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My First Pinup Experience Featuring Sweet Heart Pin Up Studio

Posted Meagan Kyla Hendrickson Behind the scenes Lifestyle Local

 Sweetheart Pinup Store Front

Sweetheart Pin Up Studio is located right down the street from Cats Like Us at 59 Main St. Tonwanda, NY 14150.

I first came up with the idea of working with Destiny Rogowski on a blog with the idea of shedding some light on the pinup photography experience from both the model and the photographer perspective. I wanted to share some insight into what Destiny does and perhaps encourage people who may be hesitant stepping in front of the camera. Well, when Destiny suggested I be the model it sent a bit of shock my system. "I'm a stylist, I'm behind the scenes!", is what I thought and panic set in as I don't consider myself a pinup at all! But you see, this was the whole point of writing this blog and collaborating on this project, it's all about the experience and letting go of control and self doubt. So here I am, sharing my first pinup experience with Destiny of Sweetheart Pin Up Studio.

 Destiny behind the desk at Sweetheart Pin Up Studio

The first step in the process was for Destiny and I set a date and we discussed our theme or any personal details I wanted to add to the session. She was very open to my ideas and encouraged me to bring my own props (even though she has so much to choose from at the studio!), clothing, etc. She had me read her F.A.Q on her website which I thought was very informative and professional. 

Sweetheart Pin Up Interior

I had never been to Destiny's studio space, so I was in awe! Very beautiful, bright and I instantly became calm (hey, I was nervous!). Destiny is so sweet and welcoming as we discussed how she would send me the photos, how I could order prints, etc. 

More Interior shots of Sweetheart Pin Up Studio located in Tonawanda, NY

I also had to take another look around before we headed back to hair, makeup and wardrobe. Hehe!

Destiny applying my makeup for pin up shoot

After we discussed and planned the two outfits we were going to shoot for the two different sets (yes, there are many choices!), Destiny started on my makeup and then hair. You get five people all in one when you work with Destiny, she is a wardrobe stylist (that provides wardrobe if needed), hair stylist, makeup artist, posing coach and photographer.

Pin Up shoot Destiny doing my hair

I am very weird and uncomfortable when people apply makeup and style my hair, but I was very comfortable with Destiny and trusted her completely. She's been doing pin up photography for many years and I knew she would transform me into the pin up she envisioned, plus I was having too much fun to be concerned!

While Destiny was doing her hair and makeup magic, I asked her a lot of questions:

Why pin up photography?

I have always been drawn to classic pin ups like Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page. While living in Los Angeles I became immersed in the rockabilly, classic car and burlesque show scenes. I loved all the styles I was seeing in the hair, make up and clothing. I started to dress myself that way because it just made me feel pretty. While I was living in LA I was working in the celebrity photo shoot industry mainly doing wardrobe styling and sometimes hair and makeup. I learned very quickly that celebrities are normal people with weight and self esteem issues. I decided when I moved back to Buffalo that my business would be a marriage of the two. I felt that I could bring that celebrity treatment to pin up photography to give women a chance to see themselves in a way they may have never seen themselves before.

Best advice to people who are doing their first pinup shoot?

My advice to anyone to prepare for their first shoot is to relax and try to have fun. Think of a pin up shoot as a time to play dress up and just feel girly and pretty. One of my favorite things about Marilyn Monroe's photographs is she just looks like she's having fun. I think most people allow "fear" of not looking good or messing up get in their way. I tell people that all you have to do is show up, I do it all. hair, makeup, wardrobe styling and through out the shoot I offer pose suggestions and coaching to offer my clients reassurance that I will not capture them in an unflattering way.

Suggestions on what they should do to prep before coming to the studio for a shoot?

In order to prepare for a shoot I tell everyone to do a little research into famous pin ups, there are so many a quick internet search will provide you with a great insight into the earliest ones like; Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable or modern day pin up's like Mosh and Dita Von Teese or my new favorite Immodesty Blaize. I love if people can show me hairstyles that intrigue them so I can duplicate that style or put my own artistic spin on it. I tell people to bring their own fake eyelashes I believe they add a great drama to the overall look and their own high heel shoes just in case I do not have their size. I also allow people to text me directly if they have questions or ideas about their shoot that way the shoot can be more personal to them.

You and I were talking about body confidence and how it can sometimes be an issue, how can doing a pinup photoshoot help?

I think a pin up shoot gives women an amazing self confidence boost. the classic pin up girl styling celebrates curves and femininity so the wardrobe alone can transform how you feel about your body. Then add the hair styling and makeup and your on a journey to a time period that was just more glamorous. You can feel it, it will radiate right through you. I have had women come to me for a shoot, then book another, then another, I think they can become quite addictive! A lot of those clients having body issues then they see the results in the pictures and it just makes them feel good about themselves. I truly believe that "you define the meaning of sexy". There is no weight requirement, no size that's the right size. I love this quote i think it could be the definition of my business " Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and its better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring"- Marilyn Monroe 

What are some of the biggest rewards of being a pinup photographer? What inspires you?

There are so many rewards for me. First and foremost the genuine connection I make with my clients hearing about their lives, loves, losses. Being able to treat them to a day of glamour that celebrities get all the time. Getting to see their reactions to seeing themselves in the mirror after their make over, as some have cried tears of pure joy there's nothing more rewarding than that. I think making someone feel beautiful is the most wonderful feeling in the world and I feel truly blessed to have experienced that. I have had clients come to me as a first time "pin up photo-shooter" that have submitted their photos to magazines and are now pursuing pin up modeling careers, they have face book pages for their pin up modeling with thousands of likes and fans. It's really cool to think i helped inspire that. 

What inspires you?

People inspire me. they always have, to me my art doesn't exist unless I'm giving it to someone. It started at a very young age. I would draw people in doctor's offices or hockey games and then give them my drawings, before they left my parents thought i was totally insane (haha!) and still do. Because I'm kinda doing the same thing now LOL. I think the inspiration definitely comes from a person being in front of me the makeup application is like painting to me, the hair styling like sculpture, dressing them is like theatre, and the photography is the art of capturing the true essence of a person in that moment. So, what i do really feels like all of the things I have ever been passionate about all rolled into one place Sweet Heart Pin Up Studio!

And then it was time photo time!........

Behind the scenes my first pinup shoot with Sweetheart Pin Up Studio

As I mentioned earlier in the blog, Destiny has so many sets to choose from, yet we worked with her 1950s turquoise kitchen and 1950s style living room sets. The kitchen went perfectly with the Suki 50s Tiki Swing Dress from Cats Like Us. I brought a few Tiki mugs from my collection, vintage plastic lei's and a giant wooden Tiki idol. I love that I was able to infuse my love of Tiki into Destiny's sets.

Before and After Sweetheart Pin Up Studio

I was frightened when I saw myself on the left, but was so overjoyed with the final photos! Shot out to my husband who made the hibiscus cookies for the shoot *Wink*.

Pin Up photography by Sweetheart Pin Ip Studio

Destiny was amazing with helping me with posing and also asked if I had any ideas or anything specific in mind. It was a nice collaboration! The shoot was playful and fun, plus I was wearing way more color than I usually do. so it was a real transformation, Haha! She didn't rush anything during the entire process and made me feel pretty amazing and special. 

Tiki pin up by Sweetheart Pin Up Studio

Just like a lot of people, I struggle with my own body image issues, but I have to say it all went away when I was working with Destiny. I was just in the moment and really enjoyed the pin up experience! 

Thank you to Destiny for the esteem boosting photo session, Jodee Cummings for helping with the behind the scenes photos and to Cats Like Us for lending me with the adorable Tiki dress. And a big thank you to all our readers and customers for letting me share my experience, now it's your turn! *Wink*

Visit Destiny's website at 


-Meagan Kyla

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