How many people do you know who've hung out with Hugh Hefner and worked in the Playboy Mansion? The focus of this Faces of Kansas City loves Playboy almost as much as she loves the camera lens.
Meet Jodi Vander Woude. She said she finds beauty in every single one of her subjects.
Whether it's at her Kansas City studio in the Crossroads, the plains of Africa or a shopping market in Budapest, photography is her passion.
"And then I found this old lady and I kind of stalked her because she added something to it. But the colors and the light... I can still smell the smells," Vander Woude says of a favorite photo.
As a little girl growing up in Wichita, Vander Woude was infatuated with photography. Her first job after graduating from the University of Kansas was at Playboy Magazine as an art assistant.
"There's a mystique. If you ever meet Hugh Hefner, he is that mystique. He's an icon - he walks with a crowd of people," she said.
After climbing the corporate ladder at Playboy and doing freelance work, she finally got the break she'd been hoping for and became a Playboy photographer, working for Hugh Hefner.
"The last time I met him, I was shooting at the mansion. That was such a great accomplishment for me, to have him come in while I was shooting to meet me and the model. It was like, ‘Wow, this is it! I'm doing it!'" said Vander Woude.
She's one of only two female photographers at Playboy. Once a month, she travels to a different city and photographs dozens of aspiring models at Playboy casting calls. She spent several months in Europe for the "Girls of Ireland" special.
"...and literally drove from town to town photographing the different women of Ireland," said Vander Woude.
The job is indeed glamorous, but it doesn't come without criticism.
"There are still people that say ‘I don't think you should be doing that' - and that's their opinion," she said.
Playboy is just a portion of her world now. Locally, Vander Woude's camera lens focuses on family portraits, baby pictures, or more recently, a shoot with Dana Wright and Scott Parks to promote their new radio talk show.
Vander Woude could have picked any city on the map to open a photography studio, but she chose the Crossroads area in Kansas City where she opened a studio with one of her former college roommates.
"There're artists everywhere. You're in the street and there's another photographer, or a painter, and they all like each other... everybody helps each other. There's a combination of everything in this town," she said.
Click here to find out more on Jodi Vander Woude and her photography.
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