devices to look as if you’ve turned back time on camera. She’s not only gifted, she’s also kind and caring and she just so happens to capture the best behind the scenes videos.
In case you missed her BTS YouTube video with every single product used on set, you can find it here. I know virtually nothing about makeup but I’ve learned so much through working with Jess. She’s a master. She’s also really patient. One of the most important things is how the makeup is applied. For this series of shoots, we started with a very natural, nude look and worked up to a lot of makeup. The secret is in layering the makeup. It’s also being willing to play around with different looks. You might be surprised at how different looks help you to get into different characters, therefore exuding a range of energies and looks for the camera. And a little side tidbit, Jess was a contestant on Survivor: Fiji but alas, was the first person voted off the Island as everyone realized “This gal is so nice and amazing, we need to get rid of her NOW!”
One of the other elements to prepare yourself for a nude or semi-nude shoot is being comfortable in your body. For me, that meant getting myself a kick ass personal trainer who would kick my tushy. Kacy Duke is known for helping women sculpt an age defying physique. At an ageless 66, she understands an older woman’s physiology like no other. She believes that “movement is a privilege.” She also believes that less is more. The best workouts are all about quality over quantity. Her philosophy is all about being the best you can be right now! Her ass kicking workouts are the reason I was so completely comfortable walking around butt naked. Any photoshoot will be better when you look and feel your best. This pandemic has been brutally hard on most of us. It’s taken a toll on our mind, our bodies and our spirit. A kick ass photoshoot requires some ass kicking. Trust me, you’ll be thankful when you see the images. My smushy tushy Covid butt definitely lifted and tightened up a ton via Kacy and her K Game. The best news is she is adding group workouts to her Age Defying Physique Program. Be sure to join her community here.
One of the last pieces to share, which is really one of the first pieces of the process, is to find the best products to whip your skin into shape. Covid caused most of us a lot of stress. Stress has a direct impact on our skin. It definitely did on mine. For me, I’ve had a lot of great luck with StriVectin products. I’ve been using them for years. This was the first time that I was using them from head to toe. Their Crepe Control Body System is absolute genius (full discloser, they did sponsor the 60 Days to 60 campaign) and really helped my skin to tighten up and glow.
Of course, you can’t forget about nutrition. I’m working on a book sharing my secrets and tips for looking and feeling ageless. The bottom line, if you’re planning a shoot sans clothing, clean up your diet. Let go of those things that you know make you feel crappy. For me, that meant letting go of a lot of things including sugar, gluten, most carbs, and only indulging in a few glasses of wine in the entire 60 days. It also meant drinking tons of water and taking lots of healthy supplements along the way. Oh, and adding lots of healthy fruits and veggies to the mix. I pulled out my juicer and kept it on the counter so it was ready to go first thing in the morning. The way we start our day is so important for the way our day goes. Most of us know what makes us feel amazing and what doesn’t. To look and feel your best in a photoshoot, let go of those things that aren’t good for you. You’ll be exuding energy. Youthful energy comes right through that lens.
My hope is you can feel the magical energy from this 60 Days shoot with my Dream Team. Stay tuned, Beauties, as we have a group photo shoot in the works for those of you who may want to join us to Celebrate Your Age and to Look Good Naked! Comment below if you’ve ever wanted to do a shoot in your birthday suit!
Catherine, I’ve been moving house and behind on my emails… but I kept saving this post. I finally saw it and the photos are absolutely amazing!! As always, what an incredible message attached. Thank you for helping and empowering women in so many ways. I have thought once or twice about doing photos like this and you have me thinking again! You inspire confidence and bravery. Thank you amazing lady!
leslie (aka elleebau on insta)
Catherine Grace O'Connell
Thank you so much, sister! Congratulations on your move. I know how exhausting that can be. Sending you lots of positive energy for new beginnings. I appreciate you!
Kelly Novak Montano
Can I just say that as women of 62, that was a gymnast, runner and very much an athlete my whole life….without intense workout your body doesn’t respond. If you are post menopausal like me you are now fighting the middle age spread. It is lack of estrogen and a whole lot of testosterone….there is no balance if you are doing it naturally. So as much as I love your body very very few women can achieve what you have and I’m so blessed with what I have and I struggle every day…not an easy path and for most again something fucking unattainable. You deserve your naked photo shoot, most of us wouldn’t have done it in our prime.
Catherine Grace O'Connell
Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and the reality of being a woman over 60. I also was a lifelong runner – until my knees blew out in my early 40’s. That was definitely a huge loss in my life and a challenge to find something that could keep me as fit. I do agree that my body doesn’t look like it did a decade or two ago but it does look the best it can for now. That’s what I’m embracing. The last year was so tough on my mind body and spirit. It took a toll on my physical health for sure. I’m grateful for this experience to see that it is possible to build muscle even at 60 but certainly not as I did in my younger years. I appreciate you!
Absolutely the best team for the best inspirational friend!!
Catherine Grace O'Connell
The best team ever!
Amazing Self Confidence!
Keep On Trucking Girl
Catherine Grace O'Connell
Thank you so much!
I love the firing up the lady parts! When can we see the final pictures I can’t wait!
Catherine Grace O'Connell
Maybe that’s a book we need to write. How to fire up those lady parts!