Posted by Kim Leonard
Like so many working moms, sometimes I don’t always get a chance to think about myself when it comes down to self care. Now that I’m pregnant, working full time, raising a family and taking care of my husband who recently had a stroke I really, really haven’t had a lot of time for myself. This pregnancy has actually taken a back-burner to everything else happening so all of that “Oh pamper yourself, you’re pregnant” stuff went right out the window. I’ve felt like a ragged, haggard, baggy-eyed version of myself and something really had to be done about it.
Luck would have it that I had chatted with Melissa Wedekind of Wicked Haute Boudoir and Pin-up Photography months ago and planned a session to take my belly photos. I mean, as soon as I’d breathed the words “I’m pregnant” out loud, I’d set a date with her to make these happen. Located at 2015 Tuolumne, Wicked Haute is sandwiched between Raizana Teas and Misc. Trading Co., two of my favorite downtown places, I just *knew* that she had to be as awesome as her neighbors. The Warnor’s Center for the Performing Arts has pretty good taste in tenants for their storefronts.
When I booked the session I had no clue how revitalizing the experience would be or how much I’d need the self esteem boost at this point in my pregnancy!
One of the options you can choose when booking a session with Wicked Haute is to have your hair and makeup done by Veronica, the in-house makeup artist. I used to be pretty okay at doing my makeup, but in the last year or so my liquid liner always ends up pencil thin on one eye and an inch thick on the other so I figured I should do the safe thing and add that on to my sesh. Best decision ever. Veronica was able to take the mess that walked in the door and in less than an hour transform me into a Hollywood starlet.
Once hair and makeup were out of the way, it was time to get down to business. When you think of boudoir photography it evokes images of lingerie and bare skin, which can be a bit intimidating for many women- especially those of us with well-worn, stretch-marked and c-section scarred bodies. Melissa creates a very comfortable environment in her studio so even though I opted to go the vintage pin-up route for my session, I could easily see myself laughing and having fun if I had picked to *ahem* bare it all. It is very private, with heavy curtains on the windows and she’s respectful of privacy as you change from one outfit to another. Not all of us can be exhibitionists, and that’s obviously taken into consideration if you’re looking to have some peek-a-boo photos taken just for you and your significant other to enjoy.
Being pregnant can make even the most coordinated and elegant person feel like an awkward drunken sloth, and this is where Melissa’s gift of directing poses comes in really handy. I had no clue how to navigate my belly while trying to look natural posed, legs up and curled under me and to the side on her couch, but her gentle guidance of “okay, shoulders back, head tilted slightly to the left, good, now look down.” gave results that made me look like I automatically sit that way alllll the time.
What really surprised me was how relaxing it was. You always think of the obvious ways of stress relieving- prenatal yoga, massage, cupcake therapy… but spending a few hours focusing on nothing but taking gorgeous photos was actually a pretty good living-in-the-moment, Zen kind of experience. The process of having someone else do my hair and makeup felt like a huge luxury during this time where I can’t even find the energy to blow-dry in the morning. And unlike cupcake therapy, I actually have something tangible to hold on to for years afterward- lovely photographs!
As soon as we’d gotten started I was already thinking “I’ve got to blog about this!” to myself. Luckily, Melissa was game.
Get to know Melissa Wedekind of Wicked Haute Boudoir and Pinup Photography:
How long have you been in the photography business? I’ve been doing photography as a hobby for many years, but I’ve been specializing in Boudoir for nearly 3 years now.
What made you decide to go with boudoir and pinup photography? I discovered the existence of Boudoir Photography about 5 years ago. Before that, I had no idea it existed! The thought of having my own Boudoir studio stayed in the back of my mind for a couple of years, until I did my first Boudoir shoot 3 years ago. I was photographing a friend and the shoot took place in the tiny apartment I was living in at the time. The shoot was so much fun – I fell in love with Boudoir and knew that I had found my calling.
What made you want to bring your business downtown? To be honest, the initial thing that brought me downtown was that it was more cost-effective than renting in other areas of Fresno. But when I started looking at spaces downtown, I realized that all the buildings were really beautiful! The moment I walked into my studio, I knew it was where I wanted to be. There is definitely no place in Fresno with as much character as downtown.
What keeps you downtown? I absolutely LOVE my little studio, and I have fantastic neighbors (Misc. Trading Co. and Raizana Teas). There is a real sense of community downtown that I appreciate, and I’m really excited for all the revitalization efforts that are in the works. I really think that downtown Fresno has more to offer than people realize.
What was your favorite moment as a photographer? That is a REALLY hard question to answer! I’ve had the opportunity to photograph so many different people and places and events, and it has all been so amazing. Each moment is so special in its own way – I don’t think I can choose just one moment to call my favorite.
As a downtown business owner, what do you think the biggest challenge is for downtown? For me personally, it’s parking. There is very limited street parking in front of my studio and it’s metered, so I always have to advise my clients to bring change with them. Also, since I’m not from Fresno originally, I know for a fact that there is a stigma about downtown. I had never even been downtown before I started looking for a studio because so many people told me downtown was “dangerous” and that I should never go down there. I’ve had my studio downtown for 2.5 years now, and I’ve yet to encounter anything dangerous. A homeless person here and there? Yes. Danger? No.
If you could have any celebrity (real or fictional) hang out in a downtown spot with you for one day, who would they be and where would you take them? Oh, that’s an easy one! Lady Gaga. I am not ashamed to admit that I am borderline obsessed with her and anything she is doing/creating. She loves vintage and has amazing style, so of course I would take her to check out some vintage gear at one of the many amazing vintage boutiques downtown.
If you could dedicate a song to downtown, what would it be? “Downtown” by Neil Young. Obviously.
Aside from photography, what are you passionate about? Aerial! In my spare time I am a performing aerialist for Fresno Dance Collective (NoCo) . It challenges and inspires me, both physically and artistically.
To book a session with Wicked Haute Boudoir and Pin-up Photography click here. She’s now offering Glamour Portraits (no not, the cheesy puffy-hair and soft lights from the 80’s) or you can go all out an join in on the beach shoot in August.