Nov 8, 2011


TREND | Modern Pin-Up Photography


Betty Grable, by Frank Powlony 1943
Dating back to the earliest accounts of man creating any kind of artwork, there has always been an appreciation for the female form.  Early cave drawings and the oldest pottery ever found, shows images of well endowed women as desirable.  Pin-Up as we know it today dates all the way back to the late 1800s, however, it really took shape during World War II when soldiers would "pin-up" pictures of celebrity women in their lockers, celebrities like Betty Grable.

Betty Grable was one of the most famous early pin-up figures, primarily the photo by Frank Powlony where she is looking over her shoulder.  This one was known to be posted up in military men's locker's all over the world during the war.  Other popular figures at the time were Rita Hayworth and Dorothy Lamour, but when Playboy came out with Marilyn Monroe's centerfold in 1953, they had stepped beyond what Esquire had been doing and showed a full nude of a beautiful natural woman.

Playboy Magazine Dec. 1953
Marilyn Monroe's centerfold took things to a new level.  She was now America's number one sex symbol, and being shown in pin-up style photos.  This transition was not short lived, just the fact that it was Marilyn Monroe, the "American Doll", has lead pin-up to be popular once again.

Being a portrait photographer myself I have noticed an increasing number of women wanting to be portrayed in these retro scenes with a bit of an airbrushed feel to their images and in a surreal way.  Shown as the innocent "girl-next-door" who accidentally let a bit of her sexy side slip through at the moment the photo was taken.  There is another side to it too though.  It is not just that they are these innocent women wanting to let another piece of themselves be seen, but they are showing that they are comfortable with themselves in a way that they can let it show in front of a camera, something that will capture that moment in time, forever.  That is something that takes an incredible amount of courage and really goes back to showing a true appreciation for the beauty of a woman  One of the most beautiful things about a woman is being able to see her beauty herself, and believe it.


Now I am no writer and I would never pretend to be, and I realize that I started off talking about the origins of pin-up photography and pin-up art, but the reason for that was to show why I think it is so great that pin-up photography is becoming popular again.  Women like Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth were not overly skinny and there was no photoshop, they were beautiful natural women.  This new idea of pin-up photography gives the every day woman a chance to put aside all the images they see in magazines of models that are unnaturally skinny and overly photoshopped, and become a model themselves, just as they are, ok maybe a little make up.  It allows these women the opportunity to put themselves in a position where they feel comfortable being photographed and they feel beautiful and sexy while they are doing it.


I am not only a portrait photographer but a fashion photographer as well, and it is far too often that I see young girls so concerned with their weight because they want to look like the models they see in magazines or on TV, and part of me feels guilty for being a part of that.  However, I do not require the models I work with to be overly thin, I encourage the people I work with to be natural and proud of who they are, and I think that is what pin-up photography is doing for us today.


It seems like any major city you are in, if you get on the computer and search "pin-up photography" you are bound to find a local studio that specializes in modern pin-up style portraits of any woman that walks through their doors.  Now maybe this is just the "Glamour shots" of our time, but it works.  These women have fun and they feel great about themselves while they do it.  Not only have I conducted shoots like this myself, but I have also had close friends participate in these shoots with other photographers, and the way they light up after the shoot, and again when the see the images, is one of the most beautiful things about a woman.

-Joseph Sims-




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