a decade ago, Monique Floyd — also known as King Moe or just Moe — quit her job to photograph women and teach them to take better selfies. She began re-evaluating her life in 2011 when a hysterectomy left her home for 12 weeks. “It was the first time I really had to sit by myself,” says Moe. “And I started to wonder why I live the way I live.”
She had married her high school sweetheart, bought a house in Charlotte, and taken a secure, lucrative job as a 3D piping designer for a company now known as Framatome, which makes parts for steam supply systems in nuclear power plants. But her downtime after surgery gave her a chance to reflect. She was 33, living what others would probably call a dream life – and yet she was miserable.
What followed was the defining period of her life. Moe divorced her husband and moved out on her own. A few months later, she was put on leave from Framatome after 13 years, and she gratefully shook hands with the people who fired her. “I didn’t know what it was yet,” says Moe, “but I knew there was something better out there for me.”
She turned to a childhood hobby. Around the age of 12, Moe got his hands on a 110 film camera. She began taking self-portraits and snapping photos of her younger cousins in styled hair, makeup, and dresses from their mother’s closet. Throughout high school, she was “always the girl with the camera,” she says. But college and adult commitments stifled her creativity until she was single, unemployed and looking for happiness.
Shortly after her divorce, another cousin experienced a brutal breakup. Moe told her to come over and once again found herself passing a cousin and putting her in front of a camera. Moe says they both came alive during this shoot. “It was this wonderful exchange of energy. My cousin said to me, ‘I’ve never seen anyone behind the camera like that.’ And I thought I don’t know what that is, but I like it.”
Moe started asking friends and strangers in cafes to model for her. She took a photography course at The Light Factory Photo Arts Center and hired a business coach. “I’ve developed this implacable belief,” she says, “that what I love and what I want to do with my life can be done.”
Over the next year, Moe developed a niche photography business: self-branded photo shoots for women. She has contracted stylists and makeup artists and booked Airbnbs for the shoots. Most of her clients are women in their 30s and older, who pay between $1,597 and $2,997 for all-inclusive shoots. Many meet Moe through networking groups, and some travel across the country to work with her.
When COVID stopped her shooting, Moe added virtual “Love Your Selfie” classes to her services, teaching women how to take their own photos. The private lessons cost $499 and became so popular that she continued to offer them even after she resumed her personal shoots.
It might seem rampant to pay hundreds of dollars to learn how to take a selfie, but what Moe offers her clients goes beyond the lens. Women come to her when they are going through an illness, divorce or just want to regain their self-confidence. Moe preaches self-love. Think of her as a professional hype woman for women—although her self-imposed nickname, King Moe, rather than Queen Moe, reflects her identification with the masculine and female energy.
“It’s just me reclaiming it all,” she says. “I will do what I want to do, when I want to do it, how I want to do it. And I identify more as a king than a queen. I take back my power.”
Tess Allen is Associate Editor.
Moe’s 3 tips for bombshell selfies
1. Take lots of them.
2. Stand in indirect natural light.
3. Extend your arm fully to get the best framing.