Shelley arrived at my studio on the morning of her shoot, very unsure about what was about to unfold and more than a little reluctant. A mutual friend of ours had bought her this shoot as a gift and so Shelley had shown up for the shoot more out of obligation, rather than actual enthusiasm and desire.

I knew straight away though that this was going to be one of those shoots that gives my client more than just a selection of portraits. This was going to have a profound effect on her and me. I also knew that we’d be able to have some fun and step out of our respective comfort zones – the giveaway – Shelley’s purple hair! Not to mention her bag full of fun & colourful dresses AND the box of blue cupcakes she had brought along. Shelley bakes the most gorgeous looking cupcakes and themed cakes I’ve seen. And they taste good too – more than good – they taste delicious!!

before and after

See more photos from Shelley’s shoot

We had Bia from Little Harlequin doing Shelley’s hair and makeup which was absolutely perfect, as one of Bia’s passions is the whole Rockabilly vibe and this suited Shelley’s shoot down to the T!

Once her hair and makeup was done, it was time for Shelley to step out in front of the camera. The portrait above was one of the first images I shot. I showed her the back of the camera, and then I saw it! That moment. Shelley saw herself in a new light. She saw herself differently. The moment where we nearly had a makeup disaster. Goosebumps. Tears. Smiles. And an enthusiasm to carry on the shoot with renewed energy.

From that point on, the 3 of us – Shelley, Bia and myself, lost ourselves into a world of playing dress up, dancing, laughing, squeeling and eating cupcakes. Hours passed without us even noticing.

I know that shoot changed me as a photographer, and I hope that it changed Shelley, in the way that she sees herself. To embrace the discomfort, to accept the challenges and to colour herself beautiful, because when she does that, when we all do that, we create opportunities that allow us a chance to tap into a side of ourselves that gets oppressed by daily obligations. Let go of the heaviness of adult reality and allow yourself some colourful playtime to change your energy and top up your enthusiasm for the simple things.

A special thanks to Rikki, who encouraged Shelley to do this shoot and who supplied her with many of the colourful outfits she wore. I love your child-like enthusiasm for dress-up and imaginative play Rikki, don’t ever lose that!

cupcake rockabilly makeover portrait photo shoot

See more photos from Shelley’s shoot