BICOASTAL x CHENOA MAXWELL

We were fortunate to meet this dynamic photographer, life coach, and TV personality when she was looking for models to test!
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We are so happy we got to sit and chat with her, see our interview below!
BICOASTAL: How did you get into photography?
CHENOA: I’ve always been into photography-as a little girl my father was a photographer and I was always captivated by his work. My original goal was to be a cinematographer and then acting took off.  After being an actress, I realized I was not authentically fulfilled with it. NY had been a great hub for acting-it was really about the craft and being an actor, but when I went into film in LA the culture was so different. My intention was to be an actor, not a product… it took some of the joy out of it.  I realized what I wanted in my heart was to study photography.  I wanted a fresh start, so I moved to London and studied at St. Martin Central College of Art.
BICOASTAL: What inspires you in a model?
CHENOA: Obviously beauty. But a lot of models are really beautiful but they don’t have body confidence or body knowledge.  But when a women really knows her body and is confident and knows how to move that is inspiring.  It is really frustrating to work with models with no body awareness.  You have to know how it feels to shift from pose to pose-you need to know your self, and be confident and bring that to a shoot.
BICOASTAL: How do you feel about the plus model movement?
CHENOA: I think it is very important to show women of every size-it’s important for our culture.  Everyone has a bad angle and a good angle. You need to have a photographer who can focus on your good angle. We should celebrate women of all sizes-we are all beautiful.
BICOASTAL: You have great diversity in your work! Do you find inspiration every where?
CHENOA: My inspiration comes from people. I have a real interest in people. When I sit and watch them, I understand how I can make them feel great in front of my lens. Most people don’t really love themselves, they pretend that they do, but when you get below the mask, they don’t really.  I find that as I travel the world, and from culture to culture; I like to inspire them to see and feel their beauty, and bring it out, and make them comfortable being photographed.
There is a shift in society now; it’s powerful but also dangerous.  People have their own camera-they can take a selfie, use a filter, make the image they want. But when they walk out in the street, and have to really connect, or be a model, people are more timid I find then they used to be because they are not in control of their image.
Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.08.59 AMBICOASTAL: You are no stranger to being in front of the camera-how does that shape who you are as a photographer? What advice would you give someone starting out with modeling or acting?
CHENOA: It gives me an edge-anything in life that you can talk from experience from helps the person in front of you feel more confident.  I understand what it is like to be the model-so I want to help people feel comfortable.  To me that is how you get the best image. Let’s get you feeling great about yourself!  As an actor, I wanted the director to direct me-I was wondering- “am I giving you what you want?”  It’s a collaboration.  You continue to help the person evolve-don’t leave them feeling bad or with their confidence shattered. I don’t ever want to do that to my models or subjects.  Everyone has an off day.
BICOASTAL: You are no stranger to being in front of the camera-how does that shape who you are as a photographer? What advice would you give someone starting out with modeling or acting?
CHENOA: With modeling, the advice I would give is make sure you have your self confidence and self love all the way up high.  If you are going to be your best self, and kill the game, you have to be self aware, sexy, present, mindful, and connected. If you don’t have that inside yourself you can’t project that.  You need to start with it-self love and self confidence. If you don’t have it you have to find it. That is why I teach classes-often beautiful women can be the most shattered because they are expected to be beautiful and perfect so one flaw (which is not really a flaw) can weigh more heavily.  Or people don’t take your feelings or negative self worth emotions seriously because you are perceived as perfect. You have to have self confidence and self love to counter that.
With acting, I always tell people to make sure this is what you want to do forever, and get your business game up. It is not personal, you are a product, get your business game up and hone in on that.
BICOASTAL: Tell me about Live Limitlessly?  What were the first steps to creating this?
CHENOA: Live limitlessly came from being on the O channel doing a show called Love in the City.  It came at a time when I was most challenged as an adult, trying to have a child for 3 years, in and out of surgeries, spending thousands of dollars, and my marriage was crumbling. And I had to show up every day doing a Docuseries about my life.  I felt sad and alone, and I didn’t have an opportunity to do anything but show up every day and do my job. When I finished I realized I had built up an immunity-I had to show up and activate, instead of really deal with my pain.  I had a really, really bad childhood… at 15 I tried to kill myself and it brought me to a 2 month program to determine what I needed.  I was paired with an incredible doctor who loved me like I had never been loved before and she helped ChenoaMaxwell_ThePhotographer.jpgme build my confidence, realize nothing was my fault, and I went from being suicidal to a star.  So I remembered those tools, like when things are bad, shut everything down, quiet the world, and get into your own personal power.  I call it dating yourself. When you take control of yourself and your life, and hone in on yourself, take a personal journey, you can transform.  I took 30 days to date myself-and within 2 weeks, people I would see just bumping into on the street would say “wow, what have you been doing!?” There was a physical difference.  If I could go from a suicidal teenager with an abusive home to a star, I believe anyone can do it-you have to live limitlessly. I posted a challenge on Instagram- asking who wanted to join me in my self love experience?  Over 3,000 people joined me from Germany to South Africa and I saw that people needed this.  I knew people needed it but I didn’t realize how many people needed it.  So now I want to focus on helping others; it is woman focused but it is a people project.  It grew organically-it just naturally developed.  I built myself with these fundamental tools that I know work; and it doesn’t take a lot of time to transform.  It is why I do these sessions.  People go to therapy for years and years, but this can work quickly.
BICOASTAL: How do bring love into your work and your every day life-and how has that awareness changed your life?
CHENOA: That’s a great question, I make sure I am surrounded by things I love. You have to cut the crap, cut the negativity, take away everything that takes away your power.  You have to be committed to love- love is a spiritual groove. If you want to be in the presence of your spiritual power-than you have to be that. Be love in every single aspect of your life. Give an argument love, it changes it.  Every way you can apply it, it changes your life.  I teach kids every month; as a young girl I was reminded to smile.  That smile is a piece of love, it attracts people, it changes your life.  Be a magnet of love, by being love in every single part of your life.  I was at the top of my game, with the best agent, competing with Halle Berry and I chose to walk away from that because it was not built on love.  And if someone does not love you in the way you need to be loved, you need to be able to walk away.  You have to chose what you need-and you have to know it.
To keep up with Chenoa, make sure to check out her website here!
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