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Thread: Deliberations on Pin-Up

  1. #1
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Deliberations on Pin-Up

    I recently started a long-term photography project with my best mate's girlfriend. He's off training to be a Recon Marine, and will be stationed in California (we're in Michigan) for quite a while. One of the ways she's keeping in touch is by collaborating with me on a monthly clothed pinup calendar we're sending his way.

    I just finished the February calendar, but I find myself a bit torn here. Original pin-ups, though cute to modern eyes, are undeniably sexist relics of old-school, misogynistic ideas about female sexuality, portraying unrealistic body types frequently in vapid, gleefully subservient roles. In their original context, they bother me.

    However, the recent resurgence of pin-ups, with modern additions of tattoos, powerful-looking subjects, and frequently more badass surroundings, seems to indicate that women are grabbing the style by the horns and bending it to their will. In other words, the knee-weakening sex appeal stays, and the degrading historical context is left behind.

    My questions are these; can one do pin-up work without carrying the historical baggage? Is any remotely sexy photo of a woman degrading, or simply a nod to the awesome, brain-melting power of female beauty? If someone approached you about a project like this, how would you respond? What pitfalls would you be worried about?

    To make things even more interesting, I'm taking photos of the girlfriend of a guy who is currently training to kill with his bare hands. Heck of a performance incentive, but also an excellent additional reason (beyond the already-sufficient combination of respect for the model and simple good taste) not to push the envelope.

  2. #2

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Considering your sensitivity to the situation and your quest for feedback, especially if you get ample feedback from females, I'm confident that your photos can forge new ground that actually helps viewers appreciate that the photos pay compliments to the subject rather than degrade her.

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    can one do pin-up work without carrying the historical baggage?
    Do you have a new style in mind, or are you looking for ideas?

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    Is any remotely sexy photo of a woman degrading, or simply a nod to the awesome, brain-melting power of female beauty?
    I suppose there will be some women who think that, but if a woman is being true to herself then she won't see her sexuality as anything other than her natural state.

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    If someone approached you about a project like this, how would you respond? What pitfalls would you be worried about?
    Personally, I wouldn't do it. Not that way, anyway. I might take some photos before he left, then no more until after he returns.

  4. #4
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    You are really creating a tangled web, considering your concern with sexist content and women taking charge of their own sexuality, considering your male friends feelings seem out of place, it's his girlfriend's choice to display her body how she wishes. On the other hand, how your marine friend will be able to handle sexual content, especially since he is far away; will play a big part in how this scenario plays out.

    Regarding the photos, don't go over board, nudity isn't necessary, and if you and the female are doing this for the marine's benefit, consider where he is (will he want to see her doing military cosplay, can these images be protected from other eyes once delivered to him) and what's on his mind about what's going on at home.

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    I know that your intentions are honorable but, I would have been other than absolutely thrilled during my military time if some other guy was shooting "pinup" type images of my girlfriend while I was deployed...

    The more revealing the images, the less happy I would have been.

  6. #6
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    I have to agree with Richard. If you're going to take photo's of her, don't do pinups. Keep it simple. Close ups of her face would work; other shots, would be of her doing something she likes doing.

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    I'm assuming the style and content of the photos have already been agreed to by both the subject and her boyfriend. The January calendar and perhaps the February calendar has already been sent to him. That being the case, the concerns about the involved people's feelings are best left to those that are indeed involved, as not everyone will feel the same in this situation.

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    I think that many of the Vargas Girl photos are a great example of pin up girls that present the beauty of females in a tasteful, modest manner. A bit dated but appreciated by many females.

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    This rather reminds me of a similar situation which resulted in the photograph of a tennis player. And that photo went on to become famous; selling all around the world!

  10. #10
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    I'm assuming the style and content of the photos have already been agreed to by both the subject and her boyfriend. The January calendar and perhaps the February calendar has already been sent to him. That being the case, the concerns about the involved people's feelings are best left to those that are indeed involved, as not everyone will feel the same in this situation.
    Mike, since Lex didn't say that in his post, I was going with what was presented. But I would agree with you and wouldn't make my comment if Lex had said they were all in agreement. Also, there was no mention of him (Lex) sending any calendar. So, since he hadn't said they were all in agreement and there was no mention of him sending any calendar, then I felt it would be a safe not to do a pinup.

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    One of the ways she's keeping in touch is by collaborating with me on a monthly clothed pinup calendar we're sending his way.
    From the original post at the top...

  12. #12
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    I sit corrected.

  13. #13
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley
    Considering your sensitivity to the situation and your quest for feedback, especially if you get ample feedback from females, I'm confident that your photos can forge new ground that actually helps viewers appreciate that the photos pay compliments to the subject rather than degrade her.
    Quote Originally Posted by rcprowe
    I know that your intentions are honorable but, I would have been other than absolutely thrilled during my military time if some other guy was shooting "pinup" type images of my girlfriend while I was deployed...

    The more revealing the images, the less happy I would have been.
    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S
    I think that many of the Vargas Girl photos are a great example of pin up girls that present the beauty of females in a tasteful, modest manner. A bit dated but appreciated by many females.
    Interesting responses so far. I can't disagree with those who say I'm on shaky ground, but fortunately the Marine is a close enough friend that I believe he trusts me not to take any liberties. No way in hell I'm going to push for nudes - in addition to the practical side (not pissing off my best mate), that enters a whole new realm of moral and aesthetic complexity I'm simply not interested in. Not to mention the fact that there's simply no way to hide these calendars when you're living in barracks (a point I used to talk the model down from more risque photos).

    Christina, thanks for weighing in. Most women of my generation and acquaintance are big pin-up fans. But that could be because a lot of them are derby girls. Regardless, it does sound like pin-up is viewed with a more modern mindset these days, so the baggage I was worried about is essentially gone.

    There are several factors convincing me to go ahead. One, that my mate's girlfriend approached me about the project. It was not my idea. Second, that I have enough respect for their relationship to back out if I feel like I'm endangering it. I won't really know that until I hear his response to the February calendar. If it's negative, I'm out, but I strongly suspect it won't be.

    Third, this has been a fun project so far. I've agreed to keep the photos off the Internet and out of my portfolio, so unfortunately I can't submit them for more specific comments. I strongly suspect that I'll be able to go forward (with all the caution of strolling through a minefield), but if I suddenly stop posting, at least you guys will know why.

  14. #14
    Mito's Avatar
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    There's a saying "two's company, three's a crowd". The occasional photo yes but on a regular basis, no. Nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow, relationships start in strange ways.

  15. #15
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Mito
    ...relationships start in strange ways.
    Fair point, but I can assure you there is no risk of that here. Among other reasons, I know from painful experience that dating a model (especially one who owns a 9-foot boa constrictor) is a terrible idea.

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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Interesting answers so far indeed. I took Lex's original comment on his friend learning to kill with his bare hands as ironical.

    Frankly, I don't see the problem in doing this, unless it makes the photographer uncomfortable.
    If the girlfriend came up with the idea, she won't be troubled by it and it is for her boyfriend, so if the two of them can handle that, why would it be degrading?
    If you can pull this project off in a good way (and it will be difficult to shoot good pinups I suppose), it is great fun for everyone involved.
    If the friendship and relationship are solid enough, this shouldn't bother your friend or the two of you involved in the shooting.

    Having said all that, I would be slightly uncomfortable at first, but after a few sessions that would disappear in all likelihood.

  17. #17
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Letrow View Post
    Interesting answers so far indeed. I took Lex's original comment on his friend learning to kill with his bare hands as ironical.
    Fortunately, yes. I'm not actually worried about that, but it's rather difficult to ignore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Letrow
    Having said all that, I would be slightly uncomfortable at first, but after a few sessions that would disappear in all likelihood.
    The drive to our first location was definitely punctuated by rather lengthy silences. Knowing you need to get over your own shyness, and any potential awkwardness, in order to get the shot makes one heck of a motivator.

  18. #18
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Deliberations on Pin-Up

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    Fortunately, yes. I'm not actually worried about that, but it's rather difficult to ignore.


    The drive to our first location was definitely punctuated by rather lengthy silences. Knowing you need to get over your own shyness, and any potential awkwardness, in order to get the shot makes one heck of a motivator.
    Well you do have a common interest, getting the shots, use the time to discuss what you both want to accomplish and how you plan to do it.

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