I’ve sad it before and I’ll say it again, my boudoir clients are the BEST. It blows my mind on a weekly basis that I get to meet so many powerful and inspiring womxn from all over the globe and from all walks of life – and that they trust me to tell their stories with my camera. One such client is Callie Connelly who flew over all the way from the United States to shoot with me at the Rookery Hotel in London. I recently caught up with Callie to find out more about the inspiration behind this boudoir shoot…
***Content Warning: Please note that this interview contains conversation around the theme of cancer, which may trigger some readers. If you would prefer to read something a little lighter, click here to read some of my other interviews.***
Occupation: Horse trainer & riding instructor
How would your best friend describe you? I outsourced this question to one of my best friends, Katie & her husband Tony. They said: “We aren’t going with zesty because you are not a salad dressing. We chose: Courageous, Energetic, Creative, & Tenacious!” I love to make my friends laugh so I hope they would also describe me as at least occasionally funny.
Name three things that you always carry with you? Red lipstick (currently Dior Instinct), sunglasses, and a pen.
What was the last book you read? I re-read my favourite novel Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins and I am currently chipping away at Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
What inspired you to book a photoshoot? Last year I was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer. I was told my only chance for treatment was to have a hysterectomy as the cancer was known to not respond to chemo or radiation. While I was battling with the choice of a life-altering and life-preserving surgery, I reached out to Tigz. My goal was not just to be cancer-free but a wholly healthy person and part of that was learning to love and appreciate my body. Being a woman who thrives on independence, having to surrender to the skills offered by another person was very difficult for me. Just as I trusted the surgeon to wield his scalpel, I trusted Tigz to manoeuvre her camera. I brought many items from home in order to curate the space to imitate the healing done from the comfort of my bedroom where I often dance; casting shadows on my wall illuminated by orange light from candles. When I couldn’t trust what I saw in the mirror, I knew my body was still my own when I saw the silhouette moving along plaster. In the images, you’ll find gold leaf tarot cards, a Venus intention candle, orange glow from the lamps, and hand phrasing imitated from 1920s dancers. Everything had significance and contributed to my healing.
Who would play you in a movie of your life? Maggie Gyllenhaal
What’s the most interesting thing about you that the internet doesn’t know about you yet? I am reclaiming the name given to me at birth before my adoption and finally starting to collaborate to create artwork.
Tell us about one of the outfits you wore for your shoot – why do you love it? The Agent Provocateur Demelza set. I went way out of my comfort zone for this as I’m quite shy in the buff. My body fluctuated so much after surgery that I was nervous to even purchase something for fear of it not fitting and scarring my confidence. Under recommendation from Tigz, I went to Selfridges’ lingerie department and had the BEST experience at Agent Provocateur. The first set I put on fit me perfectly and I cried in the dressing room. Never underestimate the power of well-fitting clothing!
Describe your shoot experience? Amazing. Wonderful. Everything I could have hoped for. Tigz and Kelly are sincere professionals but they also created an environment in which I felt truly supported as a person and model. It happened organically, but I also got to do some poses similar to one of my favourite images from Tigz’s body of work that was close to nude. I remember first seeing that image, loving it and thinking “I could never do that”. Guess what? I can!!
What song gets you on the dancefloor? I’m from Chicago so I can’t resist getting down to some proper House music! But I’m also a swing dancer so you’ll find me swinging out to some jazz, blues, and rock & roll. Basically, it’s more difficult to get me off the dance floor!
What are you most proud of in your career so far? I love my job. Getting paid to ride and take care of horses is living the dream. Also, I get to help people, create a safe space for them to go and challenge them to learn.
What is your top body confidence tip? You have no flaws, only physiqued evidence of experience and some wear their badges more visible than others. Every part is a piece of you; flaunt it and love yourself!!
What will your autobiography be called? We Are All Wounded Birds – named for the vintage clothing term for pieces that are gorgeous, wearable, but need a little TLC.
If you could be a model for any brand, which brand would it be and why? Vintage, vintage, more vintage!! I love every opportunity to wear a piece of art and history. I consider finding each piece similar to unearthing a fossil (such unique circumstances allowed it to be preserved and then found) and it’s an honour to share the silhouette and story behind each archaeological find!
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about booking a session of their own? Do it!! I knew my body was going to be in the worst shape it’s ever been. But Tigz is so incredible at capturing a person’s body in conjunction with light and making each image magazine cover-worthy even in lingerie! Now I’ll always have those images to look back on and think “wow, my body may have not been the most fit but I LOOK AMAZING!”
What exciting project are you working on right now? Currently working on a lot of writing that I hope to share and have been picking up the encaustic paints again. I hope to curate some shows in the near future that combine painting with poetry.
Where can we find more of Callie Connelly online? Instagram
Inspired by Callie Connelly? Book your own boudoir shoot with me today – check out my boudoir photography packages here and then drop me an email with your preferred date. I can’t wait to hear from you!