Nearly Famous Pinup Wednesday ~ Carmen Lee

Carmen Lee // Website // Facebook // Big Star Vintage

Age: 33

Occupation: Musician, Vintage Stylist/Clothing Sales, Model & Writer

Where are you from: small town of 1,000 people - Amherst, Wisconsin

Favorite photographer to work with: 

My favorite shoot so far has been my shoot with James Stokes especially because it has always been a dream of mine to do a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ theme & shoot with a vintage airplane (plus it was special to me that my boyfriend was included in the shoot). It was also very refreshing to work with James because this was his first ever ‘stylized/vintage’ -themed shoot, so he was just as excited about it as I was. He made us feel very comfortable and at ease. I think he has a wonderfully creative eye and I can’t wait to see more of his stylized shoots. It was an honor to be the first of hopefully many more to come;-) 

Artist/Photographer/location of featured photo(s):
All photos MUAH – Carmen Lee
Photo #1 & 2: James Stokes Photography (guy in picture is Clinton Miller) taken at Taylor County Airport in Medford, WI
Photo #3: Trent Sherrill Photography taken in Milwaukee WI with Mike O’Hara’s 1932 Chevy Coupe
Photo #4: Dan Woolf Photography taken at The Symco Shakedown, Symco WI with Timothy Heintz’ 1958 Chevy Bel Air

Tell me about your featured photo(s). When were they taken? Why are they your favorite? 
The photo by Dan Woolf was taken in 2011 and is special to me because it was my very first photo shoot. I was vending with my vintage clothing store (Big Star Vintage) & playing with my rockabilly/country band (Carmen Lee & The Tomorrow River Two) at a local hot rod fest called The Symco Shakedown. I was talked into entering my first ever pinup contest (which I was sooooo nervous about and it seems funny since I can sing in front of people with no problem, but just to ‘stand there and look pretty’ really wracked my nerves) and to my surprise I placed in the Top 12 and got to do a photo shoot the same day at the festival grounds for the Miss Symco 2012 Calendar. I had always wanted to shoot with a Chevy Bel Air and the owner was nice enough to let me sit on the hood and even take some photos inside as well. From that day on I fell in love with modeling/photography. 
The photo by Trent Sherrill was taken in 2012 and is special to me because I had always wanted to shoot with Trent. I had heard of him through Doris Mayday and saw he was coming to a city near me so was very glad I got the chance to shoot with him, plus I love shooting with vintage cars and Mike’s 1932 Chevy Coupe was awesome. Trent is a great guy and makes you feel really comfortable. Plus his motto ‘Classy never Trashy’ fits right in with my style  
The photos by James Stokes were taken just this month. I placed in the top 10 in a contest for Drive-In Magazine and got to have a military themed picture in the upcoming July issue. I had seen James’ work when he took photos for my cousin’s wedding and I really thought he did a great job and had a really creative way of approaching photography, so I asked if he’d like to do the military theme shoot. I didn’t even know until I showed up that we were going to shoot with a vintage plane. It’s funny in a small town they just left the airport gate open for us and nobody was there so we could shoot with the airplane. It was always a dream of mine to shoot with a vintage plane and do a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ theme…plus I wanted some shots in my vintage American Flag dress! Drive-In Magazine liked them so much that six of the photos will be featured in the upcoming July issue which I am really excited about!

How long have you been modeling/enjoying photography?
I’ve always loved photography and fashion ever since I was little, my mom even has photos of me at four years old ‘posing’ for the camera. I struggled a lot with my body image and suffered from anorexia during my high-school years mostly because all I saw as a standard of beauty in the media was super thin women. I starved myself down to a very unhealthy weight. I only share this because it took until this point in my life to start to accept my curves and embrace my beauty inside and out. I got into modeling just this past year after I entered the pinup contest at The Symco Shakedown. It was therapeutic in a way because it helped me to embrace my body and I hope that by modeling I can give young women a positive example so that they don’t have to go through eating disorders or have negative body images. I just really hope that every woman can love and embrace their curves and that is why I love pinup/vintage modeling…because it does embrace curves and classic beauty.

Who are your favorite Pinup Models? Past or present inspiration? I, of course, love the ever classics like Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page. They have such wonderful curves and each has a style all her own. And my favorite modern pinup is Doris Mayday. She is so curvy and looks amazing in all her photos. And to top it all off she is a true sweetheart who is beautiful inside and out. And to me that is very important to balance your beauty on the outside with kindness and love on the inside. Doris may not know it but she inspired me to keep going when I was having a hard time dealing with some unkind people (and I only share this because I have heard so many stories of women just starting out in this business and having bad experiences, so I say this in the hopes that they will keep moving forward and not give up). I was nearly at the point of giving up pursuing modeling when Doris posted a photo of her wearing one of my band cardigans along with some really sweet and kind words. It came on the exact day that I needed it and she inspired me to keep going and pursuing my dreams!

What is some of your favorite clothing lines? Favorite Designers? Firstly, because I sell vintage clothing, I truly love anything vintage. If I can find that perfect piece that has character and fits my body well (which a lot of vintage clothing does since it seems to be made for more naturally curvy figures) then I definitely go with that, but I also love mixing vintage and modern pieces. Some of my favorite brands are Bettie Page Clothing, Stop Staring, Pinup Couture and Micheline Pitt’s line Deadly Dames. I’d also love to start making and designing my own dresses and hope to do so in the future.

If you could shoot with any photographer, who would it be? 
I have a shoot coming up in September with Dynamite Dames which I am really excited about and am also shooting with Roy Varga in July. It is also a dream of mine to shoot with Marilee Caruso. She has shot some models in some of my vintage clothing and I just love her use of color and her style, plus she is a sweetheart. I’m all the way in Wisconsin so that is quite a way from California but hopefully one day I can make it there! And I’d love to shoot with Miss Missy too because I love her style and she is a sweetheart as well. There are so many photographers I’d love to shoot with that my list is too long and I hope I get the 

chance to shoot with all of them!

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  1. I came upon your wonderful article thru James Stockes Photography on FB I too am amazed by his work! I am a newbie into photoghraphy and only hope to one day be half as good as James! Anyway I just wanted to say how gorgeous you are and I hope all your dreams come true as well! Christine

  2. She's such a sweetie..I'm glad more women are coming out about eating disorders!! She's beautiful!