The stunningly beautiful, Lizz.
It’s a tough, tough world. That’s just common knowledge. But there are little joys that can make a huge difference in someone’s world. This past weekend I witnessed just how big of a confidence boost a lovely photograph can be. Let me not belabor too long then, with a brief intro of how I got into pin-up myself. Or you can just skip to paragraph four. I won’t be offended.
I have always loved pin-up, though when I was younger I didn’t know there was a name or genre for it. I have always loved photos of women who are confident and beautiful. I looked up to them. I remember seeing a tacked up poster in my grandfather’s weight lifting room, of Mac Snap-On tools girls (probably a vintage seventies item now), holding up only automobile floor mats over their curves to leave something to the imagination. It never once occurred to me that these women were “objectified.” All I saw were pretty women who looked happy and confident. Now, I am very aware that’s not going to be everyone’s response. I’m also very aware that I was a child and didn’t know much about how the world worked. I wasn’t totally out of it though, I knew the purpose of those ads. However, I was fortunate to grow up in a home where women were respected and I never felt less because of my gender, size, or appearance in any way. On the other hand, I also saw a lot of posters, growing up around garages, of scantily clad women in bad eighties lingerie looking like Mötley Crüe groupies. I realized at about age seven, that there was a difference in perspective, and how these images could be classy or raunchy, and also where and when there was a place for them.
Me, creeping behind the scenes. That couch, though! Can I take it home?
So, that interest grew as I got older. It blossomed as a teen, learning about artists like George Petty and Alberto Vargas, and later in my college years, modern artists like Coop (Chris Cooper) and Olivia De Berardinis. I found Victorian beauties and WWII beauties. From Ziegfeld Follies and Charles Dana Gibson to Betty Grable. I had a genuine interest in pin-up style, but I still didn’t understand there was a following for it yet. As the years passed, I realized that the outside world didn’t appreciate as well, the curves and lovely natural form of the female body, as much as the retro pin-up world does. That’s why I’m happy to see publications like Retro Lovely, and new models on the horizon (Tess Holiday for example) who aren’t society’s ideal, per-say, but are beautiful, confident women.
I’m an “adult” now, whatever the hell that is. And I’ve made it my business to be involved in the pin-up and retro world. I draw pin-up girls, I use retro imagery in my art, and my father pin-stripes handbags for gals into that subculture. Occasionally, I model a handbag. Though I don’t model on a professional level, I’ve always had a great respect for those who do. So when I was invited by my dear friend Lizz (my daughter calls her, “Miss Lizz”), to accompany her to a photo shoot with the folks from Retro Lovely magazine, I was of course, ecstatic. She wanted to use some of our handbags as props, and was also looking for a bit of that old-fashioned moral support. Interestingly, I’d found out that her MUAH (that’s, “make up and hair”) gal was the same woman I’d been speaking to about our Grease and Grace ad in Kat Club magazine. What a wild coincidence —I’m so there.
We took the jaunt from Lancaster and Berks counties to Ashland, Pa. I’m fairly familiar with the beautiful, hilly mountain views along the way, as I have friends just north of the area. We arrived, hoping like mad that we had the right building. Nervous and giddy we knocked on the door. After a few minutes a very jovial and burly man answers, “Hello! I’ll be doing your make up and hair today!” he proclaimed in an excitable voice.
Wait, what? So we followed him up the tall steps, bags of clothing and purses in arms.
That very fun man turned out to be Al, the husband of Heather, who was also having a photo shoot done that same evening. It turns out that Nicole Zedonek, (MUAH, see her Facebook: Making Faces Professional Make Up), had ten back to back clients that day. I know some folks who do makeup, some who are photographers, and some who are models. This is hard work, and a real labor of love. These people really love what they do, with a passion. So Al showed us to the prep area and on the way through we saw some set rooms. These were decorated in full on vintage kitsch, ready for a girl to pose at any moment. Lizz and I were drooling over the classic decor. There was this awesome cat too. It was trying to compete with ‘grumpy cat.’ I forget it’s name, but he was mad, and I think angry cats are quite cute.
Angry retro cat
The atmosphere was fun from the get-go. We brought along a bottle of a bright pink booze called, “Bitch Bubbly” and cracked that open. We settled ourselves in, and everyone was joking and talking. It was relaxed. I can’t stress that enough. The photography happens in a separate room and floor altogether from the styling. There is privacy for changing, if you want it, and when models are switching costumes or need props, everyone jumps to assist. It’s an environment of friends you just didn’t know you had. I watched Lizz, who is a hairstylist by trade, get her hair done by someone else for a change. It was wonderful to see her pampered. This is about feeling good about yourself. About loving yourself and seeing yourself in that beautiful light that the rest of the world sees, but sometimes you can’t.
Behind the scenes make up and hair by Nicole Zedonek, Making Faces Professional Make Up
It was great to see Al there in such loving support of his gorgeous wife. That’s a man! Heather was using some of her photographs to support Pinups for Patriots.
And there was Kimberly, doing a photo shoot for her fiance. What a wonderful idea! They were having fun, we were having fun, everyone we met that night – you guessed it, fun. No pretension. No heirs of holier than thou. No ‘Pin-Up Queen’ attitude. Just women supporting women. People supporting people.
We met Michael F. Bann, when it was time for Lizz’s shoot. Photographer, publisher, and creator of Retro Lovely (see his Facebook page: Victor Devilbliss), I must admit, I was nervous. Big time guy, oh, boy! Well, I got over that. Nice people, all of them. Down to earth, relaxed, professionals. Have I stressed that enough? I’m saying it because I know that if you have never had a professional photo shoot, you’re probably nervous and may have inhibitions. Don’t.
Behind the scenes with Michael Bann, Victor Devil Bliss photography
There was a wonderland of props galore. I was like a kid in a candy shop looking around. Nicole and I were hanging out while Lizz posed, such a natural thing. We all got her props to use and brainstormed fun scenarios for her. She looked amazing. My friend from way back in high school, looking like the rock star I know she is. The important thing about this kind of photography is, you look like you. You shouldn’t look like a made up version of an unrecognizable person. It’s you, clearly you, at your best and most confident.
Michael is amazing, he makes it look easy, taking photos as fluidly as a knife through butter. “Like buttah.” He’s fast, he’s all over the place, and he isn’t harsh in his direction. Everything is a gentle lead, leaving the model feeling in control and safe.
We met Lottie Beauverd as well, what a gal! Lottie was helping with outfit changes and pose ideas. It takes a village, and this village was filled with great folks. Lottie has a shop selling wonderful hair accesories. You can find her at Sled Fest this year in Duncannon, Pa.
You can see how much laughter there was on set!
Nicole tells me that she gets women who are interested, but hesitant, saying, “I want to do pin-up, but I’m too ______”, fill in the blank. Too skinny, too fat. Too old, too young. Too this, too that. But the fact is, when women leave their photo shoots here, they are happy with the results. They have a new-found boost in self-image. And that is why pin-up is for everyone. Including you, yes you.
Lizz says this of the experience, “I think that everyone should do this once. Pin-up is for everyone.” You should always listen to “Miss Lizz.”
But here’s what you really want to see, more awesome photos. These are raw, eventually I’ll update this post with finals, but they are so perfect strait off the camera, who cares?
Stunning Lizz, rocking some gorgeous clothing and posing with some of our handbags.
This dress available from Angry, Young & Poor.
The beautiful Kim, in her fiance’s jersey, how cute is this?
Very vintage looking Heather, posing with an amazing vintage compact/cigarette case.
Following images, Heather pulling some bombshell poses in Al’s uniform.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the stunning, Al!
Special mention, please check out these links that we support.
Lizz is a member of several charity groups, one of which is The Modified Dolls.
The Modified Dolls is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Illinois. We have affiliated chapters and building chapters all over the world. The goal of The Modified Dolls and our chapters is to erase the negative stereotypes associated with modified women by doing charity work. We provide fundraising, volunteerism and awareness to pre-selected Charities of the Month as well as other organizations selected by individual chapters. We are the Different Making A Difference! Facebook
The charity for March 2015 is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. As a sufferer of MS myself, I fully support this!
Heather supports Pinups for Patriots.
Pinups for Patriots LLC is a for-profit social good company. We work to raise funds for charities supporting our nation’s military & first responders. Facebook
Lizz’s leopard print dress is available from Angry, Young and Poor
The pin-striped handbags from us, Grease and Grace!
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