Meet Marie. She felt like family………..

We have worked with several clients who decided to do their first session because they lost a significant amount of weight. While on one hand, that accomplishment makes them feel they are ready to take on being in front of a camera, on the other hand, they also feel quite nervous, maybe even scared, due to some repercussions of the weight loss, such as extra skin. They can be fearful to even let us see the skin as we photograph them and fearful that those imperfections will be the center of attention in their photos. But as their photographers, we not only reassure them that we will capture all the perfect angles, but we will assist in helping them find the best outfit to highlight their assets and to downplay any of their trouble spots.

Meet Marie who waited for 4 years before finally deciding to just go for it and book a session.

“I was about to turn 30 and had lost about 145 pounds so I decided why wait any longer?” Marie states. “I was nervous because after losing such a significant amount of weight, I have a lot of extra skin, which bothers me and because of it, well, some things still don’t fit right.”

We scheduled a consult for her prior to her session as we do with all of our clients. It’s an opportunity to break the ice and meet us before the session date which many clients have expressed gratitude for. “It definitely helped getting to know you guys first and finding out we had a lot in common. I talked to you as a friend, it calmed me down.” Marie explains when we asked her thoughts on our consult process.

We reassured her going into her consult and all throughout, that we would be there to assist her in choosing the most amazing outfit for her session. We have a saying “If you look bad, we look bad. We’re not going to let that happen!”

Marie expressed to us that she was surprised at our wardrobe selection:”There was so much vintage and I love that! Plus there was more than I had imagined and so many size ranges!”

After about an hour, we helped Marie work out a few outfits for her selected session package. She was a bit nervous about going outside of her comfort zone when we suggested she try one of the Orchard Corset corsets that we have in our wardrobe paired with a garter. But she tried it on and loved it!

“I felt great! I have some body issues but those outfits made me feel beautiful!” Marie exclaims!

The day of her session came and as I did her makeup and hair we chatted about life, her job, weight loss, what’s important to her such as her wife and daughter and we also laughed ….. a lot! After about an hour and 15 minutes in makeup / hair, we were ready to shoot! She came out of the dressing room a bit shy, but once we finished shooting her first setting, we could tell she was already feeling a boost in confidence. That happens a lot! Watching a woman’s confidence blossom right before our eyes is priceless and knowing that we have a hand in it, always makes us feel so blessed that we have the opportunity to be doing what we do!

“Once it was over and I got to see the pictures I was so proud! I didn’t care who saw (the photos) because I loved what I saw, which had always been hard for me!” Marie expresses what many women express to us, the difficulty to see the bombshell that she really is. “It is very hard for me to look at myself and feel beautiful, probably why I love taking photos of beautiful things, though some things I find beautiful a lot of people do not. Beauty is in the eye of be beholder. After finishing the shoot and getting my sneak peeks, the first one I saw……. I cried. I looked beautiful and sometimes I forget “she” is in there I loved everything

Marie closed her interview with us by sharing her thoughts on something we did for her without even thinking (and had forgotten about, honestly), “I have had body issues my whole life. I still down myself but you two amazing people made me feel so beautiful that day. My wife and I had a “date night” that night and you even touched up my makeup, which you didn’t have to do, just so I could keep it through the night. It meant alot to me. You go out of your way to make people comfortable and treat them more like family than clients. Thank you!”

Joe and I truly believe that we have the best clien…. er…. family in all the world!

Meet Alicia – The Navy Vet

Joe and I were out with our street team at a roller derby bout supporting our local derby team that we sponsor, the Roller Radicals. Our street team was done up in full pin-up fashion from head to foot and they caught the attention of one very outgoing little 4 year old who wanted to do nothing more than dance and pose for them. We were all very smitten with this little lady who had the biggest smile and the most contagious giggle. As we entertained her by cheering and clapping for her posing and dancing, her mom came over, concerned she was bothering us to which we reassured her, she was absolutely no bother but rather adorable! She asked who we were, noticing the pin-up attire, so we handed her a business card, told her a little about us and the rest is history! We ended up meeting a new friend and a client who has made her way to VIP Client status within a year!

Meet Alicia. A Navy veteran serving as an intelligence specialist first class from 2004-2012 and who also deployed from 08-09 in support of operation enduring freedom. She’s very passionate about our country and our freedoms and you hear this when speaking with her.

But she’s more than a veteran. She’s also a mom to two gorgeous kids, Macey and Josh as well as a wife to Jeff, one of the most supportive husbands and also a Navy vet having served for 20 years with 8 deployments.

Like so many of us, life hasn’t always been easy and it still isn’t.

“Before I met Jeff 10 years ago, I went thru a string of bad relationships. From emotional abuse to physical abuse, I lost myself. Along with the stresses of military life, I became very depressed to the point of being hospitalized on multiple occasions.” Alicia explains. “Over the past few years I have been diagnosed with major depression disorder, severe anxiety, PTSD, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I’ve struggled to get past many life events and accept myself for who I am. There have been times where I really hated who I saw in the mirror. I would restrict what I ate, overeat and not care about my health, even self harm. I’ve never been kind to my body. ”

Over the last several years, Alicia began seeing mental health professionals and making a conscious effort to focus on self care. “While I have grown to love myself, I still suffer from physical pain and struggle with depression and anxiety. I’ve learned how to manage my symptoms and get thru the tough days without taking it out on my body.”

We hear it almost on a daily basis, from first time clients – how nerves sometimes consume them or make them question why they booked in the first place. Alicia is certainly no different in that respect.

She explains: “The day of (her session) I was so nervous. I actually thought to myself “what the hell did you sign up for this for? You hate pictures of yourself.” We ended up having a blast and I was beyond happy when we saw the pictures!! I felt amazing having my hair and makeup done in a way that I had never thought of before. I saw myself in a new light and felt as if I left every aspect of myself that I am unhappy with and stepped into a different body.”

Having worked with Alicia a handful of times now, we are able to spot those “tougher” days she mentioned when she walks into the studio. We never make a mention of it unless she brings it up first but even then, that’s not the focus of our conversation. When she leaves her session on those days with a little more sass in her step and a smile on her face, we feel blessed and grateful that we are able to turn someone’s day around with the experience we strive to give while capturing photos of a client who has booked her session for her own unique reason. When asked why she continues to come back, Alicia states matter of factly: “I’ve continued to do these shoots because I like who I see in those photos. I like the confidence I have when I get in front of the camera. It allows me to feel as if I’m a different person – one without pain or anxiety attacks or six hour crying sessions – even if it’s for a short time, the effects are lasting. Now when Jeff tells me I’m beautiful or sexy, I actually believe him. I’ve learned that I kinda like myself way more than I thought I ever could. It’s almost therapeutic. It helps me step out of my body, be someone else for a while and forget my daily struggles. ”

Alicia’s advice to every woman: “Any woman struggling with body image, confidence, personal strengths or weaknesses, feeling “down” about themselves or just as a little treat should do this at least once in their lives. It’s like a spa day only better.”

And that’s a sentiment we couldn’t agree with more!
Look for more sessions from this gal in the near future!

And last but not least, a few behind the scenes shots of Alicia having fun while we do some test shots!

The Act of Giving

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As summer draws to an end, and the holiday season approaches, now is the time to reflect upon the ways in which we can give back to our community. It’s not just large corporations and companies that can pay it forward. As individuals, and as a small business, it feels good to leave our piece of the world a little better than we found it. At Sullivan’s Pin-ups, we want to talk about charitable outreach and what our efforts will be geared toward this holiday season and for the upcoming year of 2017.

In 2013 and 2014, our charitable focus was Toys for Tots. The year that we moved into our studio, we held an open house with a pin-up pageant. We decided then, that in the years to follow, we would hold the pageant annually and incorporate a fundraising element, a way for us to give back to those in need. In 2015, we were able to raise $1,200 for Tracey’s Hope.

Our mission from there on out, was to make the pageant/fundraiser bigger, better and badder with each new year. The beneficiary for 2016 was the Keystone Warriors. The Keystone Warriors Foundation is a Pennsylvania based nonprofit organization that awards grants and scholarships to U.S. military personnel, and their immediate family members, who were Wounded in Action, Killed In Action, or Missing In Action post 9/11 with connections to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We raised a little over $1,700, making this year’s fundraiser our biggest to date. We have decided that the Keystone Warriors will be our beneficiary for 2017 as well.

We insist that at least one, if not more, representatives from the charity are present at our fundraising event. Not only do we want to get to know the people behind the organization we are supporting, but we feel it’s important that everyone attending is confident that the money is going to the charity we say it is. The charity leaves that day with the cash in hand, using the funds however they wish to further their cause.

24 8W8A2911 As of this year, Sullivan’s Pin-ups has committed to supporting/raising money for our troops, particularly veterans. Local organizations that support our troops will be our chosen beneficiaries for all future fundraising endeavors. We feel strongly about supporting those who have fought for our freedom. It is our duty as Americans to do everything we can to see they have their needs met, no matter how big or small. These men and women laid their lives on the line for our country.

In Pennsylvania alone, there is just under 940,000 veterans residing in our state based on a 2014 report from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. According to a research study by the RAND Corporation, there are about 2.7 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (compared to 2.6 million veterans who fought in Vietnam). Looking into it further, some of the statistics we found surrounding homelessness and veterans were shocking.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, it was noted that the number of homeless veterans in America estimated at 49,933 as of January 2014. About one-third of homeless veterans were stationed in a war zone at some time. Two-thirds of homeless vets served their country for at least three years. Poverty, lack of support from groups or networks, and substandard housing puts about 1.4 million veterans at risk for homelessness. More than 40,000 homeless vets receive compensation or pension benefits each month, but that’s not enough to find affordable housing. More than 50% of homeless veterans suffer from disabilities.
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Our military men and women return from overseas and face many challenges integrating back into civilian life after sacrificing their lives to protect and serve our country, our freedom, and our lives. Some come home with wounds both seen and unseen. We believe every individual is capable of making a difference in the lives of our soldiers. We choose to give back by supporting the organizations that provide our veterans with the help they need and grant them access to available resources. Sullivan’s Pin-ups wants to show our appreciation for all that our service men and women have done for our country.

This winter, we will be hosting a super fun event on Saturday, December 3 with the intent of turning the studio into a drop-off center for the collection of new or gently used coats that will be donated to the Homeless Veterans Center in downtown Scranton. Please stay tuned for more details!

And please remember, we offer a military discount for those who are in the military or those who are the spouse of someone who is. They can be active duty or a veteran.

Sullivans Pinups Military Discount

It’s a Shame to Hate Our Bodies

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A study was done by Glamour magazine a few years ago, but the results are just as relevant today as they were in 2011. According to their research team, women have around 13 negative thoughts about their bodies daily. The magazine decided to ask women across the country to note every negative or anxious thought they had about their bodies over the course of one full day. The results were surprising.

A staggering 97% of women admitted to having at least one “I hate my body” moment daily. But there was a disturbing number of women who confessed to having 35, 50 and even up to 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day. Think about that for a second. Up to 100 hateful thoughts about their own bodies every single day.

We can be our harshest critics. In an instant, our inner ‘mean girl’ rears her judgmental head when we take a look at ourselves in the mirror. That inner voice: she’s always judging, always disapproving, always there to remind us that we’re not good enough. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

I’m so fat.
I hate my thighs.
I wish I had a flatter stomach.
Look at my nose.
My teeth are so crooked.
I wish I could look like her.
If only I could change this about myself – I’d be so much prettier, so much happier.

Every woman alive is gorgeous. This is why we are called “individuals”. We are not born to fit into a certain mold or body type. You need to own your body. And more importantly, love it. It’s time to bury the idea of perfection. Look at yourself and say, “I am beautiful.” Why? Because you are! There is only one you in this world. It’s time you start recognizing how wonderful you are. Your blend of traits, personality, and qualities are all unique to you. You are one of a kind.

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Just as you are special in your own way, so is every other girl around you. There are no exceptions. Every woman alive deserves the right to be and feel beautiful. She is allowed to be comfortable and confident in her own skin without having to worry about what others will say about her body. Body shaming goes both ways.

Back in mid-July, Dani Mathers, a Playboy model, faced public backlash after fat shaming a naked woman in the gym by posting a photo of her on her Snapchat Story. She shared an image of the unsuspecting woman along with a photo of her hand covering her face with the caption: “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either!”

In an article published in the Daily Mail, it was noted that Mathers responded with this statement: “I chose to do what I do for a living because I love the female body and I know body shaming is wrong, that’s not what I’m about and this is not the type of person I am. The photo was taken as part of a personal conversation with a girlfriend and because I am new to Snapchat I didn’t realize I had posted it, and that was a huge mistake.” Well Ms. Mathers, whether it was meant to be public or private, it’s still body shaming.

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We need to stop this. Right now.

We are not here for a competition. It’s time to be kind to ourselves and to be kind to each other. We need to embrace our differences and appreciate them. Look in the mirror and tell yourself what you love. If you notice something you love about a woman you see, let her know! Let’s build each other up instead of knocking one another down. It is an empowering thing to witness women appreciating women, the ability to recognize our differences and fall in love with the uniqueness of us all. But the ability to recognize these things in others means we must first be able to recognize it within ourselves. We must love from the inside out.

We have to have confidence that we are good enough. Whether we set goals for ourselves and meet them, exceed them, or take longer than expected to reach them. Even if we never reach them, we need to stop considering it a failure. Life is about the journey and the process. Our mission is to glean from every success as well as every failure the life lessons hidden within. Whether you see it or not, you’ve changed in the process. And change is growth. No matter what you look like, no matter what you feel like. Strong is sexy. Skinny is sexy. Curvy is sexy. Being different is sexy. Being you is sexy.

If we find ourselves judging others, shaming others, what does that really say? We all have our own life, our own journey, and our own self-image. We have a right to stay the same or the right to change just as long as we are treating our bodies with love and care in whatever way it works for us.

You can accept who you are right in this moment and still choose to make changes. Or, you can choose not to. That’s the beauty of it. It’s all up to you. And if you do it, do it for no one else but you and love yourself through the process. Remember, every woman has an inner bombshell. Sometimes, you just need a little help dusting her off from the standards placed upon us from society and the media.

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Introducing Our New Bloggess!

I am a writer. I have been since I was eleven years old. It all started thanks to the movie Harriet the Spy. Michele Trachtenberg was my spirit animal. After I watched it a dozen times, maybe more, my dad decided to buy me a bundle of journals, a few pens, and honestly, I haven’t slowed down since. That was 1996. So, when Bonnie and Joe approached me with this opportunity, I seized it.

I too, have a love and appreciation for photography and the creative process. I’ve been following Sullivan’s Pin-Up Photography ever since I mustered up the metaphorical balls to do a boudoir shoot with them years ago. I instantly became a fan of their work. I’ve shot with them many times since then. Because of that, and also for a million and one other reasons both professionally and personally, they became my close friends.

Can I do what they do behind the camera? Hell no! I can only step in front of it from time to time and give it my all. I leave the rest to them. They’re the professionals. But in saying that, I have also been following along close enough to see their passion for both photography and the pinup/boudoir world. I’ve picked their brains about every aspect of the business. Because when people are passionate about what they do, I want to know all about it. I’m the kind of person that falls in love with the stories of those who love what they do.

Which is why this is going to work perfectly. They know my passion for writing. I write professionally, I write creatively, I write leisurely, I write to inspire, and I write to learn and build upon the craft on a personal level. All of the above, yes please! So, my job is to take their passion, their ideas, their experiences, their lessons, and the personal and professional side of pinup photography through the lens of Sullivan’s Pin-Ups and go forth to weave a magical web of words in the form of a blog.

Photography is art. Written word is art. And we are joining forces to bring you the ultimate blog reading experience. Each post you see here is the brainchild of the Sullivans’. Like a puzzle, they hand over the pieces to me and I work to build the finished product. So, hello there ladies and gentleman! I am Stephanie Santore. And I am beyond excited to be the wordsmith behind the Sullivan’s Pin-Up Photography blog. I swear to you, they only let me out of the strait jacket to write, then it goes right back on. I don’t bite… too hard.