Anne’s Transformation

Guest Blogger, Anne, describes her ‘Transformation Experience’

In my family, I’m most often the one behind the camera, not in front of it. Not just because I enjoy snapping those family moments – especially the cheerful ones we prefer to remember – but also because I’ve always disliked having my picture taken. Like many women, I tend to be overly harsh and critical when I look in the mirror. I’m quick to compliment a friend, even a total stranger – but offer myself the same kindness? Nah.

When Sue described that I’d have an hour-long hair blowout, followed by an equally long makeup session, and then the photo session, I tried to remain cheery and positive !  I had a consult with a lovely hair stylist, Janelle, who assessed my body type and face shape, as well as my overall clothing style (fortunately I wasn’t in my usual tennis togs), before recommending a hairdo for the day. For years I thought I had a square face; who knew it was actually oval?? Then a perfectly made up young woman, Torrie, asked what I usually did for makeup (um, does sunscreen count?) and what I would be comfortable with. All I requested is that I still look like myself, not some over-the-hill drag queen.

When the day arrived, I turned up at Philip Ciampa Salon bare faced and a bit anxious. Sue, however, was warm, helpful, and professional. Get ready to be spoiled, she said. A foreign concept for many of us, but sure, I’ll get into the spirit! In the hands on the hair stylist, I was washed, dried, ironed, curled, flipped, and tousled. Yes, it took an hour, but how lovely to not have anything to do! Then, hair still in 50s-style curlers, I went up to Sue’s airy and bright studio for the makeup session. What an array of tools, colors, and accessories! And by accessories I mean falsies – false eyelashes, that is. Sure, I’ll try them. I was feeling braver and less self-conscious by now. Bring on the spray foundation!

When I opened my eyes to see the final result (I was worried the falsies would weigh down my eyelids so I couldn’t open them – wrong), I looked in the mirror and saw someone….pretty. Sexy even. … And then I put on my first outfit, a peach beaded flapper-style mini dress, sprawled on the couch, and we were off. The more time I spent with Sue, the more comfortable I felt (a middle-of-the-day glass of wine didn’t hurt). We tried different poses, different lighting, different backdrops, and different outfits – including a silver tutu! It felt like a real collaboration, a conversation between us that resulted in me feeling freed from any formality and able to trust that she would capture the right moments in my face.

The hours passed so quickly, and I didn’t want the session to end! It was the first time ever that I had actually enjoyed posing and preening.

On to the big reveal – the day when Sue invited me back to the studio to see the results of our time together. I brought my husband. Lined up on the wall were about a dozen photos, each perfectly matted, then boxed attractively to bring home. My dear spouse, a man of few words, emitted the perfect ones: “Wow. Sexy.” Each picture captured a distinct emotion, and each one was so genuine. Happy. Silly. Pensive. Cheeky. And each and every one made me feel beautiful. And happy, and silly, and pensive, and cheeky.

Sue has created a magical experience that every woman should enjoy at least once. You’ll feel pampered, accentuate your best assets, and end up with timeless photos you’ll look at again and again and think, Is that really me? You are so worth it!! Just do it.