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{low down, throw down with Bombshell}

I was very excited for this week's low down, throw down because I had the opportunity to interview a local photography team that I admire and respect. I am proud to say I have gone to them for my very own Bombshell Pin-Ups (featured below).  Actually a two person team, John is the photographer and artist behind Bombshell and Carol Ann is the production princess who aids in helping choose a theme, wardrobe, hair and make-up, and so much more.

Their fairly new business, which specializes in Pin-Up girl photography, artworked in post processing to create that unique and authentic painted look of pin-ups done in the 30's and 40's, is booming.  Mark my word, this is just the begining of really big things for them.

Get comfortable and enjoy the interview I had with them.  Also check them out on Facebook and become a fan, www.facebook.com/bombshellgirls

Stay tuned also for another Maternal Lenser's Bombshell, after an upcoming session Sarah has with them too.

(meet Carol Ann)

Names: John Gladman and Carol Ann Zuk
Business Name: Bombshell
Location: Lawrence, Kansas

(meet John, the photographer)

Describe Bombshell in three sentences:
We take a photograph of a person and artwork it into an old-fashioned, airbrushed hand-painted style pin-up image. John and I believe every girl, from every walk of life, every race, age and body type is beautiful and it is our mission to prove it via the Bombshell™ pin-up image. We reach in and grab a girl's soul / essence and display it in print.

Describe each other in one word:
John about Carol: Explosive
Carol about John: Deep

If you two had to mud wrestle who would win and why?
Carol would win. John would be too distracted. All I would have to do is shake my booty a little and then he would get that glossy eyed look. When he looks down at my legs.... or my butt.... depending on which way I was facing at the moment..... I'd catch him off guard and boom! Down for the count!

What have you learned so far from this endeavor?
Women are often insecure and feel inadequate. The media has accomplished their goal of making women feel they are less than.... less than beautiful, less than sexy, less than enough for their boyfriends and husbands, less than other women, less than the girl in the ad who has it all and you should want it all too. It would seem a girl is only as good as she looks, and how she is supposed to look is young, thin and like the model mold we see in every ad. It's horrible and makes me sad.
I know I didn't truly love myself until I reached my forties. It has been a long process for me, and of course I'm still learning, but I can say I do finally love myself, regardless of how I look on the outside. If we, as women can't truly love and accept ourselves EXACTLY as we are, if we can't say, "Hey, I'm an amazing women no matter what my waist size, body type, no matter what the scales say," ... if we can't look in the mirror and love ourselves in spite of the way we look on the outside, how can we ever expect anyone else to love us? It starts from within, girls, and then it migrates out.

Yes, I want to save the world.... I want to save women, one Bombshell Girl™ at a time.
(this is me, Megan)

How did Bombshell come about?
We both love pin-ups. We have a Vargas book of pin-ups at home. One day last year, we were talking about how great the images were and we were flipping through the book. I had the idea of taking a photo and turning it into a hand painted look. I thought John could take any photo, even one by another photographer and do this to it. I knew John was so talented and had ushered in the use of Painter in the portrait photography world. I knew he had it in him. If anyone could do it, he could. 

We sat down in front of the computer to try and achieve a similar look like the Vargas Girls and an argument followed. I thought they should be light, fuzzy, pale faces, rosy cheeks, bright lips, bright colored eyes with a white background and a circle of light behind the girl.... fake looking that didn't look like a real girl. I wanted them to be "cartoony". We played with photoshop filters. When we achieved close to the pin-up style that I liked, John hated the image. He said there was no photo left. He felt it was out of focus, not good quality, oversaturated, poorly posed and looked like a filter was ran over them. "Well, a filter was ran over them," I said! So, we couldn't agree on a look. He said he needed to start with the makeup and styling, carry the look into the camera room with specific posing, lighting, and composition, and then finish off the look with artwork. "So, DO IT!" I said. He felt he didn't have the right equipment. So, we walked away from the project. This was back in December of 2009.

May 16, 2010, John discovers a vintage store here in town. He comes home all excited. "Carol! I love this yellow dress and I want to see you in it! Come on!" So, we head over to the vintage store and the dress fits me like a dream. John is smiling ear to ear as we are checking out. I look down into the glass checkout counter, and see a Vargas book. I ask to see it. Jessica, the owner of the store; Susan, the owner of the vintage clothes; John and I are oogling over the book. Oh, they are fabulous! Vargas was amazing! Yes, he really knew how to capture a woman! That was the days when curves were in and beauty was seen in every woman! Sigh.

A long conversation and 20 minutes later, John and I were driving home in his truck. I start in again. "Too bad we can't create a Vargus style pin-up!" I say. "It starts with the styling and makeup," John says. "So start with the styling and makeup!" I say. John says, "I'm not a makeup artist, nor a hair stylist. That makeup is perfectly applied. It's applied heavy and the eyes have false eyelashes. It's a total look." I say, "I can apply makeup and I'm great with hair, but I really think you can paint that makeup on!" No, makeup can't be painted on. Yes, I think it can be.... yada, yada. Another disagreement. So then I say the magic words.....the words that led to a Bombshell creation... "WELL, I GUESS I WILL JUST HAVE TO GO OUT FIND MYSELF ANOTHER ARTIST WHO CAN DO MY PIN-UP CARTOONY LOOK THAT I WANT!!!!!" John says, "Oh, I CAN do it!" Obviously, you can't! Yes, I can! Ok, then you WON'T so I will find someone else!

By now, we are pulling in the driveway. I put on makeup and my yellow dress at John's request. He pulls out his vintage camera for a prop. He takes me in the camera room, tells me how to pose. I already have the expressions down since I use them in everyday life! We finish the shoot, then sit in front of the computer. Poor John, I am bossing him around again, telling him what I like.... make her eyes bluer, make her cheeks rosier, maker her legs a little longer, enhance that circle of light behind her.... he is patient with me. What a guy! I'm a lucky girl, I know! Hours pass. I'm very critical and picky. John is very critical and picky. He is finished. Ok, how about this? Finally, done! YES! I LOVE IT!!!!! I got tears in my eyes when I saw that first Bombshell™ pin-up image. PERFECT!!!

Whaa-laa.... that evening....BOMBSHELL WAS BORN! (And yes, John paints on the makeup! Even he didn't think he could do that. Sometimes he amazes himself ha!)

If you could photograph a famous person or celebrity as a Bombshell who would it be and what theme would you like to see them in?
Oprah. A Burlesque theme... fishnet hose, a feather in her hair, garters, a corset, etc.

I can also see her as a 60's gogo girl... boots, mini dress with a color block pattern, fringe or a boa on the hemline, bridget bardot big hair.... but I like the Burlesque theme better. I would choose Oprah because I think she is a beautiful, confident older woman. I believe she has fought years of insecurity with her weight and part of me wonders if she still doesn't see herself today as the thoroughly beautiful and sexy woman she is.

I know our readers are going to want to know, do you travel, are you eventually going to take Bombshell on the road?
Definitely we will eventually travel. We need an Air Stream first to hold all the wardrobe and photography equipment and our office equipment including the giant printer! We don't have the funds to buy one yet, but plan to ASAP. We will take a vintage one and gut out the inside. Then we will fill it with swanky 60's mod style furniture. White leather half circle couch, a round huge ottoman, old fashioned dressing table, a swag light. It will have the Carol Ann logo on the outside. We like the metal look with the Bombshell™ pin-up painting which resembles noseart on a Bomber jet plane.

We will pull up to a town and have Bombshell parties out of the Air Stream! We will go to Art fairs, First Fridays, all kinds of events. We will also host our own events in large cities all over America!

What does beautiful mean to you?
Beauty starts with self confidence which is apparent immediately upon meeting someone. Self confidence is not arrogance. After working with the girls in the studio shoots, I now look at women differently. I know how John sees them. I see a look, a pair of beautiful eyes, an expression, a fabulous smile that lights up her face, the way a girl moves when she glides through a room, a style, grace, the way she throws back her face when she laughs hard. I notice it all now. It's all beauty.

Believe me, girls, when you think that it takes being thin / having blonde hair / having large breasts / having a nice booty / having _____ (fill in the blank) to be beautiful and desirable, then you have just limited yourself, put yourself into a box, and discounted your unique, you-ness to nothing. You think we should all be perfect and all look just like each other in a certain mold? Really? No. Perfection is really imperfection. Character comes from imperfection. Something as complex as humans can't be wrong. We are all perfect just as we are physically. Live it! Love it! Wear it! Be it! It's you! Move on.

If they made a movie about your lives what would it be titled and who would play you?
Pinned Up. John = middle aged Sean Connery. Carol = Charlize Theron

 Tell us one sentence to describe your photography?
Reinventing an iconic art style.

What is your greatest post processing tip that you are willing to share?
John is all about posing, lighting and connecting with the subject. It starts in the camera room. There is only so much you can fix once the picture is snapped. When you do this, post production is a breeze. Post production: keep it simple. Pick a couple tools and learn to use them well.

Tell us the best advice you've ever received.
Carol: I was told to listen to the Secret and meditate. It changed my life.
John: Do what you love, and love what you do and the money will follow.

What is your favorite thing about what you do?
The look on a girl's face when she first sees her image! The impact the session and the image have on her for weeks and months to follow.

(another one of mine with 11 week old baby Lucy)

And lastly.....when we started the maternal lens all of us filled out this questionnaire and shared our answers....now it's your turn :)

What is your favorite word? Carol: babycakes
John: abundance
What is your least favorite word? Carol: whatever
John: can't
What turns you on creatively spiritually or emotionally? Carol: meditation, the drive to help others and make a difference in the world.
John: a challenge. He likes to attempt to always take his artform to a new level.
What turns you off creatively spiritually or emotionally? Carol: pretentiousness and stupid cuz you can't fix stupid!
John: negativity
What sound or noise do you love? Carol: a child singing
John: the Mac chime when it starts up!
What sound or noise do you hate? Carol: the alarm clock, a really loud room
John: a car alarm
What is your favorite thing to say when you get mad? Carol: I'm so pissed!
John: nothing. Nothing at all. Silence isn't always golden!
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Carol: actress John: advertising, film director
What profession would you not like to do? Carol: President of the good ole USA
John: nothing to do with a cubicle
If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Carol: Come on, let's go meet your grandpa Sam that you never knew.  John: If I were you, I'd plead the fifth.


  1. Oh...I think I'm in love.

  2. I can't wait to have mine done.

  3. OMG, thank goodness this isn't too far from St. Louis...what a wonderful anniversary gift for my husband. These are AMAZING!!!

  4. Amazing! I love this & find it sooooo inspiring! Thanks!!!! Best Throw down yet!

  5. For those of you really considering doing this, say I referred you for a special discount.
    It is well worth the drive, and Lawrence, Kansas is such a fun little town to stay in anyway.
    -Megan Rogers

  6. I LOVE the premise behind this! Every woman IS beautiful, and it is so great to see a business that truly wants to promote that!

  7. These are amazing! I love it!

  8. Love, love, love the pinup girl look! These are awesome!

  9. Wow, this low down brings in a whole new style of photography. Very impressed by the final product. John and Carol have captured this style. The interview was very good and love the little back story that we got from Carol. She has several smart and witty opinions. Wish more women could be as secure as she is. One of my all time favorite low down throw downs of all time. Very well done ladies!

  10. Love it! The perfect way to ring in my next birthday! Have my consult scheduled and hubby is on board. Now to find decent airfare...

  11. Oh wow I absolutely adore these, especially the brownie camera one as I LOVE box brownies! When are they coming to Australia????

  12. These are great!! I ♥ this style. Beautiful...

  13. ahem.... WOW! Love their work.


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