Shooting A 1950’s Pin-Up Project

Pin-Up photography was more popular a few years ago but still is a lot of fun to photograph.  Since pin-up can go in many directions, it is best to focus your work in one area then develop the sets accordingly.  I’m focusing on the 1950’s era pin-up.

I recently did a photoshoot where 4 sets were planned but I was only able to shoot 3 sets.  Err on the side of quality in your shoots and don’t rush just to get ‘er done.  Be honest with yourself about timing and potential problems before the shoot happens so that during the shoot you won’t be pressed for time.  Unfortunately, if you’re pressed for time, it will show in the images and potentially add stress to  the model(s).  I tend to plan well and well in advance as a result.

When choosing the sets, choose carefully to complete your vision.  Pay attention to your budget and focus on getting the right props for the right price.  See my post earlier on getting the right props for your photoshoot.  For my pin-up shoot I used an air mattress and beach ball for one scene and in another scene used picnic supplies to carry the mood.  I’ve found that food props are surprisingly expensive as are vintage phones and other period accessories.  I try to use the most authentic props I can find and that requires a budget and some research.  For backgrounds, I chose a Savage Universal seamless paper white background for its utility.  Later, I used a medium grey background for contrast during an ice cream soda fountain scene.  Since the 1950’s was influenced by the Far East, I also used a Shoji screen for effect.

Lighting.  For lighting in this pin-up shoot, I used 2 Paul C. Buff Einstein strobes with extra-large umbrellas for soft even lighting with few shadows.  In contrast, I could’ve shot the same images using ARRI fresnels for tungsten lighting but wanted a different look for this shoot.

Post Processing.  In post, I’ve learned to start with rating images first and making any global image exposure changes first.  Then work on the finer details later after I’ve chosen which images to process further.  Be sure to look for things such as lipstick on the teeth, jewelry placement, odd expressions, hair out of place and wardrobe malfunctions.  The list of things to watch out for seems to be endless.

After navigating a number of era shoots, this is my experience from planning, to shooting and to the post-processing.