I think you've seen before that I love pin-up. It's my most favorite kind of photography project in the whole world. Yet so many women who would love to do a session hold back from doing pin-up because they just don't know how it works.
I'm here to tell you today how it works. Thanks to one of my recent pin-up clients, I can share for you here a little bit about what happens at a typical pin-up session. My beautiful client, Nellie D. was happy to let me share her images with you. Nellie D. just discovered the joys of a pin-up girl lifestyle. She came to me with a few ideas of her own and then gave me freedom to do whatever else I wanted. I love clients like her.
Once she made that first phone call, I answered some of her questions on the phone but then invited her into the studio to talk some more and look around. The most common questions are, What's the cost?, Do I have to bring my own wardrobe?, Does someone do my hair and makeup?, What about my belly?, Am I too old for this? Can I bring a friend? How much time will it take?
All these questions and more can be answered in a short girl talk session in the studio.
So Nellie came in and we talked for a little while. She showed me photos on her phone that she loved, she looked through my pin-up inspiration books and we used sticky notes to mark some of the pages that inspired her. We used books like Gil Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-ups, Anniversary Edition, and Vargas, and The Classic Pin-up Art of George Petty.
I showed Nellie my wardrobe. I've actually outgrown the gorgeous antique wardrobe that contains a lot of my costume collection and have spilled out into various antique trunks. We pulled out coconut bras, sailor dresses, cute candy bras, lingerie, waitress costumes and an assortment of vintage clothes as well as modern recreations courtesy of costume stores and Ebay. I tell everyone, I have a lot of costumes but I don't have every look in every size. But I am pretty handy with a clothespin and safety pins. We can usually make a lot of the clothing fit on a lot of body shapes with a little help from them.
Once we have an idea of the looks and themes we're going to want to create, I can usually make suggestions on wardrobe items that she may want to bring from home. She wanted to recreate the Grease Pink Lady theme with my Pink Lady jacket. So I suggested she bring in some leggings and a snug fitting top. So with a combination of her wardrobe and mine, we were able to create her Pink Lady look.
Some of the most popular looks are army girl, waitress, hula girl and happy housewife. We can do all of those.
On the day of Nellie's session -- she chose a session that includes hair and make-up -- she showed up ready to get started. I asked that she arrive with her makeup foundation on and her hair pre-curled to save time. Then the make-up artist got to work. Kim Dixon-Wilson was the extremely talented make-up artist who transformed Nellie into a hot vintage babe for me for this session. Some of the characteristics of vintage make-up and hair include red lips, cat's eye eyeliner and lots of curls in all the right places. I can't put on eyeliner to save my life so I'm very grateful to all the amazing make-up artists who help me on my sessions.
Once her face and hair were in place we got started on the dress-up fun. All of my pin-up sessions are shot on a seamless white background. It's a game of "imagine this" the whole session and we have fun with it. A lot of my images have my pin-up getting into some kind of peril in a sexy, cheesy way, often revealing a garter or upper leg area. My darling daughter/assistant was able to help with this one. This is straight from camera.
The idea we had was an inspiration from Gil Elvgren. We wanted her dress to get caught in a vacuum cleaner to reveal her upper thigh. I combined it with a photo of a vintage vacuum cleaner. Here's the finished product.
The backgrounds can be anything we can imagine. It took years and years of practice and study to learn the skills to achieve that final hand-drawn pin-up look. And it's an art I'm continuously working to improve.
The hardest part is finding just the right background or prop. A lot of my props are photographed separately on the same seamless white paper so I can combine them with my pin-up model. I started out trying to collect all these items. I scoured antique stores for vintage props and collected quite a lot of them. Many of them are in my storage unit next to the studio and I can run out and grab them during the session. For items that the pin-up will be holding, this is absolutely necessary. It's hard to "Photoshop" a prop into her hand. Items like irons, coke bottles, trays of food, etc are on hand during a session. But items that are separate from the model can be added after the fact. I've given up on shopping for some of these items and have joined a stock art company to pay for some of my backgrounds and props. The vacuum cleaner is a piece of stock art I purchased for this purpose. It's less expensive and less time consuming than finding a vintage vacuum cleaner and photographing it and then sticking it in storage, never to be pulled out again. I can re-use the image of the vacuum cleaner as often as I need to.
Sometimes it's as simple as scanning in a pretty piece of distressed paper like this one, and dropping it behind my pin-up (and getting rid of the phone cord of course).
During the whole session we're listening to music from the 40s and 50s, giggling, making cheesy expressions, sipping on coke in a bottle (if we want to), and having a great time. The pin-up parties are even more fun because your best friends are around you doing the same things you're doing. Nobody ever leaves a pin-up party feeling regret. It's more fun than a sleepover. And my pin-up parties have attracted young ladies, older, wiser ladies, pregnant ladies and ladies of every shape and size.
Now take a look at a few more of the images Nellie and I created, and then call me to set up your pin-up session. (830) 481-3944.
Lisa On Location Photography