At the beginning of 2016 I was approached by Rachael Kennedy, the president of Morley Womens Institue and founder of Olio Projects, about the opportunity to photograph a calendar for the Morley WI. As a member of the WI I was quite intrigued and then they told me more......................
This was to be a nude calendar!!! Remember the brave ladies of Rylstone and District Women's Institute, who took the world by storm with the original WI nude calendar? Inspired by them, this was a nude calendar featuring the ladies of Morley WI. In true WI spirit we'd be raising funds for charity. A charity very close to the hearts of the committee members, all money from the calendar was to be donated to - BTRS (Brain Tumour Research and Support)
I have to admit, when I found out more my reaction was ‘OMG No way!!”, ‘I can’t do that’ ‘ is it a bit extreme if I move to Spain?’. Then I thought, 'if the ladies can get their kit off then I can take a photo'.
The idea was not to imitate the original calendar, but to create a calendar that captured the fun, strength and beauty in the ladies of the Morley WI. Meeting with the steering committee we agreed 'events' would be our theme and decided on an event for each month. I drew pictures to show the ideas for each month and presented them to the group. Now, baring in mind that I can't draw (at all), the ladies had a good laugh at my drawings which broke the ice and got us all in the spirit of the calendar. Here is my drawing for June (Wimbledon) - really don't see what is so funny :)
With support from other WI members we started the difficult task of finding and collecting props for each photo. With the deadline fast approaching, we gathered straw bales, tennis balls, flowers (thanks to Janet at DW Hunt), Christmas trees, magnums of fizz and more.... To help with any last minute nerves the ladies and I attended a confidence building session with Zoe from Refreshed Minds. With a confident spring in our step WE WERE READY!!
We gave our studio and home over to the ladies who drank Prosecco and ate chocolates and strawberries while awaiting their turn.
With two days to shoot all 12 months and turning the studio round in between each shoot, it was run like a military operation (with fun & fizz). There were a few nerves, lots of laughter, and the odd tear when the ladies thought about their own personal reasons for taking part. One thing is for sure - a group of women supporting each other is a powerful thing.
With the shoot wrapped and our achievement celebrated in style at the 'after shoot party', we were all so proud of what we had achieved. Then finally, the finished photos were on the way to the printers.......
My part in the calendar was complete but the promotion and selling of the calendar was just beginning. And what a response we had! The Yorkshire Post ran an article while the ladies went on a promotional tour of Morley visiting sponsors, attending the Lord Mayors Lunch and running stalls at the White Rose shopping centre, Leeds training station and LGI - phew!!
It's not surprising that within the first 24 hours they had raised over £3000!! Not content with staying local, the calendar went global - with the Morley WI calendar ladies being found in Oz!
With just about all the calendars sold, I'm looking forward to seeing the calendar on the wall of many homes during 2017.
Missed out on a calendar but still want to make a donation? Visit the Just Giving page and support BTRS.
On a personal level this has been an amazing experience. I've made lots of friends along the way and have a huge amount of respect for the beautiful and brave ladies who had the guts to bare all for charity, I feel very privileged to have been part of it.