Discovering inner & outer beauty through love

Part A: Exploring New Forms of Directing

I’m going to focus this blog around Claire because I learnt so much from her and I want to share my journey with her. Let me start by telling you a bit about her …

Claire is an artist (aka @MissPainterly). She paints and she photographs. She’s also a mother of two. She has been with her fiance Dan for 10 years and now they have finally decided to get married.

As with most photographers I know and have worked with, they are very comfortable behind the lens. Put them infront of the camera and their insecurities come out just like the rest of us. To me Claire is exquisitely beautiful but she didn’t feel it and didn’t believe she could take a good photograph (can you believe that?!). She felt awkward in front of camera. And once I saw that, my mission and intention was for her to walk away from the shoot realising how beautiful she really is. Not just physically on the outside. I wanted her to feel beautiful from the inside out and capture that essence in a still picture.

I imagine having kids and running a household makes you feel less glamorous, less youthful and less romantic. And I really wanted to give Claire that “I feel fabulous” spark back. I wanted her to feel beautiful, spontaneous, glamorous and youthful again. Dan her fiance already looks at her that way, now it was time for her to see and feel it too!

This is one of first images we took of Claire and I really love it because it honestly depicts how nervous she was about being in front of the lens.



On the shoot I used a process that required her to go into her imagination and draw emotions from within herself out (something I learnt from Joanna’s forest beauty shoot). I was just experimenting and allowing my intuition guide her to her intuition. I’ve learnt through all my directing that being in front of the camera is not about posing to look good. It’s about feeling something and allowing the camera to capture it. And alot of this comes down to how comfortable you are within yourself and how much you trust your own movements.

After 5 minutes playing with this process we captured this image below … I love it because she’s not posing. She has actually disappeared within herself and I’m curious to know where she has gone.

Here are some more experimenting shots …

After playing around with Claire and her imagination for a while, we added Dan back to the mix and the pictures we captured from thereon were mesmerising. She completely opened herself up and allowed herself to be seen …


It was actually fascinating to see Claire move from being nervous in front of the lens to moving freely in front of it. It was like through going the the imagination technique, she allowed the worries of the world to slip away and she could be present. With herself. With how she felt. And with Dan. And through that, discover another side to herself – thank you Claire for sharing that process with me!

Art Directing Tip
Trust your intuition with what your doing. If your gut instant says to try something new, do it even if it doesn’t make sense. Claire and I had a really deep and meaningful conversation on the shoot. It’s not something I normally do but intuition said this conversation was important. In the end the conversation we had gave Claire permission to be whoever she wanted to be in front of the camera. She didn’t need my permission but the conversation let her know she has the space to be herself. It was really special.


Part B: Shooting 2 Couples at the Same Time

If you read my blog about the experiment you’ll know that we shot Lauren & Eoghan at the same time we shot Claire and Dan. We shot both couples in about 30 minutes at sunset and I wanted to give myself and Darren (the photographer) the challenge of conveying two different types of love stories from one scene within a very short space of time. Why? Because I think stress and pressure makes people perform and behave differently and I wanted to see how I would handle it.

Check out Lauren & Eoghan’s shoot and hopefully you’ll agree that we managed to capture two very different relationships with this one scene. Obviously there is always room for improvement and I’m never really 100% satisfied with what I do.

ps. Please read Claire and Dan’s story below. It’s so inspirational it got me all choked up reading it!


If you’re a big believer in honest, realistic, no bullshit love stories then I think you should read Claire and Dan’s story. Firstly I have to say thank you to them for being willing to share it. It’s very personal and initially I was hesitant to share it at all. But Claire said she wanted to share it. It’s her story and she’s very comfortable with sharing both the ups and downs of her journey because it has made their relationship so much stronger.

So here is their story. It’s a real one. As soon as I read it I got choked up and I knew I wanted to capture their love.

Claire & Dan’s Story …
We met at Glastonbury and our eyes met over a crowd whilst waiting for our hero David Bowie to come on stage. It was a perfect moment. He looked back at his friend (who was standing next to me) to tell him he was going to try and get to the front but his friend said he wasn’t going. In that instant I put my hand up through the crowd and said “take me with you”. We’ve been inseparable ever since.

Our first baby ‘accidentally or surprisingly’ arrived 18 months later!

We lived in London for 10 years in a small flat with 2 children in Primrose Hill. We were living frugally whilst we built up and ran our company. We were already under great financial constraint so when the recession took hold and we were not paid for almost a years worth of work we were taken shockingly to the brink of starvation. We almost lost everything; our home, office, belongings, everything we had built up and worked hard for. Times were unbelievably hard and we were struggling to keep our business afloat and food on the table. Dan was forced to be in the office every hour of the day, 7 days a week. The children hardly saw him, causing great strain on our family life. We received no outside help just had to struggle through. We became isolated, depressed and claustrophobic in our small space. We felt utterly trapped by our circumstance. It took reaching our darkest moment to decide what were we going to do. We could either fail, lose everything and sink or come up fighting. We chose to fight. With great tenacity we pushed for change, for a better life and future for our children. We refused to be beaten. Nothing could stop us.

We made the life changing decision to move out of the place we loved truly loved, London. We swapped it for Brighton. We moved 1 year ago, It was a huge scary step and some months later we managed to also scarily move our business to Brighton. Things were coming together, we were finally achieving balance between work and family life, our children got to see there dad all the time. Financially we had created a complete u turn and we were out of the dark. We were starting to feel a sense of euphoria and disbeleivement at how we had achieved our goals. We would dance around our newly found living space (it was a stark contrast to our cramped 1 bedroom London flat). Loving the fresh Sussex air and countryside, I could finally concentrate on restarting my painting/artist/photography career. Life was coming together.

Then at the beginning of the year just as we were setting into our new happier life our youngest son became dangerously ill on his 3rd birthday – a life threatening infection. The doctors were doubtful and unsure if it would be possible to save his life. We would have to wait 3 days to see if the antibiotics would work and save him. If they didn’t work he would pass away. The doctors did not know if they had given him the right antibiotics. It didn’t seem to be working. It was utterly terrifying. A living nightmare. But then, amazingly, after 4 days and a higher than adult dosage there were the first signs of improvement. We were told he was going to make it. His recovery took months.

As the months of this year passed and our youngest son recovered to health, we were able to finally reflect … We’ve come through so much, and yet we have always remained so very close and in love … times that would test most relationships and push them to the brink have only made us stronger. We were always going to get married but kept resisting the families pressure over the years to just walk into a registry office for cheapness. We wanted to wait until we could afford to throw a party we felt our relationship deserved. We recognised that time is now. Life’s hurdles have finally been overcome.

Photographer: Darren Wong
Art Director: Thaoski

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Comments
10 Responses to “Discovering inner & outer beauty through love”
  1. Alma Roux says:

    Love this shoot Thaoski! Her make-up & hair is stunning. Very elegant & stylish shoot. :) Me likes!

  2. Humaira says:

    What a beautiful couple and a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Kristie says:

    I love the pics, I love the way she looks, I love their story. Nice to read something so real and so inspiring.

  4. Star says:

    This is so lovely! Really great story, and like you said; authentic and very moving! She is stunning! :-)

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  1. [...] amazing to watch a great creative duo & such a pleasure to meet the other couple on the shoot Claire & Dan who are getting married next [...]

  2. [...] Amazing to watch a great creative duo & such a pleasure to meet the other couple on the shoot Claire & Dan who are getting married next [...]

  3. [...] Amazing to watch a great creative duo & such a pleasure to meet the other couple on the shoot Claire & Dan who are getting married next [...]



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