Painfully Stylish

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After many years of photographing weddings, I have definitely photographed my share of ladies shoes. One of the first things I do when I arrive in the Bride’s room is look for her shoes and for an interesting way to photograph them, since they are an important detail of the day.  I quickly learned to appreciate a beautifully designed, well-crafted pair of Jimmy Choo’s, Chanel’s, or “Crissy Lou’s”…..that’s Christian Louboutin’s to the uninitiated.  I will always prefer to photograph people rather than objects, but I do still sort of cross my fingers and hope for an interesting pair of heels when I arrive for a wedding, if only because heels allow shoes to be hung on chairs, picture frames, Ivy, and so on to make an interesting image. One thing I noticed that all of these tall heels have in common is that they seldom stayed on the Bride’s feet for very long after the ceremony – they just look better than they feel. Apparently.

When I first came across the work of artist May Y. Cheung Hoffman, her shoe sculptures literally stopped me in my tracks. For a second I had to ask myself if a woman could actually wear her pieces, but it was clear that her shoe sculptures are designed to make a statement about fashion, not a fashion statement. May was influenced by her great-grandmother, who’s feet were bound in China as part of the ancient tradition. This inspiration, along with her own experience in maintaining appearances for professional reasons, led May to create pieces that  illustrate the kind of pain women often endure in the name of  style. The name of her collection is Painfully Stylish, and her pieces have been shown at the Municipal Gallery in Esondido and FeeLit, in the city of San Diego. Here is a sampling of the work I completed last week for May, documenting her pieces before they are sold. In my opinion, even photographs of her work are compelling.


“Hard Wear”


“Domestic Torture”





“Silver Piranha”



“Snow Angel”


“Zip Tied”


“Red Riding Hood”


“Purple Pain”


“Prisoner of Style”


I shot a few images of this piece on grey, and more in the style I prefer to shoot for myself with more selective focus.

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