The Team

Marilyn Riel

Studio Owner / Lead Photographer

Menagerie Connecticut Photography - CT Boudoir Pinup Romantic Lingerie Sexy Intimate Glamour Maternity Head shots Fashion Editorial PortraitureMarilyn Riel is the owner and lead photographer at her portrait studio, Menagerie Photography, in Lisbon, Connecticut. She opened her studio in 2014 and has become a well know portrait and boudoir photographer in eastern Connecticut. Her focus is on creating a unique experience for every person who books a session at her studio.

A graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, Marilyn has won awards for Best Artist and loves doing editorial style work as well as contemporary portraiture. As a member of the Better Business Bureau and the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce, she takes pride in operating a professional studio and being part of the local business organizations. Marilyn’s involvement in every aspect from the pre-shoot consultation, through the actual photo session, in the editing of the photos to the final presentation of images ensures each person is receiving her full attention and high quality service.

I have always loved photography but the way a women’s portrait session can empower and boost a woman’s confidence is something I feel is absolutely amazing. Below is a quote from one of my boudoir clients:

“It was so much fun. I cried telling about my confidence issues but I soon realized that I’m not the only one who feels that way. Today I felt beautiful. Today I felt powerful. Definitely makes me want to take a second look in the mirror and tell myself… I am worth every good thing that people say about me. I am awesome and beautiful and quirky. I need to own it. That’s me, Like it or Love it, it’s me!”

To be able to give a person the opportunity to reconnect with themselves is a gift that I hope to enjoy for many years to come.”-Marilyn


Steve Riel

Studio Administrator / Retoucher

Menagerie Connecticut Photography - CT Boudoir Pinup Romantic Lingerie Sexy Intimate Glamour Maternity Head shots Fashion Editorial PortraitureAs Marilyn’s right hand man in charge of all things behind the scenes, Steve is a highly skilled touchup artist and second shooter who specializes in marketing, web design and general studio administration.

He is a well-established yet self-taught touchup artist who has been involved in digital artwork since the 1980’s and started working with digital photography in the 1990’s. Steve considers himself old-school but has never really left the field long enough to miss a beat.

Steve spends many hours retouching each client’s session until their finished product is absolutely perfect. Though he is normally in the back office during shoots, he is there to greet clients when they come in and available for set changes and image processing during the shoot. He also assists with graphic design, social media, set design and other events at the studio.

I’ve always had a passion for art and creativity. I love what I do for our clients; having a hand in the process that makes all of these women, look and feel beautiful.  I get to express my artistic side behind the scenes, editing images to help emphasize the beauty and strength that all of these amazing women have yet to realize. It’s truly a pleasure to work with Marilyn and the rest of the Menagerie Team.” – Steve


Tanya Ballinger, Owner Makeup Artistry by Tanya

Makeup Artist / Hair Stylist

Menagerie Connecticut Photography - CT Boudoir Pinup Romantic Lingerie Sexy Intimate Glamour Maternity Head shots Fashion Editorial PortraitureTanya is a Connecticut based, freelance makeup artist specializing in beauty makeup. Growing up in New England helped to spark her passion for artistry. The blend of cultures and styles with splashes of natural beauty is her muse for her work. Her devotion, down-to-earth attitude and creative contributions keep her clients coming back for more.

Tanya’s experience in modeling solidified her love of makeup artistry and her decision to make this her business.  She has been working with professional models, business women, brides and ladies who want to look amazing for years and loves what she does.

“Never a heavy-handed “makeover” artist, my goal is to make each client look good and feel beautiful. This is instantly identifiable in my signature makeup style: gorgeous, luminescent faces that radiate from within. I simply believe in the beauty that each client possess. I will adjust my technique to answer the demands of different lighting set ups, scenarios and pressure-packed situations.  

 Having experience as a model in front of the camera has enhanced my understanding of how lighting and makeup work together for occasions such as weddings and photo sessions.  I also love giving a woman that extra boost of self-confidence that comes from knowing she looks her best for any special occasion.” -Tanya


Heidi Duff, Owner Details Hair Studio

Stylist, Surface Culture Artist/Sales and Education Specialist

Menagerie Connecticut Photography - CT Boudoir Pinup Romantic Lingerie Sexy Intimate Glamour Maternity Head shots Fashion Editorial PortraitureFor over 27 years, Heidi has been impacting the community by making it a prettier place one head at a time, not just behind her chair but through coaching local and non-local stylists and students.  She is the proud owner of Details Hair Studio LLC in Norwich CT where you can find her behind the chair, makeup station, facial room, nail station and in the office running the business. She is also a Culture Artist for Surface Professional Haircare where you may see her up and down the east coast. Heidi spends time volunteer coaching the students from her former trade school, Norwich Regional Technical High School.

“I’m proud to express my excitement for being in my industry for 27 years and counting. I feel it is incredibly important to do what you love- for if you do, it isn’t a job at all –   but it becomes who you are. As a stylist, owner and educator for Surface, I stay busy getting the most joy from seeing my guests happy every day, watching my talented team grow, and the thrill I get when I can see the invisible light bulb go on above the heads of the stylists and students I coach teach on the road and here locally in our community.    From my skills in cutting, coloring and straightening hair, to my updos, make up, facials and teaching, my main focus is to ensure that every experience a guest has had with me is not simply good but a great one. I’m hoping when you walk through the door of my studio or I have the pleasure working with you on a photo shoot you will feel this passion as well.” -Heidi


Christine Benvenuti, Details Hair Studio

Stylist

Menagerie Connecticut Photography - CT Boudoir Pinup Romantic Lingerie Sexy Intimate Glamour Maternity Head shots Fashion Editorial PortraitureOver the span of her thirty year career as a Cosmetologist, Christine has had the privilege of working in several salons.  During the first fifteen years of her career, her main focus was on hair, Primarily: Cuts and Styling, Color, Texture Services, Hair Removal through Waxing and Bridal Up Work.

“The last fifteen years has been a journey.  Through my “exploration” I have honed my skills (with continued education) as a Hair Stylist, developed my talent as a Makeup Artist and had the opportunity to work as an Educator for Marinello Schools of Beauty, as well as being a mentor for students at Norwich Technical High School.  I have had the honor of working with cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and individuals with developmental disabilities as well.  I am well versed in the care of hair pieces/wigs, and have a heart for helping those who are less fortunate.

In addition I have also worked “back stage” for theater productions and alongside photographers providing the various “Pinup”, “Bridal” and “Glamour” looks for photo shoots.

I do believe that my love for people, my faith, and passion for my profession, will continue to be the driving force behind the NEXT fifteen years.” – Christine