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Sexy Trend: Be your own Valentine

Laura Dachenbach

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“I think my portraits are fiercely feminine, and they hold space for women to feel empowered just being themselves. They’re truthful, soft, strong, and beautiful,” says Stef Streb, owner of Stef Streb Photography, a Columbus-based photography studio, whose photos might be described as “boudoir.”

Boudoir photography, with its varying contexts and connotations, has traditionally been an opportunity for women to create a private photo collection for their partners as an engagement, wedding, or anniversary present, or perhaps as a token of remembrance before a period of separation such as a military deployment.

“I struggle with the word ‘boudoir’ a lot,” says Streb, who admits to the intimacy of her portraiture style. “But most boudoir photography feels very hyper-sexualized and unnatural to me. I think there’s this idea that boudoir photography is to make yourself look as ‘perfect’ [or] as skinny, airbrushed, and posed as possible, and there are a lot of body issues that come up for most of us in that sort of situation.”

Streb has instead chosen to refer to her work as “goddess sessions,” reflecting the increasing trend of women to have an intimate photography session as a form of self-affirmation.

“Goddess sessions are a time to embrace and celebrate your body. I really believe that women benefit from seeing our bodies in images that show how soft and strong and beautiful we are without needing to be super sexualized,” says Streb.

Streb has been behind the camera since the age of 14, when her dad first taught her how to use one. A graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design, she interned in New York City and spent five years in fashion and ecommerce while working with models and portraiture. As part of her own personal journey, she also began using herself as a photography subject and posting her work on Instagram, quickly realizing the power of the experience. It was a power she wanted others to share. A little over a year ago, she made the leap into full- time self-employment.

Women ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s have participated in goddess sessions. Streb finds most of her clients via Instagram or personal recommendations. About half are planning to give the photos as gifts, and half are scheduling the session for their own reasons: to feel good about themselves, or perhaps to document a body journey. In keeping with the spirit of integrity, self-confidence, and ownership, she does not photoshop or alter any of the images.

“I’m here to show off the real thing. Rolls, cellulite, stretch marks, all of it. Because we’ve all got ‘em, so why not flaunt ‘em? I want women to feel empowered in their bodies—not like they have anything to hide.”

The photography experience tends to be a negative one, full of flaws and bad hair and awkward facial expressions, and the nature of the goddess session can exacerbate the usual nerves. Before a shoot, most clients are unsure what to wear, how to look, and how to calm her nerves. Streb understands. Booking a session is a conversation, rather than just scheduling a calendar time, where every question a client might have is answered.

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“I’m a big believer in looking like yourself in photos,” Streb explained. “So I encourage every woman to do her hair and makeup in whatever way makes her feel the most herself—which is different for everyone— but [also] to bring things to wear that might be what she wants to feel confident in, but doesn’t yet, because our shoot is the time to change that.”

The world of portraiture is often limited to weddings or professional head shots for work. The world of the camera phone has created the “selfie,” which in Streb’s view, is more of a self-reflection—a catch in a feedback loop, rather than a documentation of the subject in the present moment.

“When you hand over that piece of the experience, where you’re not seeing yourself reflected but actually being present in having your photograph taken, it opens up a layer of vulnerability that allows you to just be yourself,” says Streb.

Goddess sessions exist for women’s personal reasons, but Streb acknowledges her work does challenge traditional ideas of boudoir and the male gaze.

“We can see a woman’s body without it becoming a sexual object,” Streb says. “We can appreciate the female form for its inherent softness and strength. And we can be honest about what that form actually looks like. It’s ever-changing. There is no right body for a woman to have. All bodies are good bodies. And they deserve to be appreciated for carrying us through life.”

Interested in a goddess session? Visit stefstrebphoto.com. Check out Stef’s Instagram @stefstreb.

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Throwback: 42nd anniversary of “Great Blizzard of 1978”

614now Staff

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It has been 42 years since the "Great Blizzard of 1978" that wrecked havoc through Ohio Valley and Great Lakes.

The storm on January 26, 1978 dumped huge amounts of snow—up to 15 feet drifts in some places—and blew at near-hurricane strength, leaving nearly $210 million in damage.

On the eve of the storm, the temperature in Columbus rose to 41 degrees and .65 inches of rain fell. But then, a system of arctic air came through, producing some of the lowest pressure readings ever recorded in the United States mainland that were not associated with hurricanes, reports 10TV.

Wind gusts averaged 50 to 60 mph during the day as wind chills dropped down to about -50 degrees.

Visibility was near zero which stopped traffic, planes, and left thousands of people stranded.

In the end, the storm claimed 70 lives—51 of them from here in Ohio. This is still the strongest storm in Ohio history.

See below for footage of the "Great Blizzard of 1978."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wxy-sO-z_E4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5QNMhM1gbo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gqncQHOxZE
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Brick by Brick: Lego popup bar is the ultimate nostalgia trip

614now Staff

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With playsets encompassing everything from Harry Potter to Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Legos remain a go-to for kids of all ages. Now, the colorful little blocks are preparing for their greatest team-up of all—with booze, of course!

A new popup event called "The Brick Bar" is bringing the fun of Legos to a bar near you for an exclusive 2-day engagement this March.

Bringing over 1 million blocks to the party, the event organizers will transform The Kitchen at 231 E Livingston Ave. with unique lego sculptures, as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. Prizes for the best builders, DJs, and a ping-pong table (built entirely from Lego bricks, of course) are also in the mix for your nostalgia-driven enjoyment.

For ticket information, dates, and more, visit The Brick Bar Eventbrite page or follow them on Facebook.

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Hit Your Peak: 3 worth-the-drive ski slopes near Columbus

Asa Herron

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The cursed Ohio Winter Monster has made its presence known to all with its 5pm sunsets, snow storms, and seasonal depression for all. How are you going to fight back against the gloom this year? It may seem like it’s impossible to do fun things with your friends or to stay active in the winter, but I’m here to tell you that not all hope is lost. Finding a new hobby is a great way to kick your winter woes to the curb and start the new decade on a good foot.

Skiing can be a great way to casually exercise with friends and resuscitate your serotonin levels. Here are three high quality places to ski within driving distance of Columbus for you to check out.

MAD RIVER MOUNTAIN

Located in Zanesfield, Mad River Mountain is about an hour's drive northwest of Columbus. They have the most reasonable prices of all the nearby ski resorts. Plus, their on-property bar, The Loft, has 12 taps of craft beers on rotation to add a little more fun to the night. Mad River is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays, too, so you’re getting a full Friday night of flurries.

Mad River is home to over 20 trails (spanning 3.9 miles) and four terrain parks making it the largest ski resort in Ohio. They also bolster ten ski lifts (the most in Ohio) and are tied with Snowtrails for the largest vertical drop in the state with their 300 foot slope. An added perk of Mad River is that they just built a new $6.2 million facility in 2016 to replace the space they lost to a fire in 2015. Plus, most of their trails are designated “easy” difficulty. Mad River has everything you need to have a relaxing, affordable day of skiing.

Details on hours and pricing can be found at www.skimadriver.com.

SNOWTRAILS

Founded in 1961, Snowtrails is Ohio’s oldest ski resort. It is located in Mansfield, so also about an hour drive north. This resort is only slightly more expensive, with lift rates starting at $31 for midweek evenings and $52 for all-day on the weekends, with skis, boots, and pole rentals are $37. If there’s one day this month that you visit Snowtrails, let it be January 25 for their mid-season party. Get ready for an outdoor DJ, a custom built snowbar, and a fireworks show 30 minutes after the slopes close for the night. Not into skiing? No problem! The party is free and open to the public, so let your expert friends hit the slopes while you hit the spirits at the snow bar.

Snowtrails is the second largest resort in the state with six ski lifts and 3.3 miles of trails. The majority of their trails are designated “intermediate” difficulty, so more experienced skiers will enjoy their time here.

More information can be found at www. snowtrails.com.

BOSTON MILLS & BRANDYWINE

Boston Mills & Brandywine is the farthest ski resort from Columbus on this list, but great for a full weekend away. This quaint resort is in Peninsula, OH is a two hour drive from Central Ohio. Their pricing is $40 after 3:30 p.m. and $45 for an all-day pass. Staying another night? Come back on Saturday for $5 Late Nights admission from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM.

Boston Mill & Brandywine ski resort is known for being especially conducive to beginning skiers. They offer high quality lessons and will walk you through the process. This is the place to go if you have “stupid” questions about skiing, or just want to tube. However, they also appeal to veteran skiers as the majority of their 18 trails are designated “advanced”. Despite the high quantity of trails, this resort is much smaller than the other two, with only 1.2 miles of skiable trails, and their largest vertical drop being 264 feet. But for these prices? Could definitely be worth the trip.

Learn more about Boston Mills & Brandywine at www.bmbw.com.

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