“What’s your sexy secret?”
This was the closing question we asked all of our guests on Season 2 of the Adventures Podcast, as well as during our sold out live show in London last year. If you’ve been following us on the socials, then you know that the responses range from sweet and self-reflective to the outright absurd. Not willing to be left out of the fun, some of our more adventurous Adventurers DM’d us with your own responses to the question and boy…some of you are freaks! Don’t worry. Your sexy secrets are safe with us. *wink*
In the course of the months that have followed since we wrapped up production of the podcast season, I have discovered that I have a new secret to add to my sexy confidential closet. And it’s not so much of a “what” than a “who”. No, I’m not having an affair with this person, although his lens has managed to utterly seduce me and there is absolutely no looking back. How about I show you rather than tell you? My sexy secret’s name is none other than Accra-based photographer and experience curator, Gerard Nartey. Look at these images to see for yourself why I have fallen for his camera’s charms:
Gerard has been a quiet part of the Adventures community for the past two years. His seminar on the boudoir experience has been a highlight of our Creators program since we first invited him to speak and share his work in 2022. What I loved (and will always love) most about his photography style is how the body is transformed into art through the use of light and placement. Sometimes that placement is accidental, and sometimes it’s the result of many stressful minutes of self-contortion, but the result is always exquisite in the end. But above all else, a shoot with Gerard is an exercise in vulnerability; and after all, didn’t I identify “vulnerability” as my new year sex goal in 2023?
When I walked into his studio on a humid October morning, I hastily put down my bags and asked if I could quickly put on some make up.
“I would prefer it if you didn’t,” he said quietly but firmly. I was taken aback by his refusal. What kind of shoot in Accra doesn’t allow make up?
“But my face needs help!” I objected weakly.
“I think that’s a matter of opinion,” he replied flatly. I couldn’t tell if he was flattering me or chastising me, but I quickly grabbed some plum colored matte lipstick and hastily smeared it across my lips. No way was I going to allow my mouth to be ashy for a shoot I had flown from the bottom of the continent for. He offered me water, went about adjusting both the settings on his camera and the volume of some neo-soul soundtrack playing in the background and most importantly, made me feel welcome and at ease.
And then we began…and so did the magic.
I have had several shoots with all kinds of photographers in America, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. With the exception of two people, all of those photogs have been men; And so far, Ghanaian men have been the worst when photographing my face and body. There is a subtle – almost imperceptible- disdain for my fat body that becomes obvious when the pictures arrive in my DropBox. For these men, the results did not matter so long as they were paid their fee. I wrote about it extensively on my personal blog. After those events, I vowed that I would never allow another Black man to shoot me; but as the elders so wisely warn no one should ever use the words always and never…because you never know.
With Gerard, I never knew I could feel this beautiful. My stretchmarks looked like seams of gold, my lazy eye became interesting, my fat thighs and broad back became canvases. And when I needed direction he was encouraging, never patronizing. Before the last shutter click sounded after our two-hour session, I knew I had to do this with him again.
I firmly believe that every girl needs a go-to photographer she can trust to confirm her beauty. It doesn’t have to be a professional. It just has to be someone whose opinion of you matches the radiance of the starlight we all carry in both strength and confidence. And yeah…you kinda want someone to have a positive opinion of you if you are to naked yourself before them. What distinguishes Gerard from the other men I’ve worked with is his firm belief that every body is its own unique work of art. It will shift and change with time, and that inevitable change is why it should be celebrated in the moment…before this artifact is lost to time forever.
If I sound wistful it’s because I am. Every time I look at these pictures (and the more risque ones I have chosen not to share), I am taken to a place of serenity, vulnerability and pleasure. I’m ready to go back.
Do you have a sexy secret to share?