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Photographer Shannon Spadaro-Waring Wants to Prove Hunting Can Be Girly (NSFW)

Photographer Shannon Spadaro-Waring Wants to Prove Hunting Can Be Girly (NSFW)
Photo by: Shannon Spadaro Waring

South Florida resident Shannon Spadaro-Waring leads a pretty normal life. Wife, mother, and artist, Spardaro-Waring lives with her husband and sons in Homestead, where she relishes a bloody hobby: hunting.

"What I'm trying to explain is that [hunting] still can be a very feminine thing, a very girly thing," she said. "My gun sock is pink; I've made it my own so it blends in with how I am."

Spadaro-Waring's detractors inspired "Huntress," a series of provocative photos juxtaposing extreme femininity and graphic images of guns and the dead animals that the photographer hunts. Now, she's promoting her work and her message -- that women, regardless of their appearance, deserve as much respect in the hunting world as men -- on a Facebook page called Venus Hunts.

A longtime photographer and makeup artist, Spadaro-Waring was introduced to hunting by her husband and his family, gradually learning how to properly handle guns and hunt on her own. As she grew to love the sport, Spadaro-Waring found that a lot of people were less than accepting of a woman's involvement in the male-dominated practice.

"Everyone kind of thinks it's ridiculous, except for my husband," she said. "I've got my long, fake fingernails and I'm all glammed up sitting in a treestand for hours. People usually don't believe it, and I think it's definitely because of the way I look and the photography I do."

Photographer Shannon Spadaro-Waring Wants to Prove Hunting Can Be Girly (NSFW)
Photo by: Shannon Spadaro Waring

An admirer of photographers like Dave LaChapelle and Cindy Sherman, Spadaro-Waring studied photography at Miami's New World School of the Arts and the Maryland Institute College of Art. After returning to Homestead, she started a small photography business, Venus Photography, around 2001. The business and Spadaro-Warring's pin up-style photographic work did well, but soon marriage and motherhood became her focus.

"My work just kind of stopped for a while," she said. "I'm trying to get back into it now and concentrate on my artwork. Nothing was inspiring me for years, basically because I was busy being a mom. I just got out of the treestand for four hours one day and the whole series came to my head."

 

The Huntress series consists of six photographs of Spadaro-Waring, dressed in a self-made corseted gown with intense makeup as she poses with gun and deer guts in hand. In addition to wanting to show the possible femininity in hunting, the series was inspired by Spadaro-Waring's rocky first marriage.

"I was in a very abusive marriage. When I got into the hunting with my current husband, it was something that gave me my power back as a woman," she said. "It just made me feel like this was something I can do that he says I can't do, or other guys say I can't do, or another woman says I can't do. I think that's why I ran with it so much."

Photographer Shannon Spadaro-Waring Wants to Prove Hunting Can Be Girly (NSFW)
Photo by: Shannon Spadaro Waring

Spadaro-Waring hopes the images will spark a conversation about women who hunt, specifically that they should be respected regardless of how they present themselves. She thinks the late 2013 controversy over hunter and TV host Melissa Bachman's photo with a dead lion can be attributed to the woman's looks.

"I don't necessarily support her, but there was a huge uproar about it, and it's all kind of barreling down to the fact that she's female because men are doing the same thing," she said. "I don't think it necessarily matters what you look like, I think being female is more of a problem. But the world is visual. They just are. I think sometimes it's a little harder for a female that does put that work and effort into the way she looks and is kind of discriminated on. I truly believe that."

Regardless of her views on women in hunting and the art world, Spadaro-Waring doesn't consider herself of her work feminist.

"I support women's rights 100 percent. I just don't like the label," she said. "When I was in college and I was pulling out a lot of this pin-up work, I had a lot of problems with women that considered themselves feminist. They weren't always very supportive of what I did because my cleavage was showing and I had a lot of makeup on, or I was wearing high heels and a little cute outfit. I don't like the term. I don't like being labeled anything. The only thing I like to be labeled is a female, a woman, and a mother."

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