Every once in a while you meet a special person with a phenomenal story. Vanessa Goosen is just such a woman, having spent over 16 harrowing years in a Thai jail after being framed for drug trafficking. We first met in February 2011 (just a few months after she was released) for an insert that O Magazine SA had commissioned me to write about her. Struck by the fact that this lovely former beauty queen, who had been a Miss South Africa semi-finalist, had been deprived of photographs for so much of her adult life, I was moved to shoot a modelling portfolio for her.
Despite all that time in prison, Vanessa was still beautiful – tall, poised and a treat to photograph. If you’ve read her book Drug Muled, you’ll have discovered one of those photos there. If not, follow that link for a taste of the riveting content that it contains. Her journey has been fraught with challenges, not only in jail (including giving birth to her daughter there, under horrific conditions) but also in terms of adapting to life after incarceration, but her profound faith has remained a steadfast source of support and inspiration throughout.
This has led to her spending much of her time now engaged in public speaking, motivational talks and outreach programs, radiating her own light and inspiration to others. Further to our previous meeting, I was delighted to have the opportunity to do another studio shoot with Vanessa recently, this time for the cover pic of the Woman of Faith magazine, which is due to launch next month. We had lots of fun in our studio again, together with Vanessa’s fabulous husband Rupert, who contributed a whole lot to the shoot through his ideas and interaction with her.
Smashbox sponsored her professional make-up, which was applied by gorgeous artist Nono (pictured above doing a touch-up on Vanessa) and her hair was beautifully styled by a friend. The selected cover photo remains under wraps but look out for it, and for an update of Vanessa’s inspiring story. You’re also welcome to contact us if you have any questions or requirements for a photo shoot of your own. We’d be happy to assist.