Warrior Mama Maternity Shoot

I first met photographer Misty Bradley of Revel Photo at our Braid Workshop in May. I instantly took a liking to her – she was kind, funny, and warm. Over breakfast I revealed to her that I was thinking about starting a family but had my hesitations. What I didn’t know was that I was already carrying a zygote of a baby in that very moment. But Misty had a feeling – as many intuitive women do – that I was already pregnant.

When Misty spoke about her photography business at our workshop she shared passionately her vision of bringing back an era of women who have glorious portraits made. We’re talking Dynasty style glamour shots framed in gold and hung on mantles. After immersing myself in a Kinfolk-style Pinterest-curated world of desaturated images, lots of negative space, and pigeon-toed posing, Misty was verbalizing a pretty radical alternative – and I loved it. A few months later I announced my pregnancy and Misty generously pitched a shoot to me involving buffalo, mountains, dramatic makeup, and perhaps a little bit of nudity. Of course, I was in.

On our drive to the shoot Misty said “I’m not a photographer for women who want to look like their every day selves.” But nobody has ever made me feel more “me” than Misty did in these images.

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“Hidden in the glorious wildness like unmined gold.”
- John Muir

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  1. Jessica

    OMG, YOUR BOOBS!!!! BOOBS BOOBS BOOBS!

    okay, now that I have that out…Love the shoot concept:) so right for a little Oklahoma bebe.

    • RIGHT!? That’s what I say about ‘em on the daily. ;)

  2. Lisa

    Good Lord. You are a force.

    • Thanks, Lisa! It was such a fun shoot – it certainly made me feel like a force. XO

  3. Greg Dimond

    Damn, girl!

    • I know, right!? Who knew…

  4. Liz

    These photos, mama and scenery are beautiful, the cultural appropriation is tacky at best and offensive at worst. It is a shame that such an unfortunate aesthetic choice takes away from this special moment.

    • Hi Liz! I guess it was inevitable that we would be misunderstood. Kathleen & I both are of Cherokee heritage, both from Oklahoma, and wanted to celebrate and respect that heritage. Additionally, this was inspired by a sort of fusion of Warrior Mama: past, present, and future. The whole “dust we are from” meets “modern Kathleen” meets “apocalyptic Mad Max warrior”. I am saddened that you were offended but this was created in celebration and I’m quite proud of it. Warmest wishes!

    • Liz, I second everything Misty responded with below. In addition, I sent you an email. I hope we can have a constructive conversation about this outside of the comment section of my blog.

      • Erin

        I think it would have been smart to include these notes about your thought process in the original post. As is, the post seemed a little flippant because you didn’t say anything about recognizing that this could potentially be offensive. If you’re going to carry out cultural appropriations (and I have my own feelings about that, which I can set aside for now), I think it’s important to at least let your readers know that you considered the implications of it. We all have a responsibility to be sensitive to our role in perpetuating unequal power relations, and I do feel that this post dropped the ball.

      • Barbara Frazier

        Liz,
        Unfortunately, you could not see the concept Misty and Kathleen envisioned. The beginning, throughout entire process. This was a true work work of art.
        I have know Misty all of her life. She is and has always been a beautiful spirit.
        I am here to say just how proud of her I am and the idea that these two women had the vision to bring this together. I was inspired and pulled into and adventure that only left me looking forward to Misty’s next project.
        Congratulations on “Warrior Mama Maternity Shoot” Misty & Kathleen.

  5. Kathleen, this was such a beautiful expression of who you are and who you are becoming. So glad to be a part of it.

    • Thank YOU, Misty. It was so cool getting to collaborate with you. You made me so comfortable and we had so much fun. And now I have some amazing photos that I can’t wait to show this kiddo (and future grand kiddos).

      XO

    • Jess

      Misty, I remember hearing your dreams for your business at the workshop and knew you were on to something. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen from Revel, but this takes it all. SUCH a wonderful job!

      • Thanks, Jess! It’s been so fun to watch everyone’s journey. So glad Braid brought us all together!

  6. Absolutely breathtaking. Strong mamas should be celebrated! Love it.

  7. jensen

    I’m just going to ditto Greg.

    DAMN, GIRL.

  8. Bre

    YES, THIS. You look hot. And I’m so happy for you. :)

  9. Kathleen, wow. These are stunning. YOU are stunning. I love what Misty said above ^ about the theme and your combined vision for this shoot. A celebration indeed!

    (And those BOOBS!) ;)

  10. Amazing photos! These are very different from the typical maternity photos, and do a great job of embracing the confidence you have in your changing body, and what it represents for the changes in your life.

    Well done!

  11. ~abi~

    I LOVE THESE PHOTOS!!!!!

  12. Jessica

    I’m a reader who usually just lurks without commenting, but I have to break my silence to say YOU LOOK AMAZING. A. Maz. Ing.

  13. Carrie

    !!! SO badass and beautiful! By far the coolest maternity shoot I’ve ever seen. The pictures really do seem so perfectly you at right this moment.
    These are going to be such a treasure for you and your family years down the road. congrats lady!

  14. Celeste

    Amazing and beautiful. Made me nostalgic for Oklahoma definitely.

    These photos definitely seem to bring out your fierce Mama Bear spirit.

  15. Ravyn

    Beautiful!! You are radiant. Your eye makeup was so rad. I love how much you’re embracing that mama goddess side of pregnancy … It’s such a gift to feel so connected to the universe.

  16. Emily

    In love with this. In love with you. Bad ass.

  17. Claire

    S T U N N I N G ! ! ! nice job ladies <3

  18. by far the most amazing maternity photoshoot I have EVER laid eyes on! I love this. you look amazing, the photos are awesome and the make-up. SO right on!

  19. aj

    Amazing. Beautiful. Words really don’t do it justice!

  20. Mary

    Awesome. Phenomenal photogrphy by Misty Bradley and crazy cool spirit in Kathleen.

  21. Jade

    I LOVE the one of you in a goddess squat! Well I love them all, but that one the most. So Oklahoma, so beautiful, so you.

  22. Wanda

    Love the last photo closeup w deep shadows!

  23. Wanda

    Oh & the one w buffalo in background – reminds me of our very close encounter w buffalo on this same mountain many yrs ago & kind of makes me think of ur yaks in Nepal

  24. Jennifer

    WOW. These are so fantastic. Thank you for sharing. Truly.

    (also since no one has mentioned it, I am definitely reminded of the First Slayer in Buffy. except for more powerful.)

    • Jennifer! Do you remember the dreamy episode with the aboriginal slayer? That’s by far my favorite episode ever. XOXO

      • Jennifer

        Yesz! “I wear the cheese, the cheese does not wear me.”
        Such a great episode.

  25. Natalie

    Wowza! These images are just so perfect!

  26. Claire

    You said it so right, Misty captured you to the core. I adore everything about this shoot!

  27. SusanA

    Powerful. Breathtaking. Fierce. Beautiful. Wow.

  28. rachel

    omg. that last one. killer.

  29. Matt

    Seriously? I’m sure you mean no harm, but this kind of cultural appropriation is terrible. My culture, as wll as the cultures of all Indigenous and First Nations peoples aren’t props to be used like this. We’re still here. And this is definitely offensive. Please take this into consideration. Hireway Turahe.

  30. Jaime

    These are so paleo. Hahahahahaha

    Seriously K, these are beautiful and powerful. I feel like the true essence of who you are really comes out in these and I wish more people would create photos like these that exude a sense of their raw self. xo

  31. Rocio

    When I first saw the picture on my Instagram feed, I was speechless and then I said to myself, Well, did you expect anything less from Kathleen? And no I did not. The photos are so “YOU” . You never stop surprising me. They are amazing Misty captured “you”.

  32. Shivani

    I LOVE the goddess pose one. I have literally kept this unread in my Feedly just so I can keep coming back to it. so fierce, I am so amazed. If I can be half the warrior woman mama you are in these photos, I would be so happy.

    • Shivani

      Also – thanks for pointing out the reasons behind the supposed cultural appropriation – I admit, I was worried about that too, but I am glad you chose to pay tribute and be aware of the choices you made! The end result is stunning and worth of pride, not cause for concern, I think!

  33. Stacia

    I definitely think that the vibe you were searching for comes through in these photos. It’s neat to see photography being taking in a different direction instead of flowing with the masses. You definitely have some powerful photos here.

  34. Monika

    These photos are amazing! True warrior and a Woman in One. I love it :)

  35. Renee

    Your kid is going to love these someday! Inspiring, as always. And thank you for sharing such beautiful images with us.

  36. Kate

    These images are amazing. They go so far beyond the traditional type of maternity shoot that we’re all so used to seeing. You guys broke the mold and then some! I think it’s so cool that this came out of your imagination—and that you made it happen!

  37. Margie

    Wow! Now go and move mountains, okay?

    • Whitney

      Right? That’s how these make me feel, too!

  38. Rachel

    STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. This is so incredibly AWESOME. And OMG, like whatever commenter said it, your boobs look AMAZING!

  39. Kelsey

    Dude, WHOA. These pictures are amazing!!! Kathleen, not only do you look gorgeous, but also really healthy and strong. Just overall beautiful! Misty really captured you, at least the you we have gotten to know in your blog. I love how Lisa called you a force. You ARE! Incredible!!!

  40. Whitney

    Misty and Kathleen, knowing both of you guys, I love these. As mamas, we’re all warrior, and that’s the connection I feel when I look at these photos. Kathleen, thanks for being up to the collaboration, and Misty, thank you for sharing your vision with us.

  41. Well, those are just otherworldly gorgeous. I am so weary of the heart-hand over the belly – this high-concept shoot is so refreshingly fierce.

  42. Melanie

    Dude…AMAZING! I love this! xo

  43. Megan

    Amazing! Gorgeous photos, Kathleen.

    (And PS: THE BOOBS!)

  44. Natasha

    I see such a celebration of you as a woman, as a warrior, as a mother, as YOU! Your strength, power, individuality and all round awesomeness is just radiating out of my screen right now. LOVE IT!

  45. Sunny

    A fellow Okie and entrepreneur, I have enjoyed the authenticity shared here by Kathleen and the generous way she has exchanged ideas and opened up her own personal experiences with us here. I gather every reader has appreciated the same and perhaps appropriated some of her ideas as their own or, at least, been inspired by them.

    A half Cherokee by birth, I understand the sore history of cultural appropriation. From the greedy gulps of colonization to the cultural farting we now see of models wearing headdresses or military medals – clearly items of reserved honor – and spoofs like a sports team mascot. But where do we draw the line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange while we are all working it out? Where do we start granting a gracious exchange or allowing people to adopt the things that speak to their own soul or beliefs? How about those of us who do have bloodline attachments to some of these symbols and outward expressions of it? I think it can be summed up in one word: Respect. I love what Jarune Uwujaren proposes: In order for it to be an exchange rather than appropriation, we just need to give it “some element of mutual understanding, equality, and respect.” Otherwise, we could end up policing every person eating a burrito, sporting a tattoo, or wearing moccasins.

    Doesn’t it really all come down to finding our similarities rather than our differences? I don’t have it all figured out. But I do appreciate the spirit of respect, exchange, and generosity I’ve found in Kathleen’s blog and Braid. Thank you, Kathleen and Misty, for being vulnerable here. And a big congrats on embracing fierce motherhood, a culture shared across the board!

    Maybe in the vein of Nelson Mandela’s legacy we can attempt a bigger message of unity rather than apartheid.

    (And in the vein of respect and exchange, I borrowed from Jarune’s thoughts here: http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/hesaid-whats-the-difference-between-cultural-exchange-and-cultural-appropriation/#!o1Fqs)

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  47. never cease to amaze me kathleen :) so awesome!

  48. Steph

    Bravo! I think these images are beautiful.

  49. You look beautiful! I love the gold eye makeup. I also love how you’ve honored your heritage- rock on! : )

  50. Kate Ings

    Can I just mention the fringed leather jacket? I’m obsessed.

    • It’s my moms from the ’70s! She gave it to me when I was in high school – it’s SO heavy and was way too big for me then but I wore it every day.

  51. Jen

    Wow Kathleen, these photos are stunning, beautiful and very you. I appreciate how fearless you are and these photos are a visual example of your bravery. So cool!

  52. Becky

    BADASS.

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  54. These are by far the most uh-mazing maternity photos I’ve ever seen! You look incredibly beautiful and authentic. …and badass. You’re going to be such a badass mom.

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