Originally published August 30, 2015 at The Los Angeles Beat
The beauty of Hollywood, as we know it, is in the art of self-creation. It is as much image and artifice as it is talent and grit. The key, my dears, can be found in one truly magical word, and that is CONFIDENCE. Age, weight, stereotypical “beauty” and the like are merely traps that we use against ourselves and each other. If a woman decides to let herself shine, she is five steps ahead of the masses.
With that in mind, extremely talented photographer Carol Sheridan and her exquisitely skilled business partner, makeup artist Stacy Lande, formed Iconic Pinups, a photography company specializing in recreating women as sparkling retro models. Using authentic vintage sets, flawless makeovers and an eye for each woman’s unique inner beauty, anyone, I repeat, anyone– can release her inner Marilyn Monroe. Size doesn’t matter, age doesn’t matter. This is no mall “glamour shot” one-stop-shop. This is art, pure and simple, with a cool, authentic edge.
Both Carol and Stacy have had long careers in their respective fields, and originally became friends in the creative 1990s Silverlake art and music scene. Carol started as a freelance photographer, shooting bands, CD covers, actor’s head shots and the like, while Stacy, a talented painter, had art shows at notable L.A. galleries while creating in the California Low Brow style. A book, The Red Box: The Phantasma-Allegorical Portraits of Stacy Lande was published in 1999 featuring Stacy’s paintings with an introduction written by well-known artist Robert Williams. In 2009 Carol and Stacy decided to merge their gifts and Iconic Pinups was born.
“We feel this is for any woman. For any age, shape, any size. We feel like every woman should have this experience. From regular gal to femme fatal. Everyone is beautiful. I call it inside out…” – Carol Sheridan
“It’s very democratic. Anyone can be a bombshell”- Stacy Lande
The experience of a photo session with these women is as comfortable as it can possibly get. It is truly like hanging out with your girlfriends- laughing, chatting, doing makeup, trying on clothes, and then coming out with some of the most flattering photos you’ve ever had taken. One rule prevails- no men allowed. This includes husbands, boyfriends and prospective lookie-loos. The key is to create a no-pressure, fun and casual environment. Women bring their own wardrobe for their shoot, which can run the gamut from sexy lingerie, fanciful costumes or eclectic vintage pieces. Iconic Pinups additionally has a large selection of wardrobe and props for clients to use during their shoots. There really are no limits to what can be created here.
There is a choice when booking a session: the retro house (Carol’s) or the vintage house (Stacy’s). Both are phenomenal locations, offering dozens of interesting and highly stylized back drops. I chose the retro house for my pin-up experience, mainly lured by a wall entirely covered with vintage album covers, which I found irresistible.
After I arrived and was made comfortable in the make-up chair by Stacy, I was fortunate to meet another client, Titanya Dahlin, who had just finished her session with Carol. She was bubbling over with excitement and smiles, loving her experience. “I did this for myself this time,” she exclaimed, “It’s for my 50th birthday. I thought of a ’50s pin-up shoot as a great idea to look back on this and say, ‘Wow! That’s beautiful!’… It was so much fun! Carol and Stacy made it so comfortable, because the boudoir part I was really nervous about.”
As I began my own transformation from a modern woman into a mid-century model, Stacy told me that the company’s record for their oldest client was about to be broken. They had previously photographed a 72-year-old woman and are about to shoot an 82-year-old. They have captured pivotal moments in women’s lives- sexy photos of a woman about to lose her breasts in a mastectomy, a woman who had lost her leg and wanted “hot” photos of herself and a paraplegic who wanted to capture her beauty on film.
Stacy asked whether I wanted a Victoria’s Secret model look or vintage-inspired makeup, and after selecting the latter I was given the full makeover treatment with alabaster skin, false eyelashes and ruby red lips. My hard-to-curl hair was set with pin curls and transformed into seductive and luscious waves. Carol then took me around to the various backdrops, holding my wardrobe to each as we discussed and picked out what would look the best and be the most fun. I was doing three looks and the combination of options was quite impressive.
After getting into my first look, a 1950s inspired leopard print romper, Carol adroitly guided me through the posing process for each shot, instructing me how to place my legs, point my toes, arch my back or stretch my neck. She imagined each image as she shot it and expertly directed me to make the most of my body and my particular beauty. Holding the poses felt a bit awkward at first, but I knew that she was guiding me from experience and I felt comfortable and did not feel self-conscious. The session moved quickly and as I changed into each new wardrobe selection, Carol and Stacy moved the lighting and equipment to the next set to be ready when I was changed.
After the session was finished and I was back in my street clothes, I sat down with Carol at her computer to review my images. I was stunned by the artistry and the originality. Looking through shots of other women, there was not a bad one in the bunch. The reason each woman chooses this photography experience varies from person to person- a gift for a significant other, to honor an important birthday or milestone, to gain self-confidence and feel beautiful- but the results are universally gorgeous. I suggest that everyone, at some point in their lives, honor themselves with a photo session like this. Carol & Stacy at Iconic Pinups are the right gals for the job. The business is now offering an introductory $99 special that makes this a fun and affordable option for most budgets.