Category Archives: Personal

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Uncle Anthony & Me

Everyone has a crazy relative. That person that no one gets, that becomes ostracized. For my family, that was my Uncle Anthony.

My Uncle Anthony was my dad’s older brother, and he’d babysit us (my two brothers and me) when we were really young. We made up a nickname for him: The Boogan. Because he had a homeless look about him. He wore the exact same clothes all the time – dirty baggy pants way too big for him cinched up with a worn out belt and always the same plaid shirt.

But what really stood out was his hair. His hair was huge and a total mess. Like Einstein, but more homeless. It never looked brushed, despite him walking around with a black Ace comb in his pocket all the time. And he never really washed it.

During summers, Uncle Anthony would come down the shore to stay with us for a couple of weeks. First thing he’d do at the beginning of each visit, was offer us ten bucks to wash and cut his hair. Oooh, tough decision. My brothers never did it, but I always did. He’d hand me his black Ace comb, sit in the kitchen on the folding chair with a towel around his neck and a huge smile on his face.

Once the shampooing was over, I’d be grinning too, so happy to de-Boog-ify him. To give him this transformation.

Because underneath the Boogan was a really sweet man, playful and a child at heart. We played chess, laughed a ton, watched Popeye cartoons together. We’d go to the shore on the weekends, where he would take a bar of soap into the ocean to wash up. Yeah, that was the unsocialized part of him.

We were always just a bit scared of Uncle Anthony. It wasn’t just his appearance. He was so hotheaded. My dad said being in the war made him a bit crazy. I still have an image of him running around the yard chasing me with a big yard rake because I said motherfucker.

When I was thirteen, Uncle Anthony came to my holy confirmation, and it was the cleanest we ever saw him. He had slicked his hair back with byrlecreem and combed it back. He had a new lavender plaid shirt tucked into his pants. The black Ace comb tucked in his shirt pocket. He put his false teeth in. We took pictures.

And that was the last we saw of him for awhile. We were no longer kids who needed babysitting. We grew up, got busy. My parents split. No more summers at the shore.

Fourteen years later, my dad died. And I wanted to get back in touch with Uncle Anthony. He was like the next closest thing to my dad. So I called a distant cousin, who knew where Uncle Anthony was. I found out he was still living alone in the NJ suburbs. He hadn’t ever married, no kids, no job – he was living solely off Veteran’s disability.

I called him up, and he met us at Freehold racetrack where we were scattering my dad’s ashes. He was gentler – no more anger. Same homeless look though. It was good to see him, and connect with him as an adult.

I promised I’d come again.

About 5 years later, I travelled again from LA to NJ and visited his place for the first time. I was struck by how lonely his place felt. It was like a tribute to loneliness. Empty place, except a couch and a folding table nearby with some clipped coupons and a shop list, that just read: milk, bologna, bread.

Most striking was that the walls were completely bare except he put up magazine clippings of babies and kids happy and smiling all over one wall. It made me so sad. I interviewed him: “Why didn’t you ever marry?” “Never had money, couldn’t support a wife or family.” “Are you happy here?” “I like it here. There are no crowds.” Which is hysterical because the place is desolate, and he says he likes that there are no crowds.

I promised to visit again.

The next year, I went to see him again. This time, the place was even more bare but he had added a couple things. He now had a little doll with a washcloth over it, like a blanket. And another the exact same on the floor near his bed. And a standing fan in front of the taped magazine clippings on the wall, and he’d turn it on and watch the them flap in the breeze. He said, “They like that.” I kept thinking has he really gone crazy now? Are people going to think he’s a pedophile? Which was heartbreaking to me that he never got to nurture a family. Because he was always so great with kids and really good to us. He’s just been on his own. Not loved, not touched, not talked to.

I promised to visit again.

The next year on Christmas, I made him a pan of lasagna and wrapped a gift – a framed pic of him and me from my last visit. He answered the door in Longjohns and a winter coat. Crazy as ever hair. I tried to give him the picture but he refused. Maybe that was too much reality? He had a new pic up of Donald Trump’s baby with The Donald’s hair photoshopped on him. He’d take out his black Ace comb and do the combover. He’d sing little lessons: “One, two, buckle your shoe. You got no money, then ya got no honey.”

I remember he turned and looked at me at one point during this and in a different tone of voice said, “I know what I’m doing.”

It was a total lucid moment. This is how he managed his loneliness.

And I promised to visit again.

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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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My Fav Pic of the Year, plus FAQs

Shot during Aperitivo hour at The Savoy hotel in Florence this summer by my lovely friend Claire Mallett using her old Rolliflex. Although I’m usually attracted to joyful pictures that are full of joie de vivre such as the one above, I keep coming back to the pic below as my favorite this year. It’s not often I sit for a portrait, and it’s just so nice to have someone say, “I want to take your picture.” It’s so much a part of what I love about what I do.

The shot below perfectly captures my life, my mood, and my thoughts at this point in my life, and just me being me. It was the end of summer, so I’m hot, I’m sweaty, and I’m showing how much I loved cheese and wine during my stay in Florence. This was my last day in town, and I sat here knowing that the sweet life of Italy was coming to a close, at that point having made the decision to move to NYC. I will always treasure this time in my life as so uniquely special and wonderful and important.

To all photographers: remember WHY you do what you do and the priceless value that you provide to others. We’re not providing images. We’re helping to create the way someone remembers their life – the catalyst to treasured memories of a life well-lived – as well as self-discovery, self-expression, an experience, and most of all: emotion. When I look at this picture, I feel the emotions of that bittersweet moment- torn between the sadness of leaving Italy and the absolute joy, excitement, wonder and curiosity for what lies ahead!

TOP 5 FAQ’S
To answer last-minute Q’s I’ve received over the past few days, here are the Top FAQs.

1. I have something scheduled during the next few weeks. Do I have to be available at certain times, and will I miss anything?
You won’t miss a thing. I built this boudoir workshop for busy bees like me, and so the content is available 24/7 baby! Plus all the juicy content will be online and available to you for 8 weeks. Plenty of time for you to watch/listen/learn at your own convenience. How cool is that.

2. I have no experience. I’m a total beginner. Is this the right course for me?
Hell yeah! Talk about perfect timing. This course will short cut your learning curve and get you started with smart habits and powerful tips in a super fun way that will set you up for success with my very simple, totally easy, and budget-friendly approach. No experience necessary. We already have a bunch of beginners in attendance. Sign-up, and you will thank yourself!

3. I’m already a pro. Is this too basic for me?
Awesome! Well let me ask you: are your sales where you want them to be right now? are you creatively juiced and completely inspired? do you want to spend less time in post? do you have raving fan clients that spread the word about you like wild fire? are you having FUN with your business? if you can’t answer a whole-hearted HELL YES! to any of these q’s, then sign up baby! We’re going to bring your creativity and success to the next level!

4. Do I need any equipment?
No fancy lighting or camera equipment needed. You will need access to a computer and the internet obviously, but I highly recommend that you enjoy the entire course before thinking of purchasing any sort of new camera equipment. I’ll be demo’ing a bare bones simple approach as well as my favorite equipment, so you’ll get to see a bunch of gear in action and make a more informed decision about what you’d love to use (or not use).

5. I’m a male photographer and I see a lot of women comment on your webpage. Please be honest and tell me about the relative success/appropriateness of men vs. women in this industry.
Once you get to know me, you’ll laugh that you asked me to be honest because I’m 100% forthright. I understand your concern, and I’m here to tell you that although women have an innate advantage in having clients trust them off that bat, there is no other advantage and certainly no reason why you can’t be just as successful as your female counterpart. Plenty of men are signed up for the upcoming course, and I’ve received 100% glowing positive reviews from the men who took it previously. Here is what they had to say…

Just DO IT! Highly Recommended! Amateur or Pro, you’re bound to find out more about your own prowess as a photographer and businessperson!
Scott W. Robinson

Worth every penny, definitely recommend, what a treasure trove of information!
John P. Dunnigan

This was the best money and time that I have ever spent on pursuing a passion. Regardless of previous experience and genre, if you are interested in shooting portraits, this is the most comprehensive workshop A to Z that you will find.
Herb Irvin

This is a great chance to get very personal with a pro.
Ole Vangsgaard 

I am in love with my work again. Christa’s workshop is an intoxicating mix of awesome experience and practical advice that beautifully fleshes out all the areas that have held us back. Now we can fly!
Christopher Medak.

Highly recommend. Christa’s energy & care for her students comes through. Really brilliant tips. I’ve taken a bunch of courses that explore various methods but her’s fit very well with the way I want to work.
John Cornicello 

***UPDATE: The Workshop is SOLD OUT***

 

Enter your email here for free photography tips and to get dibs on seats for the next Online Workshop.

 

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Life Lessons From My Dog

My dog turned 5 years old today.  I’m stunned at how time flies by, and normally I don’t post personal stories on my blog, but I’m making a few changes ’round here 🙂 Smart as a whip and a born entertainer, my dog will paw at my laptop when I’ve been working for too long and drop a toy in my lap as a heavy hint. We celebrated his bday in Central Park, and I took some time to think about what I’ve learned from knowing this sweet crazy beautiful soul. We’ve moved about 6 or 7 times in his little lifetime, and yet everywhere we go, Gucci is known as the happiest dog on the block! I think that’s worth taking a look at.

So in honor of his 5th birthday, here are 5 life lessons learned from sharing my days with the most interesting, silly, affectionate, funny, happy, crazy little soul in the form of a stuffed teddy bear, my little dog G.

LESSON 1. Own who you are.
The little man is a toy poodle, 7lbs soaking wet, was born in California and named Gucci. We all know the stigma attached to that. Despite stereotypes, Gucci owns it, struts his stuff with a spring in his step and is unabashadly himself, winning over even the most hardened poodle-hating heart.

LESSON 2. Greet each day with ENTHUSIASM!!
From waking up, going on a walk, getting a treat, meeting a new friend, and chasing a ball… the simplest of moments are treated as INCREDIBLE EVENTS! Every day is worth jumping up and down, smiling like mad, and wagging your tail about.

LESSON 3. Do one thing, do it well.
G fetches balls. Period. And he’s crazy good at it.

LESSON 4. Love the one you’re with.
If you can’t be with the one you love…  whoever you are with is the most awesome fascinating being on earth. And where you’re at, is THE place to be.

LESSON 5. Give people a second chance – they’ll come around.
I’m glad Guccenzo has kept me around this long. There was a time when I wasn’t sure I’d make it as a dog person 🙂 the housebreaking thing was driving me mad, the dog kept eating my flip-flops and peeing on guests… but he stuck with me, I came around, and we couldn’t be happier 🙂

Lots of love and dog licks,

x. Christa and little G.

ps. Bonus tip from Guccenzo: Bark at bigger dogs. It freaks them out :-p

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Stepping Out

 

I wouldn’t call myself camera shy, but I have to confess to not having many pictures taken of myself.  As a photographer, I’m more comfortable observing a subject than being observed.  So for my birthday recently, I decided to walk the walk, be a woman not a photographer, break out of my comfort zone and go for it.  It was a beautiful hot Monday, my 25th (that’s right) birthday, and my last day in my photography studio in LA before moving out and ending my lease. With my sights set for moving to Italy in December, I could think of no better time for my own boudoir birthday-suit photography session to celebrate!

The photographer… Michael Chylinski, a long-time dear friend and professional drummer, who usually shoots landscapes and basketball hoops!  Hahaaa, he was more nervous for our shoot than I was!  Despite not being used to shooting with strobes, he was game to shoot for me while I gave him a tiny bit of coaching 🙂

Here are a few of my favorite Rated-PG pics.  This logo tank was a gift from a friend at the Grand Opening of my studio – seemed appropriate….

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Kinda shy at first…

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…but it didn’t take long til things heated up 🙂

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Seriously, it was literally hot as hell in my studio, and yes that’s sweat on my face – I decided not to retouch it.

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A behind-the-scenes shot reflected through the mirror in my studio – this cracks me up!  I’m not in a flattering pose by any means, but I love the moment Michael captured of me getting undressed, plus I love that you can see my tiny studio set-up: one main light and small fan – it’s simple and it works.  All pictures from this shoot were with this set-up.

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In honor of my new book coming out, “Exposed: Redefining Boudoir”

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And this is my absolute favorite.  I’m having fun, Mike’s cracking up, we see my studio for the last time and it’s just a great moment I’ll always want to remember. Plus, I love Mike’s socks – hahaaa!  Thanks Michael, for capturing my life authentically here. I won’t give you a hard time for taking your shirt off since it was sweltering that day.  I had a total blast and I’m forever grateful for this shoot and your friendship.

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Thanks also to my wonderful talented friend and make-up artist Shannon Jankula, who is such a pro at making women look and feel beautiful.

Quick announcement: PartnerCon just opened registration today for my shooting workshop in New Orleans on Thursday, Nov. 11th.  Limited to only 15 participants… so hurry here to register.  Also, they sold out the first 500 seats to PartnerCon (where I am one of the line-up of awesome speakers), but they just added more seats… so you can still register for that here.

Thanks all for visiting and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Lots of love and nudity,

Christa xoxo