Skip to main content

CNN Exclusive: Photos show Reeva Steenkamp's transformation

From Robyn Curnow, CNN
updated 1:45 PM EDT, Mon June 3, 2013
A young Reeva Steenkamp poses for a set of photographs taken by her schoolfriend Kerry Smith on the beach at Port Elizabeth, South Africa. A young Reeva Steenkamp poses for a set of photographs taken by her schoolfriend Kerry Smith on the beach at Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
HIDE CAPTION
Reeva: From law student to cover girl
Reeva: From law student to cover girl
Reeva: From law student to cover girl
Reeva: From law student to cover girl
Reeva: From law student to cover girl
Reeva: From law student to cover girl
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pictures show Reeva Steenkamp as aspiring model and established cover girl
  • Friend and photographer says early images show Steenkamp's "natural beauty"
  • Later picture shows Steenkamp's very personal tattoo, "Only God will judge me"
  • Steenkamp shot dead by boyfriend Oscar Pistorius; he says he mistook her for intruder

(CNN) -- Newly revealed photographs of Reeva Steenkamp show the South African beauty as a young aspiring model, and as a star cover girl, just months before her tragic death.

One group of images, taken by Reeva's friend Kerry Smith eight years before her death, show the then 21-year-old law student and modeling wannabe posing on the beach at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where she grew up -- and where her grieving parents scattered her ashes.

Her dark hair, freckles and innocent good looks are a world away from the shots of a bikini-clad Reeva featured in glossy magazines which millions around the world are now familiar with.

"That's Reeva in her natural beauty," Smith said. "Not a stitch of makeup on. Hair blowing in the wind with the sea behind her, sun setting behind her."

Pistorius: One year later
Steenkamp crime scene pictures published
Reeva Steenkamp's transformation

That's a view of the model shared by another photographer, Gareth Barclay, who took a series of pictures of Reeva in the months before her death.

These photos, said to have been commissioned by Steenkamp for an unidentified "special someone," show a Reeva who is -- outwardly at least -- very different: Blonde, confident, worldly and polished.

"Most of the photos that I took of her aren't even edited," Barclay said. "That's just how she is, you know.

"That's just a simple color grading that I put on it to give an effect or a mood, but I mean, her skin was always great, beautiful eyes, beautiful features."

Steenkamp, 29, died last year on February 14 -- Valentine's Day. She was shot dead in the bathroom of the home she shared with Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius.

Pistorius insists her death was an accident, that he opened fire after mistaking her for an intruder. Prosecutors disagree: his murder trial starts on March 3.

His family said the loss of his girlfriend -- and his involvement in her death -- has devastated the athlete.

"It's a terrible, terrible mistake he made," his uncle Arnold Pistorius told CNN.

"I can just image the family of Reeva, the grief they've got and most probably anger, and you know this is a traumatic experience for them and I can't even imagine myself being in that position."

Another of Barclay's pictures shows the tattoo on Reeva's neck: The phrase "Only God will judge me," written in Italian.

"It was very personal to her," said Barclay. "She never really spoke about it or anything, she just wanted a personal photo of it, 'cause, you know, she didn't have any photos of it."

For Steenkamp, this tattoo represented something central to her life, something to be defined by.

"That was something that her grandfather had always said, you know," explained Smith. "It was very close to her own heart."

Pistorius, though, will be judged in a Pretoria courtroom.

READ: Intimate photos show Oscar Pistorius, Reeva Steenkamp before her death

READ: Who was Reeva Steenkamp?

READ: Who is 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius?

CNN's Bryony Jones contributed to this story.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Oscar Pistorius
updated 4:31 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Judge Masipa has Oscar Pistorius stand up as she reads her verdicts.
updated 12:08 PM EST, Sun February 16, 2014
The photos of Oscar Pistorius and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp appear to show a young couple in love.
updated 1:45 PM EDT, Mon June 3, 2013
Reeva Steenkamp on the beach in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Previously unseen photographs of Reeva Steenkamp show the South African beauty just months before her tragic death.
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Sat September 13, 2014
The striking, platinum-haired model was gearing up for her reality television debut.
updated 5:28 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Her name is Thokozile Matilda Masipa, and she is the woman who will decides the fate of athlete Oscar Pistorius.
updated 5:21 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
A week before her death, South African model Reeva Steenkamp talked about her secure, blissful environment.
updated 4:13 AM EST, Mon March 3, 2014
He was the first amputee to compete at an able-bodied Olympics. Now, he's being accused of murdering his girlfriend.
updated 1:39 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria home last year.
updated 7:31 AM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
The prosecution and defense have made their cases, and now Judge Thokozile Masipa must decide: Was it murder?
updated 12:02 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
Oscar Pistorius' defense used the final day of closing arguments to painstakingly go through a timeline of the night he killed his girlfriend.
updated 1:39 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
What exactly is Oscar Pistorius charged with and why is he facing a judge rather than a jury trial?
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
CNN's Robyn Curnow looks back at some of the key moments in the trial.
updated 8:24 AM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
CNN's Robyn Curnow reflects on her visit to athlete Oscar Pistorius' home, before he was on trial for murder.
updated 3:44 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Oscar Pistorius' trial is under way again -- take a virtual tour of his apartment to see each side's case.
updated 7:16 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
He was the so-called "Fastest Man on No Legs," and his inspiring story captured the imagination of the world at the London Olympics.
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
Oscar Pistorius was "praying, crying, torn apart," the first person on the scene testified.
updated 5:26 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel is known as the "bull dog" in South Africa's legal circles, and it's easy to see why.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
As the athlete is grilled in court, Becky Anderson asks psychologist Dr. James Thompson about his state of mind.
ADVERTISEMENT