Inspiring Latina of the Week: Pinup Photographer Alina Vargas-Afanasieva

How did you get the idea to create a calendar with your photos?

The calendar wasn’t originally part of the project. One of the models, Miss June, the one for the majando cafe, is the editor of Pandora, a Dominican magazine. When I asked her to be my model, I didn't think of a calendar, but it eventually became that. Then there was the idea of donating the money raised from the calendar to a charity. It was beautiful in the way everybody pitched in and tried to help someone else.

Tell us about your models. How did you find them?

The majority of the Dominican population is black and mixed race. The minority is white but a lot of people want to make themselves “whiter.” One of the ways many people try to do that is relaxing their hair. It doesn’t make sense to me. So I decided I would do tropical pin-up with girls with curly hair and dark skin. And I didn't want them to be actual models. I wanted them to be regular women because I wanted to show that all women are beautiful. A pinup girl is a symbol of beauty and sensuality. 

Do you think your shoots make your clients feel differently about themselves?

I do want them to feel different about themselves. The rhythm of life is so fast. You’re always hurrying and you might lose yourself. Women have so many roles these days; you might be a mom, you’re a professional, you also have your partner in life. In my opinion, one of the things that you have to remind yourself of is the fact that you’re a beautiful, sensual woman. And here’s a picture for you to remember that. There is nostalgia about the 1940s and 1950s. It’s known for this glamour and elegance, so I thought it would be perfect to represent them in that way.