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Our transformation from average Betties to pin-up girls

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My family occasionally has portraits taken and I constantly have a camera pointed at my kids. But the last time I had my picture professionally done was in college when I was roped into doing one of those glamor shots and makeovers.

Don’t judge me.

But I recently learned about Iman Woods, an Erie-based photographer who is doing something so ingenious and rare (she’s one of only a few in the country) I had to investigate: she is turning modern Betties into vintage pinup beauties.

Iman has developed a unique process that blends photography and painting to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art that will be an heirloom passed down through your family.

“My portraits are always tasteful and we customize the photo shoot to you,” she says. “You get to decide how sexy, or cute, or classy your photos are. Then I use the photos as reference to create handmade acrylic paintings.”

The finished product was so stunning I had to take her up on her offer to do a photoshoot with some fellow mamas (check-out our About Us page for our pin-up head shots!) It was the most fun we have ever had together; it’s not every day you get fussed and made over to look like a 1950s vintage beauty.

Iman has an entire wardrobe closet from which to choose–everything from dresses to corsets to furs, hats and shoes. Her all-girl team completed our transformation–Sarah D. was our make-up maven and Dawn Capra-Grace was our “Sculptress of Hair.” She even styled and sewed Victory Rolls on top of my head.

That’s about as close as I’ll ever get to a needle and thread.

All feelings of self-consciousness were eradicated as Iman and her teamed raved about our metamorphosis and we came to life in front of the camera.

“I’ve created a process and team that takes you out of your every day life and into a fantasy land where you KNOW you’re gorgeous despite your imperfections,” says Iman. “It’s important to recognize the beauty in our bodies as they carry us through all of life’s stages.”

(Inner Beauty Project's Amber M.)

Iman recently instituted the Inner Beauty Project where women were invited to write themselves a love letter. She was so moved by Amber M.’s contribution that she donated a photo shoot to her. (Read Amber’s letter here).

“Over the past five years this mom of three has been diagnosed with cancer four times and was diagnosed again. She was in the middle of chemotherapy when we did our photo shoot but she’s alive and positive and taking the joy with the pain,” says Iman.

We’ve all paid for professional photos with which we weren’t happy. But as my friends and I posed together–laughing, hamming it up and drinking in Iman’s guidance on how to produce the most flattering photos–something empowering was ignited:

We are more than just yoga-pants-wearing women, wives, girlfriends and mothers who juggle laundry, dishes, homework, work and the PTA.

And it’s pretty darn cool to have something to remind us of that.

Pricing: A Girls Night In photography session starts at $150 per person, Full Pinup Makeovers start at $750 and paintings start at $2500. Be sure to check her Web site for information about her unique photo shoots for children, couples, families and pets. Stay tuned for the relaunch of the Inner Beauty Project in December 2012 and follow Iman on Facebook for updates.

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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  • comment avatar Lori November 7, 2011

    How fun! You all look beautiful!

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz November 7, 2011

    Iman and her team (Dawn and Sarah) do amAZing work, and every woman ought to have a session where she feels so special and beautiful.

    And to think I almost missed my chance! I wrote about it here:

    • comment avatar Iman Woods November 14, 2011


      I am SO happy you were there bright and early and that I didn’t miss the pleasure of meeting you. You embodied the idea of a Red Hot Mama. You pushed past your fear and GLOWED lighting up my studio. Thank you for trusting us.

  • comment avatar Gretchen White November 7, 2011

    I loved getting dolled up. It was such an amazing feeling to step out of the normal and into a time machine. Iman is a crazy`talented. Dawn and Sarah, her awesome hair and makeup team, helped transform us into movie stars for a few hours. Thanks to all for the experience!

    • comment avatar Iman Woods November 14, 2011

      Oh my!

      Gretchen, you are incredible. You rocked this sultry sexy look and that striped sundress! And you have the best laugh. πŸ˜‰ Thank YOU for joining us on this adventure.

  • comment avatar Jenny - Sugar Loco November 7, 2011

    these are beautiful portraits! she’s done a fabulous job!

    • comment avatar Iman Woods November 14, 2011

      I had the best ladies to work with. πŸ™‚ THANK YOU!

  • comment avatar Gretchen Y November 7, 2011

    It was sooo much fun! The amazing transformation from just a girl in a t-shirt and jeans (how I arrived) to this amazingly fun dress, makeup (which I attempted to repeat at Halloween with NO success) and hair was more than just a night out. It was a true change in thinking! Beautiful photos – and beautiful person! Thank you to you and your team!

    • comment avatar Iman Woods November 14, 2011

      Lol, I couldn’t STOP STARING at you. πŸ˜‰ And don’t be hard on yourself about repeating the hair. Dawn is a very specialized artist and it’s always harder to do the same look on yourself. You are so funny and beautifully alive, I love that your pictures show the same.

  • comment avatar Jaime Swartzendruber November 7, 2011

    Well, Amber, you may prefer to be on the other side of the camera, but I have to say, you are beautifully photogenic – and no shame in the glamour shot – what’s livn’ in the 90’s w/o that crossed off the bucket list?

    Iman’s guidance *is* worthy of a toast ~ she possesses great wisdom and insight into the pressures of modern media and the misleading values often portrayed in images of the female form. Her works are comprised of far more than the stunning art she creates. Iman is doing what we all aspire to – changing the world – one Bettie at a time. Thanks to all of Iman’s team for making the Mamas feel beeeaaauuutiful!

    • comment avatar Iman Woods November 14, 2011

      Agreed! Amber, you are TOTALLY photogenic! Look at those pictures! (Totally jealous of your skin.)

      Jaime, it makes me want to cry to read this. You get what I’m trying to do. I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle sometimes. And your pictures! WOW!

  • comment avatar Sheri November 7, 2011

    You all look FABULOUS!!!

    I really liked the yoga in heels. It was right up my ally.

    Iman and her team do great work…but I also think they had a lot to work with!

    That’s awesome!

    • comment avatar Iman Woods November 14, 2011

      Thanks, Sheri, we had the most amazing ladies to work with! I can’t wait to meet everyone else.

  • comment avatar Lisa - Laughing Yoga Mama November 7, 2011

    It was a blast to be there all frilled up and sassy. I loved spending the afternoon with the MHM girls – thanks Amber and Iman! Dawn and Sarah did wonders – even with this naturally crazy-I mean curly- hair of mine!

    As for the yoga pic…I know they were doing yoga in 1949 in India, but it most definitely wasn’t in 3 inch heels (or were they 4?). However, posing in a sassy partner tree with Ms. Lavender Luz was a highlight of my day! Such fun!

    • comment avatar Iman Woods November 14, 2011

      That yoga pose is one of my favorites! And I’m thrilled we were able to translate the pinup look with your natural GORGEOUS curls. πŸ˜‰ Thank YOU!

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