Julie Loen & Ingvild Eiring

All the Things a Woman Oughtn’t Do

The Ballad of Zerelda Glanton



Before I wanted to be a photographer I wanted to be a fighter pilot. My Barbie doll had a green overall and a pink helmet that made up her pilot costume. I could care less about the pink princess dress and high heels she came with in the box. I never wanted to be a princess. I wanted to do all the cool and dangerous stuff the boys get to do.

When I did the first Zerelda shoot in 2013 I had been busy working on my debut novel (the first in a western series, with a badass anti-heroine in the lead) for a couple of years. I had lost interest in fashion photography and was tired of doing shoots just to fill up my portfolio. But I wasn't tired of working with Ingvild, and doing a bigger theme-based project that would culminate in a book was enthusing.

It was important to keep the project doable and fun. Fun is easy with Ingvild. We are good friends and share a very similar taste in art, so working with her is a doozy. She slipped into the role as Zerelda like it was no one's business. Doable simply meant finding most locations in Lommedalen, the valley I live in.

Authenticity was also important to us - to create a cowgirl character that is more than just a clichéd sex symbol. The look of the Polaroid certainly adds some grit to it, but that is merely superficial after all. Most of the shoots I've done with Ingvild have been nude or semi nude. We wanted to bring "our thing" to Zerelda too, but how do you make a cowgirl who is naked under her chaps look like she can rustle a herd? You keep it real - with real leather chaps, a real live horse and real guns.

Zerelda doesn't pose. She doesn't smile at the camera with her hips just so. A lasso rests in her glove-clad hands while she peers across the plains. Her chest might be bare, but her hat is squared low on her head, shading her eyes. Zerelda is my new Barbie doll. She is cool and courageous and does whatever the hell she feels like.


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