It's not just beauty. 

It's valuing yourself.

Beauty is something that everyone searches for throughout their life. Whether it be in themselves, a partner or a material item. Michele Celentano, Freelance Photographer and one of Canon's Explorers of Light, is searching for beauty in women of all ages. She has enlisted me to help in the most inspiring feminist adventure exploring vanity. This is extremely important in a world that has criminalized vanity, and bastardized it to create an unattainable idea of beauty, and use it to shun individuals who don't fit the mold. Vanity has become unfair.  

Michele and I met just over a year ago working at Musical Theatre of Anthem. Michele has been photographing Jackie, MTA's Producing Artistic Director, and her family for years! So, naturally, Jackie invited the talented photographer to grace us with her presence. I had the honor of playing a "lead" role in the show (If there really is one in Cats) as well as design the hair and makeup! Michele and I clicked that day. Her creativity was introduced to mine on MTA's stage - and it was obvious that it was not to be our last encounter!

Michele Celentano is currently on a mission to make women of all ages embrace their vanity. She is spreading the idea that women need to feel beautiful. The photographer is giving women the opportunity to come get all glam, and have their inner beauty released throughout Michele's artwork. Women need to feel inspired and they deserve to feel beautiful. The project that Michele is undertaking is teaching women to find value in themselves. 


"I loath narcissism, 

But I approve of vanity."

- Diana Vreeland

Michele invited myself and Felipe to her studio Monday morning to partake in the second shoot of the photo series. So, we traveled to up the I-17 to her photography space - she is conveniently located at the I-17 and Carefree Highway! (If you're an In-n-Out fan, theres one right next door!) When we arrived, we unloaded our stuff into her newly rearranged work spaces. Michele and I began to talk shop while Felipe grabbed our fuel - coffee and baked treats for Daisy Mountain Coffee! Michele began to show me her inspirational photos for the series, and they touched me. Each a different, breathtaking look at a woman. So, when Felipe got back, I guzzled my coffee, and began to set up!

My first model arrived and I couldn't stop staring at her. I already had a very clear vision in my head what Michele wanted to bring to life. I introduced myself and dove into the makeup. I couldn't have prayed to the hair and makeup gods for a better subject! Sitting before me was a terra cotta canvas waiting to be painted. This model's skin was gorgeous! I gave her a slightly ethereal "no makeup makeup" with accents of maroon for warmth. Her hair, black and flowing down her spine, was ready to be curled and teased. When she was finished, she left my chair looking like a Goddess of the Earth. We entered the shooting space where Michele would wrap her in ribbons of fabric, it was truly breathtaking. The number of looks Michele's brain was able to design with two strips of Satin and a little tulle was astonishing. As Michele took photos, she would turn around the camera and show our model. At one point, our subject became very choked up "I really like how you're including my scars." She had been badly burned, and was left with a large amount of scarring on her body. I hadn't really noticed until that point. But I watched something beautiful take place - Michele took this woman's insecurity and transformed it into something beautiful. 

Later that day we had two more models, a mother and daughter. The mother, a former guru in the makeup world, now in her eighties, strutted in the room with her big, beautiful lashes and clad with jewels. She and her daughter were so wonderful to talk to. They both had so much knowledge about the "Classic" cosmetic lines. We discussed our favorite products and what it's like working in the industry. I had a connection with these women. Both were avid "natural makeup" lovers, so I wanted to push the envelope a little. I began with the mother. As I was finishing her smokey eye, she began talking to me about her false lashes, they were on her upper water line! I have only seen a few people do it - there is mass fear in the industry of blinding yourself with tweezers. Our model was obviously a pro. She looked nowhere near her age. I finished up by taming her curls with some uniform loose curls with a flat-iron, and sent her to Michele to be swaddled in satin. I then began work on the daughter. She couldn't stop talking about her mother and the love she has for her. I finished her navy smokey eye, but Michele brought in a photo of her mother, and needless to say, I had to fix. But the photo was truly jaw-dropping. And seeing the crystal blue eyes of a daughter tear up over her mother, really made me wanna hug mine. These women were so special.

Michele Celentano is an inspiration. She lives and thrives in her work. And every time she involves me, I leave feeling the creative juices rushing through my veins. She explained to each of our subjects that day why exactly she is embarking on this journey of feminist strength: she wanted to empower women, show them how beautiful they are through her photos; show wanted to capture their inner beauty on film. While speaking earlier in the day, she described the style of the shoot to be parallel with Vanity Fare. Well move over Annie Leibovitz, cause Michele Celentano is making Vanity Fair again.   

Michele Celentano

Portrait Photographer

34975 N. Valley Pkwy.

Building 8, Suite 152

Phoenix, AZ


Published by Simon Stylez