By now you know my basic philosophy- if it’s fun with your clothes ON, wouldn’t it be even more fun with your clothes OFF? So when Priyaa Ravi of Herbal Henna Arts approached me with the idea doing a nude henna body art shoot, I was all in. It’s always been in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something like this- I love the way henna or body paint can add complexity to nude photography. So we arranged an art shoot to test and see if this was something I could start offering my clients.

The Artist

You never know what you’re getting when you are approached by other people for collaboration, so I was thrilled to find that Priyaa is a true artist, who has been dedicating herself to creating beauty through henna for many years. Our model (who did her first boudoir shoot with me a bit over a year ago because she had “never seen herself as sexy,” would you believe) was very patient throughout the painstaking application of a complex design- and the results are just spectacular.

Priyaa spent a lot of time researching full-body henna body art ideas and inspirations before the shoot, and came with a variety of design ideas. Together she, the model and I decided on a sweeping design of flowers and leaves that incorporated small clear gems into the dark henna:

The Art

We did our best to create Facebook-friendly images, but in the end found ourselves with breathtaking henna body art that was clearly and beautifully nude. So while I can’t show the full photos on Facebook, here they are in all their stunning glory.

Full-body-henna-designs-nude-bodyartFull-body-henna-designs-nude-bodyart

The Coach

So how do you transform someone from a shy first-time client into a fine art model? Getting people to relax and look great in front of the camera is one of my favourite things to do, but sometimes for special projects I will also bring in my favourite professional model/BFF Miss Alexia Day to consult, and that’s what I did here (she’ll also be teaching fine art posing at our retreats this year!). Check out this behind the scenes photos of her coaching:
Full-body-henna-designs-nude-bodyart

Be Brave, Make Art

Want a shoot like this yourself? I now offer collaborations with some of my favourite henna artists, and costs start at just $750 for both the spectacular henna AND the finished art for your wall. Email me at star@actsofbeauty.ca for more details!

 

 

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  • Vivienne

    Wow this is phenomenal ❤️ReplyCancel

    • Star

      Thanks Vivienne! We have an incredible team. <3ReplyCancel

Stephanie is fun and vibrant and sensual and she did a shoot a few months ago that I am gonna blog the SHIT out of. But today I want to share her fabulous wisdom, rather than her fabulous… other assets. This is some of the best life advice you’ll ever get, so listen up.

*  *   *

On Happiness

So much of our lives is centered around our relationships. I’m not just talking about romantic involvements, but also all those other connections we build on a day to day basis. If I could give everyone three things to remember it would be these:

You are the gatekeeper of your own happiness

Surround yourself with those people who help YOU make your life happy, not those people you rely on to make your life happy. The two sound very similar but the difference is great. We are the keepers of our own happiness and it is our own responsibility. If you rely on others to make you happy, not only are you creating a dependence that is not under your control but also putting a stress on those around you that is not fair. Those people that help you make your own life happy are the greatest friends you can have, and hopefully you can be the same kind of friend to them.

You are enough

Seek out your own self worth. Don’t base your self worth on the opinions of other people. Don’t see what you provide others as your only measure of self worth. It is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like without the relationships we have and the things we provide to others we would be worth nothing. Each of us is worth everything to ourselves.

Learn to be alone

Learn the joy of being alone with yourself. Even if it’s just for an hour. Turn off your phone. Go on a date with yourself. Experience the world as a “you” not connected to hundreds of others. Ask yourself questions about yourself. There is no greater joy than knowing that you could be completely happy if you were completely alone.

~ Steph Kuhn

*  *   *

See what I mean? Beauty AND brains. This holiday season, take some time to appreciate yourself and treat yourself to whatever makes you happy; don’t wait for other people to make your holidays great. You deserve happiness and you have the power to give it to yourself. So get on it!

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I first photographed Janet years ago when I was just a little baby photographer. I didn’t know her that well, and was surprised by the sexy energy she had in front of the camera- this glimpse into a side of her that I’d never seen, though we’d known each other in bits and pieces for years. So when she contacted me to photograph her again after I got the new studio I was incredibly excited- first, because she was so much fun to photograph the first time and second, because it is always such a relief to be able to photograph people I took pictures of during that period. Like, “If you thought that was good, you are going to LOVE this!”

What I didn’t expect, though, was how totally great it was having her wife at the photo reveal. Spouses are pretty much always huge fans of sexy photos of the person they love, but I don’t think I have ever had someone be so enthusiastically in awe of their partner’s beauty as she was. It was a window into their relationship that I will always treasure. Anne was an enthusiastic and authentic cheerleader who was so in love with Janet and the art and the vulnerability of the photos and… I could have listened to her rave all day.

Janet is both tough and strong, with a deep, tested-by-fire resilience. She is a smart woman with a sometimes dark sense of humour and she speaks her mind like someone who knows it. But she still fails to believe in her own beauty. So if you like these photos, don’t forget to comment and tell her what’s what. She can take it. 😉

Grey-hair-sexy-black-and-white

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  • Star,

    Thanks again for revealing Janet as the sensual goddess she is. She can be retiring and quiet in company, preferring to listen and absorb, so it takes an artist like yourself–with respect and insight and talent–to draw her out.

    I still take this book down and look at it, and we always receive comments from visitors on the photo we have up in the living/dining room.

    You have a rare gift and it shines through in your work.

    Thanks again.ReplyCancel

  • Cori May

    Janet is now, and always has been, my ideal of feminine beauty and grace.ReplyCancel

  • Vicki Bryanton

    Love the photographer’s eye and love the subject’s beauty. The combination really is wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Janet

    This was an amazing experience.ReplyCancel

Sexy photoshoots in a historical mansion with a colourful past- and also outdoors with the beauty of the mountains all around us. New friends, great food, and just the right amount of adventure. What more could you ask from your summer vacation?

Inspiration strikes at midnight

Last summer I hosted the first ever Canadian Fearless Retreat in Revelstoke, BC. I’d stayed the night there on a trip to Vancouver earlier in the year and fallen in love with this little mountain town; old houses and a beautiful river, endless green trees and towering peaks, and some really, really excellent pizza. While I was lying in bed listening to the wind in the trees, it occurred to me that this could be the answer for all the women who say, every year, that they’d love to go on one of my retreats if it weren’t for life getting in the way; not enough vacation time, money is tight, finding a babysitter… you know how it goes. There are a dozen reasons why flying away to exotic places isn’t always an option. So instead of sleeping I took out my phone and started searching.

Destination: Fabulous

I knew as soon as I saw it that I’d found the right place. The colourful outside made it look like a gingerbread house out of a fairy story, and inside, the mansion was full of fragile light and rich wood, lace and intricately detailed wallpapers and quirky, wonderful, richly appointed rooms. Exactly the sort of place that I love to photograph in, and just right for setting the tone of the retreat.

And when the time came…

It was perfect. We laughed and explored and took endless, amazing photographs and bonded and learned about Tinder (!) and accidentally flashed a stranger (whoops) and laughed some more. Some people went for quiet morning walks and others went whitewater rafting, we sampled some truly incredible restaurants together, we found the world’s best coffee and picked fresh raspberries for our breakfast.

Here, long overdue, are just a very few of the many wonderful photos from Revelstoke 2016. I’d love it if you’d comment and let us know what you think. <3

Join us!

Registration for Fearless: Revelstoke 2017 is now open! Want to be a part of the fun? Contact me at star@actsofbeauty.ca or use the form below!

 

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So I met this girl.

I fell in love with her, and it was the easiest thing I’d ever done. Falling wasn’t even the right word; it was more like the gentle fitting into place of perfectly matched pieces, or falling into step with someone whose stride is exactly the same length as yours. Not the g-force drama I’ve had with men, none of the dizzying uncertainty and gale-force emotions. Instead there was something sweet and inevitable, a warmth and rightness that I felt the first time I met her and haven’t stopped feeling since whenever we’re together.

Except, life is complicated and full and we’re not together that much. And it’s easy, yes, except for the one little detail that I’ve never been in love with a girl before. I’ve wanted to be, and there have been sparks and moments, but deep down I thought I was straight. I’m around naked women ALL THE TIME and the only thing I notice is the way the right light brings out a beauty they didn’t know they had. Heady stuff, but no romance to it.

So this was easy, except that anytime I wasn’t with her I would trip over my doubts and demons- I’m not “gay enough.” A woman couldn’t really want me like that (thanks, society). I’m just playing, pretending, the straight girl who is going to break her heart. It’s all TOO easy- new love is supposed to be sharp and loud and fiery and uncomfortable. It’s not supposed to just gently slide its hand into yours and keep walking.

So the past few months I have been struggling. It’s been a hard few months in a lot of ways; my complicated adopted daughter has been in crisis and has taken most of my time, energy and emotional resources. My demons have been out in full force. And so I haven’t told you about this girl who is one of the bright spots in my life, because I guess I just didn’t believe it was real. Or that I deserved her. Or that I wasn’t just faking it, somehow.

Yesterday she and I almost ended things. To be honest, I’m still not sure what shape they will take. It turns out both of us were trying so hard to be what we thought we should be that we’d lost sight of the fact that we were both strong enough to hold each others’ flaws and uncertainties. I think we know that now, but I don’t know what she will want this to be, moving forward.

So ironically, this “coming out” happens not when I have a pretty romance between two pretty girls to show you but instead when I’m not really sure where this is going at all. What I do know, though, is that yesterday I was finally able to let the clouds clear.

I’m gay enough. I’m in love with a woman. I want to kiss her when she cries and hold hands with her when we walk and I’m not “just playing,” except inasmuch as a playful attitude towards life and love is one of the beautiful things we share. It’s okay for this thing I’ve never done before to feel different from the things I have done, and when I let go of worrying about how I should be, act, and feel, I can see that it feels… right.

She’s amazing. She’s strong, but willow-strong, bending almost to the ground sometimes under a storm and then coming back up to her full graceful height. She’s sweet, and kind, and giving, and sees the world with the fresh eyes of a child or a traveller from another place, but she’s not naive and not perfect. I like her that way.She dances like it’s her soul dancing instead of her body and she is teaching me by example that it’s okay to find your own spiritual path and to believe in a way that brings you both comfort and joy. She is graceful, and powerful, and sometimes crass and rough and ridiculous. <3   She has a warmth and openness that draws people to her like moths. And I love the person I am around her- warmer, softer, more open. Wherever this relationship of ours goes, I’m grateful for the parts of myself she’s helped me to find.

Happy Pride month, everyone.

Pride Flag

The Fine Print

1- I’m still with Ben. He and I don’t choose to feel romantic love only for each other. It’s a complicated life, but we like it. Feel free to ask us about it sometime if you’re curious.

2- Obviously coming out on my business page may have some ramifications, so let me be clear: whether you’re a man or a woman, I’m not going to be turned on by photographing you. I don’t know if this is a function of professionalism or if it’s a handy side effect of being demisexual (short version: on the asexual spectrum, I can’t feel attraction to someone I’m not already in love with) but either way, I just don’t like you that way. Sorry. 😉

 

 

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  • Stephanie

    I’m so glad you have found this love. Whether it’s forever or for now, it makes you happy and that makes me happy. You’re still one of my heros.

    I’ve absolutely zero fear that you’ll look at your clients any differently due to this. You are, and always have been, a consummate professional. Your eye for beauty, your desire to make women see their own beauty, none of that has changed.

    Love you!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica

    Congratulations on finding someone who makes you feel so happy. 🙂 These things always seem so difficult, but once you are able to fully look at every part of everything, you realize that what you didn’t know or understand, has been happily sitting there in front of you all along.
    I am so happy for both of you, and I hope that you are able to bring the smiles and love to each other for a long time.

    Happy Pride to a wonderful lady and her partner!!
    I hope to see you both on the parade grounds new weekend. 😉ReplyCancel

    • Star

      Thanks Jessica! It’s very true- things seem so hard when you’re caught up in them, but when you can take a step back and breathe, sometimes the clouds just clear.ReplyCancel

  • Brandi

    Star,
    You are an amazing individual.
    I’m speechless and in awe.
    You deserve happiness in any form you accept it.
    Lots of love to you, my friend (and photographer).ReplyCancel

    • Star

      <3 Thank you, Brandi. I miss your light and your smile, drop me a line next time you're in town!ReplyCancel

  • Julie

    This makes my heart sing!! Finding a love like that is an amazing blessing and I personally can’t wait to see you continue to blossom and grow as an individual AND a professional. As someone who’s taken clothes off for pictures by both men and women, I believe your sexual preferences have NOTHING to do with your artistic capability and the only thing this love will do is enhance your own beauty and those of us lucky enough to be your clients will benefit from that love radiating during our sessions. See you in Bali!ReplyCancel

    • Star

      Thanks Julie! It makes my heart sing too. <3ReplyCancel

  • Jodi

    Thank you so much for sharing, Star. I’m so very happy for you. I hope I get to meet your lucky girl sometime (assuming I don’t already know her). You have always been a kind, beautiful soul, and if she matches you that well, I love her already. I’m also completely unconcerned that this will affect your professionalism in any way. Work is work. I know you are always focused on (consumed by? ) the art form, and that is one of the reasons you are just sooooo dang good at it.
    Thanks for filing my heart with all the feels this morning….
    🙂ReplyCancel

    • Star

      Whatever comes, she’ll be a loved part of my life- want to go dancing next time you’re in town? <3ReplyCancel

  • Lauren

    Hi Star,
    This is lovely and touching and, ultimately, reassuring. Love and take care,
    LaurenReplyCancel

  • Lilliana

    Love comes in many forms.
    Takes guts and bravey to share this and i admire you for this!
    It is what it is and acknowledging this is an act of love in it self.
    Happy for you my friend!
    You are who you are and that what makes you so good at what you do as well. Your clients love you and sharing this may even inspire them to just be themselves and be more brave and bold!
    Love ya!ReplyCancel

  • Fuck society.

    You do you.ReplyCancel