Get to know Grinkie hair and makeup artist, Lela Wright

I am fortunate to work with great clients, as well as great partners. Lela Wright is one of those great partners.

A hair and make-up artist in her own right, Lela and I began collaborating over five years ago. I love having her by my side, and if you haven’t already, I’d love for you to meet her so you can understand why I’m so happy that she’s part of the team.

Enjoy this Q & A and get to know why I simply adore this woman!

Question:  How did you and Christi begin working together? 

Answer: It all started with a photo shoot and it has evolved into both a partnership and a rather beautiful friendship. 

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Question:  What do you do for the Grinkie models?

Answer: I will never forget the first time I set foot in front of the camera. I was excited—but DAMN I was nervous! My general personality is nurturing and kind, and I bring that to every photo shoot to help create an environment that is non-intimidating and fun. My job is to ease tension and encourage. My goal is for our models to feel at home and to see Christi and me not only as a professional team, but as two people who are also easy going and comfortable to be around. 

Question: What do you like best about working with Grinkie models?

Answer: I absolutely love making a difference in people’s lives and I truly believe that is what we do. We offer people the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones in a safe environment. We create an experience that is fun and nurturing. We allow people to see themselves through someone else’s eyes. 

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Question: What's the most rewarding thing about working with Grinkie models?

Answer: As I mentioned previously, the most reward thing about my job is impacting people’s lives in a positive way, and I know for certain that this is true for Christi as well. I love meeting people and getting to know them and more often than not the photo session turns into a major love fest—tears, hugs and all!  

Question:  Where else do you work and what else do you do?

Answer: I stay very busy. When I’m not holding a make up brush or a curling iron, I’m teaching yoga, playing volleyball, gardening, cooking or visiting local breweries (most of these activities are done with my best friend and partner by my side!). My life revolves around my family. Both of my sons are in local bands and I get out as often as I can to support them. I also have one-year-old twins who add joy and adventure to each day! I am a big believer that life is what you make of it and the universe will always provide. I have a deep sense of gratitude for every single day and all the people in my life. It is truly a gift.  

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Question: Where are you from, and what do you like best about the Twin Cities?

Answer: I am from Madison, Wisconsin. I moved to the Twin Cities with my son nearly 21 years ago! It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for that long. Minnesota is my home. There is so much to do and see here and the communities are strong. I appreciate the diversity and the culture and though I love to travel—I will never leave. I will go off and explore often, but I will always return home.

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Question: Anything else you want to add? Can we get your website and social media channels and contact information?

Answer:  Though I love doing pin up/vintage/period MUAH—I also do a lot of work with brides and bridesmaids, preparing for senior photos, special events, headshots, cooperate identity photos and much, much more!  

Please feel free to connect with me on my website, getstyledbylela.com, Facebook page, Get Styled by Lela, and/or Instagram, getstyledbylela. You also can call me at 651-269-9380.

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The Grinkie Mother/Daughter Experience

I’m not sure who was more excited for our “Mother and Me” photo session with Christi at Grinkie Girls, my 11-year-old daughter or me.  Although I’ve known Christi for about seven years and I’d seen lots of her photos, I truly was not sure what to expect. And my daughter, Sasha, had no idea what was in store, either.

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We got to the studio a little before 4:00 pm on a Saturday looking forward to what awaited us. When we walked into the Grinkie studio, Christi met us with a warm smile and offered us some water and a tour.

Then, it was time to get down to business. We met Lela, the hair and make-up artist (and that’s truly what she is), and we started to think about our wardrobe for the shoot.

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Christi has a room dedicated to vintage clothes of all sizes for most shapes, and the shoes – oh, my. Does she have shoes!

At first, I admit I wasn’t sure what to look for, but with some guidance from Christi, I was on my way. Or, actually, Sasha began taking out dresses for both her and me to try on.

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Once we agreed on what we were going to wear, Lela worked her magic on us. She set my daughter’s hair, then mine. Then she did my daughter’s make-up and finished up her hair, and finally she did the same to me.

I won’t lie; it took some time. Christi says that to do one person’s hair and make-up usually takes about 60-90 minutes, and that was true for us. Times two.

But, wow. She made us both look amazing. I didn’t want my 11-year-old baby to look too grown up, and she didn’t. She looked so naturally beautiful, because she is, but in a way she hadn’t looked before because she hadn’t had her hair and make up done this way before.

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And, not to brag, but I looked pretty damn good, too.

With my daughter’s hair and make-up done, it was time for her to get in front of the camera. I can’t tell you how much fun she had, and I think Christi was enjoying her time, too. From my chair, I heard lots of laughter, lots of banter back and forth, and even some suggestions from my daughter, much to Christi’s delight.

Just as Lela finished my hair and make-up, my husband and 13-year-old son arrived because we were going to toss in a couple of family snaps, too.

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But before we did though, it was my turn to get in front of the camera. I’ve never been a pinup girl before and certainly never photographed as one, but Christi made it easy. Her comfort behind the camera helped me feel comfortable in front of the camera, even as my family watched from the side.

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After about 15 minute of me posing, the rest of my family joined in and we took a few pictures of the four of us. By this time it was about 7:30 pm, and although my daughter could have stayed for another hour or two, I could tell my son was getting antsy.

And, just like that, we were done with the pictures. The great thing is, we got to look at every single one right then and determine which ones we wanted and which ones we didn’t. I won’t lie; it was difficult to choose because they all were really, really great. Christi guided us through this process as well, just as she had been guiding us all evening.

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We settled on the ones we would keep, and then changed back into our street clothes. After saying good-bye to Christi, my family went out to dinner at a restaurant nearby. Although we were in jeans and sweatshirts, our faces and hair were still glammed up and it was a fun way to eat a burger.

Later that night, Sasha told me that her brother mentioned to her that she should be a model. “You looked really great in every picture,” he said, proudly.

She’s already thinking about our next Grinkie session, and so am I.

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Go on location with Grinkie Girls

Go on location with Grinkie Girls

While it’s true Grinkie Girls has a very comfortable photo studio in St. Paul, did you know Christi can do both pin-up and boudoir photo shoots out of the studio and on location?

It’s true, and it’s a lot of fun. In fact, Christi has done photo shoots in one-stall garages, grand ballrooms, and everything in between. And what makes these on-location shoots interesting typically is the location itself.

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“Either the location is interesting on it’s own, or I can bring a simple backdrop to make it so,” says Christi. “Sometimes we need to accommodate a large prop, like a plane.”

That’s right. If you have an airplane, Christi will be happy to use it as a backdrop.

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Why go on location?

People choose to take their photo shoot out of the studio and on location for many reasons. Some are on location to accommodate groups, and more still are booked to incorporate a large prop or backdrop that simply cannot get inside the studio (like that plane we referenced above).

Still others choose to do a boudoir shoot in the comfort of their own home, and Christi has been known to go on location across state lines for a large group shoot.

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Regardless of where the location is, you still get hair and makeup done for you (remember to ask Christi about the time she was shooting in the woods and the challenges the hair people had with the curling iron!). And, it takes about the same amount of time, so there’s no extra charge for Christi to go on location (of course, if you are renting a place out for the shoot, then that would be an extra charge you incur).

Do you have an idea for an amazing on location photo shoot? Contact Christi to discuss! And see the upcoming location shoot schedule.

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Grinkie Does Pet Photography

 

Grinkie Does Pet Photography

Pets are people, too. OK, not really, but pets are definitely a part of the family. I, unfortunately, cannot have any pets in my home due to allergies, so I get my animal fix by working with other people and their pets.

That’s right; Grinkie does pet photography.

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In fact, I love working with people and their fur-babies. There is something magical about watching a dog or a cat with his or her person. Seriously.

The unconditional love they have for their owner is so sweet and so pure. And, I love watching and capturing the love people have for their pets.

In fact, I love it so much, I want to do even more pet photography.

Animal Imagemakers Conference

You may or may not know that I am a proud board member of the Twin Cities Professional Photographer’s Association.  We are sponsoring the first pet photography convention in the U.S., the Animal Imagemakers Conference,  on April 13-16, 2019, and I am super excited!

The conference will kick off with an Haute Couture Pet Fashion Show that I am coordinating, and will continue with speakers, exhibits and other educational opportunities. The whole idea is to serve pet and animal photographers with a comprehensive event that is all about the business of photographing our four-legged friends.

I look forward to taking what I learn from the conference and applying it to help animals show their personalities in front of the camera. Because they all have personalities!

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So, if you and your pet want a photo shoot by me, please let me know. I’d love you have you come in to the studio, or if it’s easier and more comfortable and convenient, I can certainly come to you. Or, we can choose a different location altogether.

Whatever works best for your and your fur-baby. Just let me know. Contact me today for details, pricing and to reserve your time!

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Thank You For Your Service

Happy Birthday, America!

I read somewhere that Americans consume 150 million hot dogs and 700 million pounds of chicken on the Fourth of July. Seven. Hundred Million. Pounds.

That’s a lot.

I love the holiday that commemorates the 13 original colonies’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. I love the parade and fireworks that accompanies the celebrations, and I love picnics with watermelon and yes, fried chicken.

I also love veterans for many reasons, one being for all the sacrifices they give to our country. And, I really love my grandfather, who fought – and was a POW – in World War II.

He was captured in France and has many amazing stories about his time in the Air Force as well as his capture.

So it’s very important to me that I support veterans any way I can. One way I do this is by giving all veterans who come in for a pin up shoot one free image.

And, for the month of July, all veterans who come in for a solo shoot will get one free 16 x 20 photo printed on metal (valued at $499).

Are you a veteran and considering a pinup photo shoot?

Two veterans I’ve recently worked with agreed to share their stories. First, please meet Janelle, who was in the Air National Guard.

“The photo shoot with Christi was so much fun! There was swing music playing in the background (I believe it was the Squirrel Nut Zippers). I remember a huge collection of retro clothing for me to try on, and I fit into everything. I always had self-image problems, and they were all gone that day. I was fully celebrating what God gave me and it was a nice change from the regular pinch and poke at myself.

“For anyone considering a shoot, I’d say to do it. In your gear, you are hidden. You are the same as everyone else. But in this shoot you are transformed into the woman or man that you are! You are free to express yourself in any way you want. Christi is so energetic and loving, and is completely different than the officers you work under.”

And now, hear from Aimee, who was in the U.S. Air Force.

“I wanted to do a Grinkie shoot because I never really felt very girly or attractive. Also, I had just gone through a divorce and I really needed to feel like a woman again. It was so nice to be dolled up.

“I most remember how comfortable Christi made me feel. I am a very awkward person, yet she managed to get so many beautiful pictures of me.

“I did a photo in part of my military uniform for myself. I didn’t share it with anyone via social media, and I love the way I look. I want to do another shoot with her and bring in items that are significant to me, like my wings I earned as a flight attendant and probably my dog tags from the military. I know with her creativity she can find the best ways to use them.”

Thank you for your service, Janelle and Aimee, and thank you to all veterans!

If you are curious about what’s involved in a pinup shoot, give me a call. And remember, if you come in for a solo shoot in July, I’ll give you one free 16 x 20 photo printed on metal, valued at $499.

Contact me to learn more, and Happy Birthday, America!  

Identity Portraits – Creating a safe space for transgender people

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So much pressure exists for each of us to fit into a certain mold. But the truth is, we are all unique and we each have our own mold to fit into. So, every day when I work with clients, my mission is to help them tap into – and feel comfortable with – their inner and outer beauty. Two recent clients made me realize just how important that mission is. Both are transgender and are transitioning – one from male to female, and the other from female to male. The experience of working with both was so powerful and fun that I realized that although they are both unique, their stories might not be. I also realized I want to help more people like Michaela and Justin confidently express just who they are though photos.

And so, the idea of Identity Portraits was born to provide a safe place for transgender and non-binary identifying people to decide how they want to present themselves to the world. I admit that working with Michaela and Justin was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in my professional life (with all due respect to my other clients, of course). And, based on the tears shed during each session, I think it was a pretty good experience for each of them, too.

Justin says:
“I had wanted to do a shoot like this ever since I had top surgery, and I admit that I was a bit nervous going into the shoot. But Christi made me feel at ease. “I went in knowing it would be fun, but I didn’t realize how much fun it was going to be. Christi’s passion for what she does is reflected throughout the entire experience. She captures so much beauty, her energy is infectious, and her compassion for people will leave you speechless.” He is so pleased with the end product that he is hosting a party to unveil the photos that we took that day.

Michaela says:
“I won a photo shoot from a Valentine’s Day drawing, and Christi and her team were amazing from the very start. “I had not told Christi that I was trans, but it didn’t matter. From the beginning, I was treated as me without anyone batting an eye. I felt accepted as the woman that I am. “Being the center of focus was amazing, and this photo shoot was one of the most affirming things I have ever done. I had never seen myself like I did that day, and Christi helped me realize that’s how other people see me. “It truly changed how I saw myself. When we looked at my pictures, I cried.”

What’s included?
All Identity Portraits are custom-designed for each participant. That means that participants will receive a pre-shoot consultation with me to brainstorm and discuss ideas. Hair and make-up are also included. The goal of the session, along with some quality pictures, is to ensure the participant feels like the exceptional person they are.Pricing for the shoot and any prints are at my standard rates. In addition, I have set up a private Facebook group for my Identity Portrait clients as well as others in the transgender community. I want to extend the safe place beyond my studio, and this Facebook group is an invite-only resource for discussion and questions. For more information about Identity Portraits, including the cost and how to book your appointment, please contact me directly by clicking here.

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