Hudson Valley Portraits | Female iconic Superheroes come to life!

It all started during a very cold winter day late 2014 while taking Hudson Valley Glamour Portraits of ilovekickboxing spokesmodel, Teresa Oxford. I was working for the first time with the incredible makeup artist Ivonne Rodriquez of litemakeup. I had first met her years ago when she hired me to take maternity portraits and then met her again during a fall wedding. I had an idea for a glamour shoot so I contacted Ivonne to see if she wanted to collaborate, she said yes! After the shoot, we all enjoyed working with each other and decided to come up with another photoshoot opportunity. I had a previous idea of working with body paint so I mentioned this and both girls were very excited about the possibility. Never having worked with body paint before and knowing Teresa’s beautifully fit build I roamed the internet for ideas of what to do! A few days later I saw an inspiring body painted female Green Lantern image and the lightbulb went off! I contacted Teresa and Ivonne (aka Eve) with the idea and a list of possible female superhero characters and within minutes Teresa started sending me names and images of other fitness models who she thought would be perfect for each character! After that, the seed of this project was planted! I contacted my cousin, Kim, who newly graduated with a B.A. in Fashion Design to help re-design the looks of each of the girls. I did not want a carbon copy of stuff already out there AND I wanted tasteful, classy wardrobes for all of the girls. We decided not to do airbrush painting so the costumes needed to be easy to paint with a brush and sponge technique. Immediately, Kim started researching all of these characters for her designs. Along with Lilly (my daughter), Arielle (another local makeup artist) and Lisa (backdrop painter) our little ‘team’ was assembled! The first paint started in February and finished late July!

All of these models are WBFF Pro Divas in the bikini, fitness and figure categories. They all have committed their life to a healthy, clean and active lifestyle! Incredible beauty both on the inside and out! If ever the comic book characters were to come alive, all of these girls would represent the characters perfectly!

I knew there would be questions from some of the more diehard fans of the comic book world so I am going to describe each of the images to help understand the project fully. And, to also give you a bit of a hands on, behind-the-scenes, what was going through my mind during each character’s session! Hope you enjoy!!


Batwoman – Lovely Jordan joined the group late and was thrilled to jump into Batwoman’s cape! Fraternal twin to Jessica (Ms. Marvel and Superwoman), Jordan is tall and gorgeous with girl-next-door sweetness! Ivonne, Lilly and I used matte body paint on her entire front and back because I wanted to be prepared in case we did back or turning poses. I ultimately nixed the idea of back poses because we would lose the Batwoman symbol on her chest. Ivonne added Batwoman’s signature mask and highlighted her lips with a bright red lipstick. Hair was done full and natural. She was so easy to work with! I asked Kim to illustrate a cape to go along with her pose and outfit. I placed this in post editing because I wanted to bring in that comic book drawing element into her character! @jdanielsfit23

Black Widow Superhero

Black widow – When Tiffany showed up with her husband, Sean, it was like meeting the dream couple. They are a drop dead gorgeous team! Both super sweet and Tiffany was eager to get her Black Widow on! Paint Ivonne and I used on her was peel off latex on the front side of her body. Latex paint is no joke; it has a strong odor and can be a monster to peel off! An extreme beauty makeup was applied by Ivonne and she also kept Tiffany’s hair long so it could whip around like a razor sharp weapon. Kim designed a form fitting body suit that shaped and curved all over! I had her do a bunch of fighting moves and knew I wanted a background shadow to add to Black Widow’s badass persona! I couldn’t have been happier with the way this came out! http://www.personalperformancepros.com/


Catwoman – Allie, has a special place in my heart! Last year, I got to photograph her a week before she officially turned WBFF bikini pro! She was so versatile during her fitness shoot and has a smoking sex appeal to her movements. Originally, I was going to have Allie be Sif from Thor’s world but working with Allie prior I thought she would make the absolute purrfect Catwoman! She has the perfect curve to her frame so it came in handy to bring out the flirtatiousness of Catwoman!! Ivonne and I used black latex paint on the front and sides of her body so her suit could mimic black leather. Ivonne went with a beauty makeup and natural hair. Kim designed a simple yet sexy body suit with a few rips to give her a battle look. I know Catwoman is typically a villain but she is one of the most well-known!


Elektra – I have known Teresa since 2010! We met after she contacted me to teach her photography while she was pregnant with her third son. After her son was born she decided to go back into the body building/fitness world. She was looking for sponsorship for her competitions and needed some fitness photos so she came to me! Teresa likes to tell me my photos were responsible for her success but it truly is all her! She is super photogenic and one of the best movement models I have had the pleasure to work with! I knew I wanted her to show off her movement skills for her Elektra and boy she did not disappoint…look at that extension, poise and what a body!! Ivonne used latex on front and back of her body but after all her movement during the shoot her latex was almost all peeled off! Ivonne concentrated on a fierce beauty look and kept her hair stick straight. Kim designed a completely new look for Elektra and concentrated on a minimal cutout design so Teresa could do lots of moving! ilovekickboxing.com


Hawkgirl – Sarah brought her mom along to her session and I absolutely loved having her there. She was like a little cheerleader cheering her daughter on! Sarah is such a pro and is one of the nicest people I know! She is so beautiful and incredibly easy to work with! After the session, I was truly hoping I’d get to work with her again (I did soon after for a bikini photoshoot, pictures to come soon!). Lilly and I used a mix of latex and matte body paint on the front side of her body. Arielle Williams was brought in to do the face makeups on Hawkgirl and Mystique and she did not disappoint! Kim created a minimal outfit for Hawkgirl but kept her signature, bright colors used in the Justice League. I placed shadow wings for a fun, different take on her costume! @health_coach_sarah

ms. marvel

Ms. Marvel – Jessica was our 2nd model to be painted. When we saw her we almost fainted, she is smoking hot! Think your blond bombshell with curves and a super sweet personality! She brought her soon-to-be-husband along, also a body builder and an all-around nice guy! Ivonne used latex on the front side of her body and put lots of curls for bounce. She added Ms. Marvel’s signature mask to the look. Kim, the designer, changed Ms. Marvel’s lightening pattern to make it her own and instead of Marvel’s red sash we added the red into her boots. I had her jump into her poses because I wanted her character to look like she was in flight. Jess did an outstanding job jumping and posing! I had her moving a lot and she was so accommodating and super patient! UPDATE: Congrats on your wedding, Jessica!! @jlkfit

mystique from xmen

Mystique – Janelle, also a bride-to-be next year, visited us while shopping in the city for her wedding dress. She was so much fun and extremely patient waiting for me to paint her from the face down to her hips and only the front side of her body. Arielle Williams stepped in to concentrate on face makeup and used wax prosthetic to create Mystique’s facial pattern texture. I knew I wanted to concentrate on the expression of Mystique and Hulkette (aka She Hulk*). She was such a posing pro and knew exactly how to embody both characters at once. If you cover one side of her, it really is like two completely different characters come alive! Loved working with her!! *SIDE NOTE: Why ‘Hulkette’? Well, we considered that she is not a complete paint, she shares the canvas with Mystique, plus both Mystique and She Hulk are from different comic book worlds. The intention was Mystique shapeshifting into She Hulk. Because of these factors ‘Hulkette’ was created, neither from one world or the other! www.bodyamibition.com

phoenix from xmen

Phoenix – I had the absolute pleasure of photographing Victoria’s boudoir session last year! She is a classic beauty with 100% natural redhead hair! I was so eager to work with her again! She’s a true sweetheart who has no problem speaking her mind! She also brought her mom along as her cheerleader! Both were so helpful, encouraging and super excited for the session. Mom was an amazing helper, so thankful she was there! Phoenix needed to have a fiery persona so Victoria channeled her inner diva to bring her alive! Ivonne and I used latex on the front side of her body. Ivonne put body and bounce in Victoria hair and applied a fiery makeup! @victoriasegrave_wbffpro


Spiderwoman – Sarah was the very first model to get painted! She traveled with her husband all the way from the state of Florida! They made it a lover’s weekend getaway and we were so thankful she made the trip up to us. Sarah is tall, really tall! Only 2 inches shy of 6 feet! I knew I wanted to use her long limbs to really bring out the Spidey character so I had her concentrate on long floor poses. We also did some standing up poses but saw something special in her final floor pose, plus her badass expression couldn’t be passed up! Ivonne and I used latex on the front side of her body only, and Ivonne added her signature Spiderwoman mask to go along with her super curly hair!


Superwoman – Jessica was gracious enough to step in for another model that had to drop out because of a contractual obligation. I needed a blonde bombshell and immediately thought of Jessica! Working with her on her Ms. Marvel I knew what her body was comfortable doing! I had my mind set on posing Jessica into one of her signature model poses, we tried other poses but I ultimately decided to go with my original signature pose idea! Ivonne used matte body paint on front side of her body. She left her hair long with a few curls and concentrated on a gorgeous beauty makeup! She was perfect as Superwoman*! *SIDE NOTE: Why SuperWoman and not SuperGirl? This was a deliberate change considering Jess is a WOMAN not a GIRL! Girl signifies ‘inexperience’, ‘immaturity’ and in some respects ‘naiveté’! We needed her to be a woman not a girl! @jlkfit

storm from xmen

Storm – I have wanted to photograph Tabitha ever since I heard of her through Teresa. Tabitha was Teresa’s coach, along with a few other of these pro models gathered, and I loved her soft and fierce look! I was super nervous meeting her and wanting to both pay respect to her and the character she was portraying! Kim designed an entirely new and unique outfit for Storm. Storm almost has no signature outfit in the comic books unless you count the yellow X-men suit that all the characters wear. What is signature about her look, her white hair and her intent expression when she’s conjuring up her superpowers! Ivonne used latex in a custom mixed purple and black. Her hair was spray painted white and I did the rest in post editing. There were so many incredible final looks for Tabitha that I couldn’t decide which to use so all the girls voted on the final look and I think it is perfect representation of Storm! @brick_housebodies

wonder woman

Wonder Woman – When I first saw Shannon in her pictures my very first reaction was ‘She is THE perfect Wonder Woman!’ followed by ‘How is her body humanly possible!’ Seriously, this woman is no joke! When she came in for her session she had started training for her next competition which is coming up this weekend (8/14-8/15, 2015). She is competing for the title of WBFF World in figure. I have been following her progress on IG and I cannot believe the transformation! She is going to rock that stage and we will all be cheering her on! Btw, if you’d like to watch the competition it’ll be available LIVE from Las Vegas on Pay per view!! Shannon may be fierce but she is also gorgeous from the inside out! So gracious and super kind! I loved working with her and hope I get the honor to do so again! Ivonne and I used a combo of latex and matte paint on her. Her hair was curled, tossed and teased and Ivonne went with a fierce beauty makeup perfect for bot Shannon and Wonder Woman! Kim kept her outfit traditional with a few new elements here and there. I knew I was concentrating on a ¾ pose instead of a movement for her character, and once I saw Shannon get into this pose I knew we captured magic! UPDATE: Shannon won WORLD Figure Title!! Congrats, Wonderwoman!! @shannonpetralito

Some final thoughts:

What were your editing decisions?
-As real as these models were I still wanted to bring in an element of illustrated art, therefore, my editing techniques made the final paint job ‘look’ like a drawing. Everything we did was deliberate to keep things classy, not trashy!!

Why fitness models?
-Obviously you are not going to find body types depicted in comic books without your model having some type of muscular physique! The models we used came from all walks of life, many are mothers and some are successful business entrepreneurs, some are even BOTH!

You took liberties with some of the costumes, why?
-We did not want to carbon copy everything out there. Kim came up with the designs in drawings after reading and studying each of these characters, past and present. We used her designs as a pattern to follow for each of the girls. Some designs were slightly adjusted to fit the models.

I really do not get this project…why do it?
-Why not? Nothing like this has been done, well not tastefully! We didn’t want to do yet another smut version of these amazing characters! We wanted to pay respect and homage to the woman superheroes we hardly ever hear about anymore! Where are the female superheroes, and why does she always have to exude sex, sex, sex? Females have come a long way; we are no longer slaves or pawns! It only makes sense for these superheroes to evolve from that outdated vision into a strong, independent, and intelligent, kick your butt to kingdom come persona! Some will love what was done (and understand it fully) and some will hate it. It’s perfectly fine; we appreciate the ones who appreciate the effort we made. But, more importantly, thrilled that finally SOMETHING was done! Hope more respectable depictions are created by other artists!! Wishing it isn’t going to get things DONE!

It has been such an adventure putting this incredible project together! A labor of love, hard work, sweat, some tears and lots of laughter and smiles! Getting to know each of these women has been an honor and blessing! Would love the opportunity to do more projects like this so if you have any ideas or suggestions please send them to me @ www.superheroproject.photographybycarlise.com

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