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Real is Beautiful, Opening the Kimono Part 1

I’m still riding the positive energy from the huge success of this weekend’s “Opening the Kimono!”  Twenty photographers went behind the scenes to watch me shoot live in NYC. They got a backstage pass to watch me work with a real client, collaborate with my team, how I use the space in my fav studio to create variety, and how I create flattering authentic pictures with no retouching! We had an extensive Q&A and discussed why it’s important to me to no longer retouch the women in my pictures. (More on that below…)

This set was shot in 10 minutes and evokes the scorching heat of summer on the Italian coast in the 60′s – tanning oil, sun worship, and sexiness. If you’ve ever been to Italy in August you know what I mean.

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As I’ve mentioned on the blog and announced in a Q&A last week, I will continue to not retouch the women in my photos and share them on this blog.

This woman (not a model) is unretouched in all of these photos.

Because real is beautiful.

Inspired by recent bad ass and brave beauty renegades, such as…

Taryn Brumfitt, who began a campaign to unite women across the globe to love their bodies,
Brooke Birmingham, who refused to put on a shirt for SHAPE magazine,
Seventeen magazine’s “Body Peace Treaty” which includes not changing girls’ bodies or face,
and Aerie lingerie company who began advertising their own pics that hadn’t been retouched,
among others…

…I was inspired to share my own.

Continue the movement. If you feel moved to, share this link via Facebook, pin the above image, tweet it, talk about it, call your mom.

Because real is beautiful.

xoxo, Christa



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Spotlight on Liz Dialto & Wild Soul Movement

Meet Liz DiAlto, founder of Wild Soul Movement.

Liz is one of my favorite people on the planet and a dear friend. You’ve gotta know her if you don’t already. Her outrageous laugh, deliciously inappropriate statements, and heart-centered full-gusto approach to life make me want to put her in my pocket…

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The first time I met Liz was for a 22-woman photo shoot I did for Marie Forleo and her mastermind ladies. Liz went way outside her comfort zone and posed for a picture wearing nothing but her hands over her heart. Which is so her. (Liz wrote beautifully about the experience in a popular post on The Daily Love.)

Our second shoot was for her now-discontinued Tighter in Ten fitness program, which was about working out, building muscle and weight loss. She was a personal fitness trainer and wanted to look cut in that shoot. You can take a peek at that photo shoot in my archives.

And not too long after that photo shoot she began a dramatic transformation…

In the two years since then, she’s let go of wanting abs of steel and softened her body and embraced her natural curves. She also softened her heart and approached her body with acceptance, trust and love. She embraced her feminine energy and let go of the masculine “work out”…

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She began practicing sensual movement, inviting more pleasure into her life, doing what felt good, and meditating…

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She practiced accepting her body and lovin’ on it…

In fact, there is NO PHOTOSHOP on these photos. She and I were in full-hearted agreement on that…

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So when I met up with Liz recently in Los Angeles for our third photo shoot for her new Wild Soul Movement program – I had never seen her so vital, alive, and absolutely shining with positivity, love and joy. Not to mention the confidence and body love she had was totally alluring and positively magnetic!

I’ll have whatever she’s having please. Well lucky for us, we can…

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Liz didn’t diet. But rather, she spent the last couple of years going inward to find complete acceptance of herself as she is and pouring all she’s learned into developing this new program for women. Wild Soul Movement is a 12-week video-based practice that combines soul-soothing movement, mantra and meditation…

Liz created it for women who want to feel confident, turned on, magnetic, worthy, and free.

As photographers who specialize in portraits for women, we want the same for our clients.

As women, we want the same for ourselves.

Join me and our special guest, Liz DiAlto, for a no-holds barred discussion…

“Body-Love and Self-Acceptance”
TOMORROW, Thursday June 5th at 1pm Eastern

Get the call-in details here.

She and I will discuss how we can help our clients and ourselves feel comfortable in our bodies and release what’s holding us back, and more…

See you on the call tomorrow!

With lots of body love,

Christa

ps. I’m also super excited to chat with Liz about the decision to go No Photoshop! with this shoot and the new policy my company has regarding retouching. So join us on the call tomorrow –  you don’t want to miss this!

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Spotlight on: Alejandra Ramos, Part 2

Back on the blog for Part 2, Alejandra Ramos is our resident saucy chef who we love and adore. She not only emodies the real natural woman, but also shares her tips on sexy and effortless entertaining to help you create your next happy successful affair. (You can also check out Alejandra baking up some more sexy and a cherry chocolate cake in Part 1, here.) christa_meola_photography_nude_new_york_boudoir christa_meola_boudoir_nude_photographer_new_york_1 christa_meola_boudoir_nude_new_york_photographer_0002 christa_meola_photographer_new_york_boudoir_nude christa_meola_photographer_new_york_boudoir_nude_003 christa_meola_nude_boudoir_photographer_0000 christa_meola_photographer_new_york_boudoir_nude_009

 Alejandra’s Top 5 Tips for Sexy & Effortless Entertaining

Schedule Time for Yourself
It’s important that you feel confident and beautiful when hosting a party, but that can be tough to do when your hair is still dripping wet or you’re covered in splatters because you didn’t have time to change. I always set a hard stop time for myself a couple hours before the party starts. When it hits, I stop whatever I’m doing, and go shower, get dressed, and do everything I need to do to feel amazing before the guests arrive.

Be Daring with Your Guest List
That guy you have a crush on, or the girl from your yoga class you would love to be friends with? Take a chance and invite them! I think there is no better way to get to know someone, or for them get to know how fabulous YOU are. (This is actually how my husband and I started dating. So you never know!)

Set the Mood
Remember that parties aren’t just about the food and drinks–think about other ways you can make the event feel a little extra special.  A weekend brunch calls for fresh flowers and wide open windows, while a sexy cocktail party practically begs for dimmed lamps and lots of candlelight.  Music also plays a big role. Try to create a custom playlist ahead of time or use a streaming app like Pandora or Songza to match the music to your food or theme.

Keep a Few Secrets
I never reveal my menu or any of my party plans before the fact. It creates an element of surprise, and gives me freedom to change things without worrying about disappointing anyone. It also means that if something didn’t work out how you planned–say a broken cake or burned side dish–you can just toss it and nobody will know!

Accept Help
You may be the host, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. Have a friend who loves to mix drinks? Let him play bartender! Not crazy about baking? Ask a friend to bring a pie from that bakery near her house. Taking a few of your not-so-favorite things off your plate, will allow you to shine and create the best experience for everyone (yourself included!).

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Thank you Alejandra! I’m looking forward to putting those tips into action soon, especially No. 4 – how did I never think of that?

More gorgeous pics of you-never-know-what’s-coming-next soon…

xoxo, Christa

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Mr. & Mrs. Economopoulos, a New York City Elopement!

“To be someone’s first love may be nice, but to be their last is beyond perfect.”

Saying YES to marrying Costaki Economopoulos back in August was an easy choice to make.

Whether or not to elope, however, was a tough call. But once we made the decision, it felt so right.

The location was an easy pick. We met in NY, fell in love in NY, live here and LOVE this city.

We wanted our wedding to be memorable, fun, light, quintessential New York City, and us.

Eloping in the city, just by it’s nature, was immediately so romantic, fun, beautiful, and sexy. And most of all, just so perfectly us.

We had just two weeks to plan it.

Even so, it came together smoothly. The only thing that really mattered, we got right already. Costaki and I are the perfect match for each other, and we each were marrying our favorite person on earth.

I was in California at an event until just a few days before the wedding, so we did most of the planning by phone and purchases online. My friend Natasha laughed at me, saying that only I would be planning my wedding while at Tony Robbin’s “Date with Destiny.” So appropriate!

Our wedding day started in a beautiful suite at the Surrey Hotel, a relaxing bath for two, and late breakfast in bed with my sweet hubby to be. It was a crisp clear day, about forty degrees, with a beautiful blue sky.

We had two photographers for two different parts of the day. We loved having Heather Waraksa shoot the daytime getting ready shots, wedding portraits and ceremony pics. Jerry Zalez did all the post-ceremony pictures. They both did an amazing job, and we couldn’t be happier with the photographs!

Heather’s pictures immediately follow. Jerry’s farther below.

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The stylists arrived around noon, as well as my assistant, Jerry, and it made me so happy to have my whole CMP team there. My mamma arrived also, our one and only guest. She helped me get ready in the separate bedroom suite area, so Costaki wouldn’t see me, while Heather took beautiful portraits as I was getting dressed.

Costaki had chosen the same tux his dad wore to his parent’s wedding in December 1966. Costaki explains: My folks had one of the best marriages I’ve ever seen, and I wanted to be connected to that. Plus, I love and miss that guy. I strive to be like him in life. To be a great husband. To be a great dad. To be a great guy.

I just loved that sentiment so much, and we took a cue from his dad’s retro tux to inspire the style of the entire wedding. Vintage and classic.

Here, Costaki and my mom are making sure his pocket square is just right and exactly like his dad’s.

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The one day I was in LA before the Tony Robbins conference, my friend and stylist Grasie Mercedes went shopping with me to find THE dress. We didn’t have an appointment, but fortunately, the boutique we went to squeezed us in for a few minutes and a few dresses to try on. Luckily, the last one was just IT. I absolutely loved it and didn’t want to take it off at the end of the night. Thank you Grasie!

christa_meola_costaki_economopoulos_8 christa_meola_costaki_economopoulos_111How can you say no to heart-covered high-heeled shooties? You cannot. So it was Badgley Mishka’s (below) for the ceremony, and the rocking shooties (above) til dawn.

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My mom is here helping me fasten “the pearl.” This necklace is a family heirloom and has been passed down and around from bride to bride in Costaki’s mom’s family. His mom wore it on her wedding day too, and I was honored to be a part of that.

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Look at that face. Costaki is the sweetest, sexiest, smartest, funniest, most adorable, thoughtful and loving guy I know. I’m a lucky girl!

christa_meola_costaki_economopoulos_000012Every step of the way was such a little memorable story in itself, but if I have to choose my favorite moment, it’s the evening before our wedding trying on the dress at the tailor’s in the tiny dressing room with my mom, and Ava (my beloved little 5 year old step daughter), and Costaki sitting nearby. I had given Ava the big task of making sure Costaki didn’t see me in the dress. She ooh’d and ahh’d at the gown and snuck her way into the tiny dressing room, crawling under the curtain. She helped me put on my shoes. She made sure daddy wasn’t looking. My mom was there too. It just felt so cozy, so loving. It was the happiest moment of contentment. All I needed was right there. My family.

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christa_meola_costaki_economopoulos_003Costaki’s favorite part: When Christa talked me out of worrying about the wedding. She said it’s going to be fine, whatever it is. It took the weight off and I enjoyed it after that. Plus it spoke to what a cool chick she is. To think that. And to recognize that I needed that.

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We hired the coolest vintage ’69 NYC taxicab, and an even cooler driver, Peter, to drive us around (see credits below). We loved the cab and driver and had so much fun. Peter had thought of everything… he decorated the car with a wreath and seasonal greenery, brought a special white marker for us to write “Just Married” on the back windshield, and had waters and bubbly in a champagne bucket in the backseat. Man, we had a blast riding around in that car!

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When we arrived at the Met just before the ceremony, we realized we were both starving, so we grabbed a hot dog and warm pretzel… so satisfying and yummy.

We chose the Met because it’s iconic. It’s beautiful, sacred, gorgeous, and it’s just my favorite place to be in all of New York. It’s a unique choice too because, well, no one gets married there really. They don’t rent out the space to “wedding parties.”  But we were’t really a wedding party…

We were super nervous that we might get kicked out, but once inside…

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…we went about our business and straight to the pre-determined perfect spot, where we enjoyed a beautiful albeit very brief ceremony and celebrated every step of the way!

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After the ceremony, we rode around the city, played in the snow a bit and stopped for cocktails at Carmine’s, the site of our first blind date.
Note: all photographs that follow by Jerry Zalez.

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Ok, Costaki, c’mon. Did you have to make it look so hard?

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We continued the evening with a fancy pants late night dinner and running around the hotel. Back in our suite, we exchanged longer personal vows, looked fondly back on our day, played and laughed til dawn.

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Saying it was a memorable and beautiful day filled with meaning and love feels like such an understatement. It was all of that, and it was perfectly us.

And although we eloped somewhat privately, we had the presence of love from so many, and couldn’t have done it without the help of them all!

We truly loved every vendor we had the pleasure of working with, and felt like everyone who was a part of our wedding was perfectly cast. Each person felt like an old friend or family member, and was so personable and giving of their time, taking such special care to give us a wonderful experience.

Thank you for adding such warmth, kindness and love to our day!
We’re forever grateful.
Love,
Christa and Costaki Economopoulos
Daytime and ceremony photography
Heather Waraksa is such a talented photographer. We absolutely LOVE the photographs! She delivered exactly what we wanted in pictures: authentic, timeless, fun, simple, soft, and beautiful moments.
Post-ceremony photography
My dear friend, Jerry Zalez, did the photography from The Met onward and such an incredible job! A great talent for capturing real and endearing moments.
Officiant
Reverand Will - what a great guy! He was willing to do something risky and made the ceremony completely our own.
Vintage taxicab
Peter at Film Cars was like an old school buddy of C’s. Super relaxed and so dedicated to us having a great time. He had water and bubbly in a champagne bucket in the backseat for us. Nice touch.
Tux
The gentlemen at Jack Silver’s tux shop had the greatest of patience with our trying on every tux in the joint and making sure C looked like a million bucks.
Rings
Ask for Mel at Wedding Ring Originals. You’ll love him. He’s like your favorite uncle who’s always telling great stories.
Birdcage veil and crystal hair comb
These pieces were custom-made by the most adorable older woman, Basia, who works from her home, and is like an aunt who fusses over you with great care. 212.874.6720
Hair styling
Griselle Rosario is on my stylist team for CMP, and is one of the most talented and fun stylists you’ll ever want to meet.
Make-up artistry
Another essential part of my stylist team, Kristin Mirabelle, is my go-to for creating the most beautiful natural look. Love her and her work.
Stylist
Grasie Mercedes rocks my world and makes me look and feel beautiful every time we go shopping or work together.
Tailor
The experts at Mandana Boutique went above and beyond to do wonderful overnight tailoring on my dress and made it fit like a glove!
Cake
Local bakery Soutine created the most delicious cake and were generous to accommodate our mini two-tiered buttercream cake request.
Bouquet and cake flowers
Taylor at Fox Fodder Farm is a sweet and talented Brooklyn artist, who created exactly what we wanted, flowers that were a bit messy and wild.
Suite decor
Lastly, thanks to my awesome mom for making our suite feel festive and gorgeous with wreaths and romantic votives.
Dress and slip
BHLDN

 

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Spotlight on: Alejandra Ramos

Such a pleasure to photograph the gorgeous and lovely Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert fame.

Among her many TV appearances, Alejandra has been featured alongside the likes of Emeril and on Dr. Oz. Her thoughts and feelings on cooking, hosting and eating are exactly aligned with our philosophy here at Christa Meola Pictures:

“To me, cooking is about pleasure, comfort, and seduction. I love to create and serve food that’s decadent, abundant, and just a little bit messy. I love long meals with lots of great conversation and very few rules. 

I don’t have the patience for perfection, and much prefer when things are just a little bit wild…it keeps guests from feeling intimidated, and encourages them to dig in and get lost in the flavors and just enjoy the moment. There’s absolutely no room for guilt or inhibitions at my table!”

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Even more of Alejandra’s sauciness on the blog soon.

Lots of love and yummies in your life,

xoxo Christa

ps. Alejandra was sweet to share her secret recipe with us for her Seriously Sexy Cherry Chocolate Cake featured in this series.

 

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Interview with TWIP

While I was up and gettin’ married this past December, the interview I did with This Week in Photography was posted.

It’s 45 minutes and PACKED with no-holds-barred info, so I didn’t want you to miss it.

The show’s gracious host, Frederick, said it was one of the most educational interviews he’s ever done. Gosh, what a compliment.

We discussed how I got started photographing women, my entire process, making women feel comfortable, how I work with my assistant, pricing, gear, what I do at the sales session, what’s next for us in 2014, and so much more…

So grab a cup of coffee, and I hope you enjoy!

xoxo Christa

CLICK PLAY BELOW TO WATCH THE INTERVIEW

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Nude, with Goosebumps & Gold Leaf

A recent session in NYC with a Chicago mom of three. She was inspired by an Esquire cover of Rhianna covered with leaves, but we opted to play with gold leaf…

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I love naked simplicity…

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More simply natural fine art nudes in the archives, and coming to the blog soon, from California to NYC to Spain!…

Stay tuned,

x Christa

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2013, A Year in Instagram iPhone Pics

Whew! It’s a few hours til midnight on 12/31/13, and I just finished my favorite year-end exercise of listing all the magic moments of the year!

2013 was packed with amazing moments and full of shoots, speaking, travel, girlfriends, family, so much fun and a ton of unexpected gifts… including the biggest one of all: Costaki and I got married!
 
So before heading out to ring in 2014 on this chilly NYC evening, I thought I’d share some of these favorite 2013 moments with you via Instagram, mostly captured with my iphone (except where noted).

Pictured above:
Engaged to my love in Hawaii / enjoying champagne and confetti with girlfriends on the Hudson / making it work at a photo party in AC / giving away a Canon 5D camera / Married! 12/19/13 NYC (by Jerry Zalez) / with a vintage cab ( by Jerry Zalez) / shooting with Regena Thomashauer / shooting and teaching a workshop in Seville (shot with Canon) / big thank you squeeze to my associate photog Jerry for taking our wedding pics / masterminding in style in Portland with my girls! / Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC with the fam / my birthday cake, designed by Ava (at 4 yr’s old)…

Below:
Signing prints for collectors / featured shooting on NBC’s Inside Edition (shot with Canon) / fam trip to lake house for summer fun / catching up with Chase Jarvis at PhotoPlus in NYC / my book is now published in 4 languages! / ice cream party / giving the new MOVi camera rig a spin with Alex Buono’s help / on a chilly photo shoot in DC / kicking back on our rooftop / Batgirl, the Mad Hatter, and a witch go trick-or-treating / on a date night with the hubs to see a broadway show / loved speaking and teaching in Sevilla, Spain (photo by Marieno Leiva)…

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Below:
My gorgeous man before we took an incredible bike ride down a volcano! / signing books at PhotoPlus / hosting a spreecast for photographers / prepping to teach the Wildcat Nude Photo Workshop with Kim Weston in Big Sur / chatting at length with a personal hero, Chazz Palmenteri / sneak peek of my mom’s 61st birthday photo shoot / shooting and getting those garters just right / sharing gratitude and enthusiasm with photog students (by Javier Isorna) / a stolen moment of chilling on a hammock with my lovable pup / my favorite place of inspiration, The Met / more inspiration at Tony Robbin’s Date with Destiny, Palm Springs / Coney Island, nothing beats family time!

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I hope you take some time to look back on 2013, have a glass of wine, sit back and let your mind wander (you can use the help of photographs or a calendar to jog your memory), and write down all of the magic moments, no matter how big or small.

You’ll be surprised at all that you’ve packed into 365 days… all of the wonderful little everyday moments that take your breath away and create the texture of a beautiful and precious life.

Sending lots of love,

Christa

ps. Join me on Instagram for a peek into my life… mostly iphone photos, silly moments, fun and inspiration! Now let’s take all that positivity that memories (and photographs!) evoke into the new year and have an amazing 2014!