A special treat on the blog today: beautiful, inspiring, unstoppable Efe!
I’ve been hoping to work with someone like Efena for ages, and I finally got my chance a few weeks ago. We had a great shoot – one that felt like it had real soul and purpose and left everyone feeling really proud.
What struck me most about Efe is the way her presence influences the people around her – I’m 100% convinced she makes those around her more grateful, more optimistic, more humble. Efe has been on an incredibly challenging journey the last few years, one she didn’t ask for and never could have expected. I’m in awe of how resilient she is, plus she has this giant, contagious smile and a graceful style that makes you love her straight away.
Personally, I found spending time with Efe a bit like going to church – you watch and you listen, and then you realise: the whole point is love. I left the shoot wanting to be kinder and more grateful, and to lead with an open heart. If you spend several hours physically moving a person’s legs into position with your own hands, you end up feeling incredibly grateful for your own working, functioning, slightly below average looking legs. It’s not fair what happened to Efe and I wish it hadn’t, but my oh my is she styling it out with grace and courage. I’m so grateful to have met her and to be able to show her how beautiful she looks to the rest of us.
I asked Efe if she would like to share her thoughts at this point of her journey, and she ever so kindly sent me this:
“Marking the three year anniversary of the horrific and catastrophic car accident that rendered me paralysed from the waist down was indubitably a bittersweet experience. On April 21, 2014, a doctor broke my heart in a way I never thought was possible; when he told me I had a complete thoracic spinal cord injury. In layman’s terms, this directly translates to zero possibility of ever walking again.
Cut to April 2017. Months prior, I decided the best way to celebrate how far I haf come was through what I call my #NoFear photoshoot. Inspired by the LA-based wheelchair model/makeup artist Steph Aiello, I wanted to send a clear message with the pictures.
The idea behind #NoFear is simple. My aim is to shatter misconceptions of disabilities whilst spreading awareness of spinal cord injuries. To show that being disabled does not necessarily translate to being unable.”
“Being suddenly confined to a wheelchair is certainly no walk in the park. Side effects of a spinal cord injury include sporadic & crippling nerve pain, bouts of insomnia and working out regularly becomes an excruciating must to facilitate recovery.
Stormy and Victoria were the fantastic team behind my amazing photos. Our natural chemistry and undeniable synergy made my first professional shoot extremely fun and comfortable. Everything was utter perfection. The location, the wardrobe, the shoes and especially the make-up. My eyebrows were totally on fleek!
Without Stormy’s genius guidance, my poses would probably have been kinda lacklustre. She has this ineffable way of making you feel immediately at ease; the shots can’t help but be absolutely beautiful. She creates an atmosphere of comfort and giddyness. Furthermore, the entire process from introductory emails to signing the contract is so streamlined; you just end up focusing on being thoroughly excited the whole time.”
Through some divine connection, Rebel and Romance and Efena Smiles (my social media brand) have produced something much larger than us. To me, they defied, nay obliterated my expectations. These photos declare that my disability isn’ t going to hold me back from ‘overcoming paralysis one step at a time’ (which has been my manta for the last couple of years).
All I can really say is a massive thank you to Stormy and Vic for helping me illustrate #NoFear in powerful, perception-altering visual imagery.
Back at you babe, it was an absolute pleasure:) Efe is wearing a beaded romper and heels from River Island above.
We wanted to make sure we were showing Efe’s wheelchair in at least a few images – not so much as an aid but as more of a high tech, futuristic accessory. If you’re curious about it, or know someone who might be, it’s made by a an American company called WHILL.
This is the first time Efe has worn lingerie since the accident <3. Pink satin sleep set from Victoria’s Secret, floral crown from Monsoon.
That prize winning smile I was telling you about:)
And a COVERGIRL shot if I ever saw one. Victoria did a top notch job, as always.
Efe’s brother was on hand to help with some of the logistics of getting on and off the terrace, which is the only part of this shoot venue that is not wheelchair accessible. But what a view right? Efe is wearing a gold embroidered party dress from Topshop.
Efe, you’re honestly amazing! Thanks again for a wonderful, inspiring shoot. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you:)
Boudoir photo shoot with Mayse at the London penthouse
A few favourites from my recent boudoir photo shoot with Brazilian beauty Mayse…
I owe a huge thank you to our makeup artist Sadaf, who did a top notch job sorting out hair, makeup, and all the wardrobe for this shoot. We managed three completely different looks in about 45 min., and there’s no way I could have done it without her.
For the first look, M is wearing this beautiful set from supermodel-turned-lingerie-designer, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Her lingerie line is called “Rosie for Autograph” and it’s been a favourite of mine for ages now. It’s beautiful, romantic, comes in great colour and size options, and is available for affordable prices at Marks & Spencer of all places.
This is the Silk & Lace Padded Plunge Bra (£16-26, A-E) in Antique Green colour. However, it’s not green, definetly more of an aqua/blue colour. The Matching knickers are £8-£12.50 and come in sizes 6-20. Some colours of this particular knicker style have sold out online, but there are more coordinating options available in slightly different cuts.
If Rosie’s line is available in your size, you owe it to yourself to take a look. So many clients bring her pieces in for their boudoir photo shoot, and everyone seems to love it.
It was lovely working with M. She’s only been in the UK a short time but was a real pro, which was a blessing with our tight timeline. Additionally, her eyes are literally half the size of her head?!
Plus – that faaaace.
For makeup, Sadaf did a gorgeous dark eye, paired with a neutral lip and great skin.
This is the navy “Midnight Hours” body from Free People, available (in slim pickings) from various retailers. ASOS has a few sizes in black on clearance, and Urban Outfitters and Revolve each have one colour which is not available at Free People website, but both are sold out at the moment. Alternatively, you can purchase this body directly from FreePeople for £68-78 in a range of colours, and in sizes XS-L .
For shoots like this, a neutral nail colour is usually best. A good french tip or nude-y colour will coordinate with all the different wardrobe pieces you bring. Also, remember your toes will show up in a few images too.
Finally, a cheap and cheerful set from M&S. We can’t all be lingerie snobs all the time, and sets like these are a great addition to your everyday lingerie. This is the matching “Penelope” bra and knicker set, available in A-DD (£4-14) and 6-20 (£4-6). This colour is called “red mix.”
Miss Lucy and I got together some time ago for a London boudoir shoot, and I thought I’d share the results with you today:)
I’ve had my eye on this penthouse location for a while, and a shoot with Lucy seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try. It’s sky high, with a wrap around balcony and killer views of everything. We felt very fancy hanging out up there. It’s also got two bedrooms that are decorated differently, so it’s a great venue for photo shoots.
Lucy is a plus size model, currently signed with Hughes here in England, and this was our first time working together. Curvy Kate graciously sent us a bunch of fun lingerie to shoot with, and we supplemented with a few pieces from Lucy’s own wardrobe too.
I love a good lingerie / jacket combo. Skyline and boats are optional.
Big statement earrings, stockings, and heels pull the whole look together.
A black lace ensemble and an antique styled French bed was next on the agenda.
Such effortless posing by Miss Lucy.
High waisted knickers are a love ’em or hate ’em kind of thing, but they do photograph brilliantly.
Oh hello my pretty:)
We were really hoping for sun to fit this punchy pink Curvy Kate set, but it wasn’t on the cards that day.
Not a problem though, we just pretended instead.
Our third set was this lovely slouchy sweater. It honestly never fails.
Pair with red lips, heels, and stockings to turn things up a notch.
Low messy pigtails complete the look. Love this image on the right, Lucy has the perfect expression.
I was dubious about this chair, but I actually really liked these images in the end.
Double trouble, in Technicolor and black and white.
I climbed in a potted plant to get this shot. The life of a photographer is eversoglamorous.
How cute is Miss L here?
We tried a few dark and moody shots in an all black look too, just because we could.
Sophisticated sexiness if you ever saw it.
Lucy it was great to finally work with you! Thanks for a great shoot:)