Super Model for a Day: Photographer Empowers Women

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Tammie Godfrey

Super Model for a Day: Photographer Empowers Women

By Mindy Ragan Wood

Women come in all shapes and sizes, but sadly the fashion industry holds up only one as the ideal female. As the media reverences the thin super model, American women with “real” bodies feel less attractive with every billboard and cover girl they see.

Photographer Tammie Godfrey is changing that one dame at a time. She created “The Pin-Up Dames” to restore pride and confidence for full figured and curvy women. Boudoir or retro pin-up, she poses women in their most flattering positions and uses lighting techniques to reveal the unapologetic woman of today.

Godfrey is adamant about not “photoshopping” women into thinner versions of themselves. “A photo session at Pin-Up Dames is all about embracing the beautiful woman you are, just the way you are. I am asked daily if I can ‘take away’ this or that, ‘can you make me skinny, remove 20 lbs?’ or, ‘remove the hail dents and stretch marks?’ and on and on it goes. My typical response is, ‘Yes, I can, but I won’t. I will polish you, but not change you.’”

When she opened the studio in 2007 she was not prepared for how rewarding her work would be. Godfrey remembered the first woman who cried after the makeover.

“We don’t let clients see themselves during the hair and makeup so they get that reveal affect. I remember the first time a woman cried. This woman walked in and you could tell she had no self-esteem. A friend of hers had talked her into it. She looked at herself in the mirror and screamed. She was crying to my stylist, ‘I’ve never felt pretty before. I’ve never felt pretty and you just made me feel pretty.”

Men have also contacted Godfrey and thanked her for “showing real women.” Their website and Facebook page shares stories from women who say it’s changed their lives.

“You gave me inspiration to feel better about myself and my body,” wrote Denise B.

“I’m 58 years old, I have gained massive amounts of a weight since the car wreck that changed my life, and as I’ve aged, I have very poor self-esteem. I was just devastated from my situation that I was in romantically and physically. Most people would say I am intimidating and very self-assured, but it is a huge facade. When Tammie showed me the slideshow from my photoshoot, I was floored! I literally did not know that I could look that beautiful. They were very tasteful, incorporating all of my best qualities,” wrote Leah.

Godfrey said she is continually amazed at the difference she sees in women after their shoot. They’re wearing makeup, fixing their hair, and taking pride in their appearance.

“My favorite clients are the housewives and working mothers because we don’t do anything for ourselves. We give our last breath to our kids, our husbands and our work,” she said. “We let ourselves go.”

Many of these women come back for more after the first shoot, every couple of months with new clothes or shoes. “It’s the experience. They feel sexy; it makes them feel good about themselves,” said Godfrey.

It’s common for women to feel uncomfortable or even scared at first.

“Especially at the beginning of the shoot, you can tell they’re shy and insecure, but by the end of it they’re rocking the shoot like they’re America’s next top model,” said Godfrey.

Clients meet with Godfrey before the sessions for a consultation regarding the style and package they want. Some clients want modern boudoir, others strictly pin-up or a combination of both looks. Some women go for the sultry bombshell and others for the ballroom goddess.

The studio has a wardrobe but clients are encouraged to bring their own clothing items as well. The sitting fee of $75 includes 1-2 outfits, professional hair and makeup. Photography packages start at $199.

Unless the studio is shooting a party of women, no one is allowed to accompany the client inside the shoot.
“It’s harder for them to relax if they’re got someone standing over their shoulder. Or the friend that comes in with them gets jealous because they’re not in it. They’ll say things like, ‘really, you’re going to wear that?’ or ‘you’re really going to get that picture?’ It’s very positive here, so if someone is a Debbie-downer, they’re asked to stay out front until their session,” she said.

\Not all women have to sign a model release form, but those who are showing themselves to the world enjoy the comments on the Pin-Up Dames Facebook page. Their images have drawn clients from out of state, and as far away as Canada and Australia.

What’ the secret to Godfey’s success?

“Other boudoir photographers are just selling the sexy, but we’re giving them a whole experience. We work with clients based on that connection so they’re seeing themselves in the photos and not someone they think they should pretend to be, like Marilyn Monroe.”

For more information, visit www.pinupdames.com or call 405-331-9996

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