Port businesses offer unique promposal to area seniors

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Port-based seamstress Nancy Sinoway is working with local businesses to give high school seniors their dream prom pictures in the wake of cancellations due to COVID-19. Here, frequent Sinoway model Natalie Martinek poses in a photo by Port photographer Robert Salzbank. (Photo by Robert Salzbank, via Nancy Sinoway)

Any other year during mid-spring, Port Washington-based designer Nancy Sinoway would be working with her employees to complete hundreds of orders for weddings, bat mitzvahs, parties and most notably, proms.

“Usually we’ve got a million things to do,” Sinoway said. “Then, on March 7, the cancellations started coming.”

With large-scale events being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sinoway’s shop at 334a Main Street is now dedicated to creating masks for anyone who needs them.

“We’ve been making masks since the beginning of March, and I wanted to keep my girls working and making masks, but now the whole word is making them and moving along,” Sinoway said.

But Sinoway, a 45-year fashion industry veteran who has spent 14 years in Port, couldn’t stop thinking about the high school seniors in the area who were missing their proms.

“These poor girls, they missed out on everything,” Sinoway said. “They’re missing out on graduation, parties, pre-prom. Some of them have had these dresses since January, and it’s crushing to them.”

Sinoway then thought up a way for the seniors to get their much-desired prom pictures – in a socially distant way.

Teaming with photographer Robert Salzbank and fellow Main Street staple Port Washington Florist, Sinoway is now offering photo sessions for anyone wishing to make memories in a new program called Prom on Main.

Sessions will last one hour, with 15 minutes at the beginning and end dedicated to getting the student ready. A student will be expected to bring their own dress and shoes, as well do their own hair and makeup. Sinoway also says that students can bring their cap and gown if they wish to dedicate their session to graduation pictures instead.

The 30-minute photo session with Salzbank will then take place, with plenty of floral props from Port Washington Florists and even Sinoway’s own Volkswagen Beetle available for them.

“[Salzbank] has been my regular photographer for 25 years, and he does create true art,” Sinoway said. “His business was decimated because of the pandemic, and when I called him with this idea he was game.”

Sinoway says the sessions were designed to be done in a socially distant fashion, with 15 minutes placed between appointments in order to sanitize the photo area. Additionally, only Salzbank, Sinoway, the student and one of their parents will be present, and all but the student will wear masks. The senior and their parent will also be given free masks that they are allowed to keep.

“I think it’ll be great for these girls,” Sinoway said. “These are great memories, these particular photographs are something you want to put up on your mantle.”

As of now, Sinoway has scheduled 12 photo sessions, which will begin on June 20, and that 12 more are “feeling it out a bit.” Even if they don’t do a lot of sessions, she adds they will have tried.

“It’s not just us designers,” Sinoway said. “It’s florists, it’s caterers, it’s photographers – our whole industry was decimated. I’d say there’s not going to be a decent party until next February. But now it’s time to reopen, and we’ll do it safe for social distancing.”

The designer says that the Port Washington prom usually begins with a red carpet, where students are invited to strut as parents take pictures.

“We may not be able to offer them a red carpet, but we just want these girls to have their moments,” Sinoway said.

Those interested in booking photo sessions can go to nancysinoway.com/prom-on-main/. Sessions are $135 and will include five photos with minor retouching, with special retouching available for $25 per photo.

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