CLIFTON, N.J. – When women walk into Celestina Ando’s photography studio they are usually nervous, even scared.
But Ando, who specializes in modern glamor and boudoir portraits, quickly puts them at ease.
In the serene space, on the bottom floor of her Clifton townhouse, Ando, along with professional makeup artists and hair stylists, pamper clients and ready them for their portrait sessions.
“We have fun, and that’s what it’s about,” she said.
“Women of all ages, all backgrounds, all with different stories, come here,” she told Daily Voice.
Many are from Bergen and Passaic Counties, including places like Bergenfield and Wayne.
Some are going through divorces, others are getting married, or want photos with their mothers, daughters or sisters, and some are battling illnesses, she said.
Ando said the most rewarding part of her job is “finding ways to be able to help women see themselves in a different light.”
And her favorite part of the whole process is when women come back for their viewing sessions.
“I think I get just as emotional as them sometimes,” she said. “I am so grateful, and it is so rewarding.”
She said, one woman fighting cancer told her, “the whole time she was here, she forgot she was sick.”
Ando didn’t start off as a boudoir portrait photographer.
She spent 20 years working in finance. But photography was her passion. She would do favors for friends and photograph their events, and in 2009 she established her photography business.
Ando said she realized she definitely made the right move when a package came from her grandmother. Inside was a photo of Ando’s mother, dressed in a kimono, taken 50 years ago during a beauty portrait session in Japan.
“It just signified to me how special these portraits are,” she said.
The portrait is now in Ando’s studio.
“I am just so glad she did this. Now I get to enjoy it for the rest of my life,” she said.