A guide to help you prepare for a pinup shoot with advice, experiences and thoughts from myself and other professionals in the field.
Have you been thinking of booking in for a pinup shoot? Wanting to try something new, possibly a little out of your comfort zone or already into pinup and wanting to start your portfolio. Stepping in front of a camera can be scary, especially if it’s your first time.
I have been a pinup for close to 6 years now and I’ve spent a heck of a lot of time in front of the camera and also behind it. You guessed it, I’m a photographer too (yes, I know, multi-talented little old me), so I have experience on both sides of the lense. Boy, have I grown over the years and always learning more and more. So, I want to share my knowledge and experiences with you so that you can be as prepared as possible for your pinup shoot.
Firstly, yes you will be nervous. This is a completely ‘normal’ feeling. Being prepared will certainly help ease your mind. Having everything ready prior to arriving at your shoot at least a night or 2 before the shoot date is best. You do not want to be rushing around on the day and stressing about more than you need to be stressing about.
Things to have ready before the shoot date :
- Nails – make sure your nails are clean and tidy. You do not have to go and get false nails put on but you should have them filed nicely and have a coat of polish on. I highly recommend red, even on short nails. Remember you are wanting that pinup look. Also, if you are wearing open toed shoes please do your toe nails too and also scrub those heel. Cracked dry feet never look good in pretty heels.
- Outfit/s – choose and try on your outfits. Make sure they fit and check there are no holes or stains anywhere. Iron/steam out wrinkles best you can.
- Accessories – choose your jewellery, heels, scarfs, hats etc. Try on with your outfits to make sure it all goes well together. You may not need to walk around in the heels but can you stand in them and pose. Even I own a pair of heels or 2 (or more) that are ‘photo shoot heels’. Which means they are fine to stand in but not great for walking in. However you still need to be able to balance yourself in them.
- Body Hair – I’m not saying you have to shave or wax your body hair, that is 100% your choice, but please keep in mind any body hair left on exposed areas will be seen in the photos. Do not, I repeat DO NOT ask your photographer to photoshop your body hair out. If you make the choice not to remove it then that’s your ‘too bad’ moment right there. So please consider this when prepping for your shoot. Will your legs be on display? Will you be in lingerie and need that bikini line tidied up? What about your underarms? Of course shaving can be left to the day but waxing I recommended at least a day or 2 before. You don’t want to look like you have chicken pox in your photos.
- Hair – obviously any hair styling will be left to the day of but please colour your regrowth and if you are setting your hair in rollers you may want to do this the night before and sleep in them.
- Skin prep – giving yourself a simple facial a few days prior will help your makeup go on and sit nicely on your skin. Keep in mind…. Sometimes, depending on what products you use, your skin can break out after a facial. However, facials will only pull out the underlying crap in your skin they will not create blemishes that weren’t already waiting to appear. A good exfoliant and hydration mask are best for prepping before a shoot.
- Check the location of the shoot – How long will it take to get there. Check if there is parking available or close by. Or if you are catching public transport, check the route. You do not want to be late to your shoot. This could mean your session being cut short. Also, this creates more stress for you and you will end up arriving in a fluster and you won’t be able to relax.
Honestly doing all this before the day of the shoot will set your mind at ease.
“While getting ready the night before, I prep my hair and make sure I have a vision with the look I’m wanting to create ..nothing like not being organised. I find if I don’t plan, I rush and go into a major panic, not great for your mentality going into a shoot. Be prepared!!”
“Mentally prepping I will practice posing looks in the mirror and see what angles work best for the shoot in question. Working on the best points of your body ..that being points you love about yourself. Your smile, your eyes, your waist the list goes on. The best advice I can give is breathe relax and let your natural beauty shine.” – Miss Joycurve
Now, to the day of the shoot :
- Hair & Makeup – I always recommend arriving at your shoot ready. Unless you are attending a workshop style shoot where you have allocated time to do hair and makeup with the group. If you are feeling confident in doing your own hair and makeup great. If you are unsure but on a budget there are many great tutorials online that are great so you can have a go at it yourself (practise before hand though). If you are not feeling confident what so ever then I recommend booking in with a professional that specialises in pinup and vintage styling.
- Drink Water – drinking water will help keep you hydrated and also help with muscle cramps. Yes, posing is hard work.
- Eat – eat something light before you head off to your shoot. You may be there for a few hours and you dont want to be getting light headed, especially standing in heels. Also if you take snacks, make sure they are quick and easy to eat. You don’t want to get bits of food stuck in your teeth.
- Moisturize – moisturize your whole body so your skin looks and feels fresh.
- Pack your bag – pack everything in a bag or suitcase. Include makeup for touch ups, hair brush, hair spray and bobbie pins.
- Dressed ready to go – usually if it is an indoor/studio shoot you will be able to get changed into your outfit once you arrive but if it’s an outdoor/location shoot keep in mind there might not be anywhere for you to change. Either go already dressed in your shoot outfit or be prepared to change behind a car or even a tree.
I know this all seems like a lot to do but it’s honestly best to be prepared so that your shoot runs smoothly and you get the absolute best shots possible.
“I always chat online with all my clients. Asking questions lets me know more about them prior to the shoot (Hobbies, interests, talking points). I always ask clients to rock up a little earlier if they are a newbie. Punctuallity is a major thing for me, being a natural light photographer we only have a few hours to get those shots completed so running on time is essential. Also running on time allows me to get that conversation going before jumping straight into the photo shoot, keeping my client more relaxed.” – Angie from Angie Delarie Pinup Photography
Now let’s talk posing. Having some idea of some basic posing will help you a lot. Most photographers are good with helping you pose and giving direction but some aren’t, so having a little bit of an idea will help the shoot run smoother. There are some great tutorials online to help with this. Standing in front of a mirror and trying different poses will help you to see how your body looks in a particular pose and what suits your body shape. We are all different shapes and sizes and also have different insecurities about our bodies so knowing how you look standing or sitting in a particular way can help you avoid showing those insecurities. For example, I have tuck shop lady arms (I totally do), so I try not to pose in way that allows my upper arm to hang or I tense it so it doesn’t appear as loose. A simple turn of the hips or shoulders can change your pose from meh to great. Stick to poses you can comfortably achieve. Us models make it look easy but it’s not. I end up pretty sore the day after a shoot just from the poses alone. I help with posing and direction for a lot of Fate Photography’s group shoots. I find having someone there to help with the posing helps greatly. Just fixing up hair, straps, jewellery and being able to say lift your chin or even pose so the model can copy me helps out immensely.
“The best advice I can give to someone who’s new to shooting or taking part in their first pinup photoshoot is to let go and have fun! To get the most out of your shoot, practice your poses in a mirror and see what suits your body, break down different body alignments like arm lines and leg lines, and work on expressive facial expressions. I imagine posing is like a slow motion dance changing my movement to create lines as the photographer shoots. The biggest issue most people have in a shoot is being nervous, tension shows in your body and face, which affects your poses, by letting go and just having fun you’ll have the most fabulous photo captured. Whether you picture yourself as the glamorous pinup queen that you are or if you channel Bettie Page or Dita Von Teese to help you feel in character, it will give you fabulous results! The first photoshoot I took part in was to help a friend with a project, and I fell in love with the whole process, stepping out of your comfort zone just might find you your new passion!” – Miss Lady Lace
“I’ve had many photoshoots over the years I have been a burlesque performer so the number one tip is CONFIDENCE! Its always scary to be vulnerable in front of a camera you have no control over. Find yourself a Photographer who can chat with you and keep you laughing! My favourite in Perth is Chayla Taylor or Wild Kat Photography. The next thing is to find some poses that work best for you. Your photographer can help you pose, but it is everyones personal preference to flaunt their best features. I’m a corset wearing gal most of the time so poses that work for me are standing or on my knees with arms up to flatter a little waist and my giant balloon boobies. When you finish your first photoshoot and do another, try to experiment a bit with your poses so you can boost up your range… and of course have FUN!” – Sugar Du Joure
Choosing a photographer. There are many incredible photographers out there and there are also some pretty crappy ones too. There are a few things to consider when choosing the photographer that is right for you.
- What look are you wanting to achieve? Shoot style? Setting? Eg: Studio/white back drop, outdoor/garden, boudior, portrait etc. Think about what sort of shoot you are wanting and what outfits you are you wanting to wear will help decide this. Does the photographer offer the set you are thinking of. There’s no point wanting a luxury boudior shoot if the photographer you choose only has a white backdrop and no props.
- What is your budget? Think about how much you are willing to spend. Check prices with photographers before booking them. You don’t want to fall in love with your photos only to find out that your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase any images. Some photographers include a certain amount of images with your shoot. Others have a shoot cost plus image cost on top. Some offer digital copies, others only offer printed copies. These are things you need to know up front to avoid disappointment later.
- What style of photography are you wanting? Eg: vintage aesthetic (where the photo looks aged), pinup/magazine vibes, raw/natural (not a lot of editing) etc. My style as a photographer is pretty raw with minimal editing using mostly natural light. I also mostly photograph babies and families so that suits exactly what I do. I always advise any potential clients to look through my work before booking me. If you don’t like my style then please don’t book me as I don’t want to disappoint you. Look through any potential photographers galleries so you know what you are getting. All photographers offer different looks and have different skill sets.
- Ask around for recommendations – ask your friends or fellow pinups who they recommend, who they have shot with, what was the photographer like, how long does it take to receive your completed/edited images. Everyone will have different opinions and experiences but this could help you decide.
- Do you want a one on one experience or would you prefer to do a group shoot so you aren’t alone? Group shoots can be great as you have other pinups/models there to help guide you through your shoot. It’s also a great way to meet like minded people and possibly make new friends.
Personally I would recommend either a studio portrait shoot or a group themed shoot for your first pinup shoot. This is completely up to you but I really wouldn’t recommend anything along the lines of lingerie shoots straight off unless you go to a photographer that specialises in this and you know they will make you feel comfortable. Getting photos taken in lingerie or semi nude, even nude nude, is a huge deal. You need to feel safe and know your photographer has only the best intentions for you. Again do your research!
What is the best part about running Pin Up Workshops at Lady Velvet Cabaret?
“For me there are so many favourite parts about running the workshops. First is always meeting new people. We get a wide range of experienced Pin-Up fashionistas, to beginners who want to give it a try for the first time. Everyone gets along so well together and it’s amazing to see the experienced gals help out others with their own Pin Up tips. I always leave a workshop with new tips and tricks and new friends” – Sugar Du Joure
“One golden rule that is clear before you even start…. the photo shoot is not about you, it’s about the person you are shooting. Keep your clients happy, relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera and around yourself and always have FUN!
Communication is the key for any sucessful photo shoot. Build a positive connection!
I love one on one client photoshoots it allows more time to get to know my client but I’ve also found in the past 3 years that running small group shoots are an absolute hit, especially if their newbies. Everyone helps out, more hands on deck and the atmosphere is amazing” – Angie from Angie Delarie Pinup Photography
I’m just going to say this one…… don’t choose cheap just because it’s cheap. Yes, have a budget but do not go with your cheapest option simply because it’s the cheapest. Not saying cheap shoots always equal low quality but usually when its really cheap it’s honestly not going to be amazing. Alright, there is the odd exception. But seriously, don’t let that be your deciding factor. Just like going with the most expensive doesn’t always guarantee the best either. Again, look at the galleries. Check the photographers work. You’ll find group shoots can usually come with a slightly lower price than a solo shoot, as the photographer is shooting more people in one session, therefore the cost of the shoot time is being split between the group.
“I’ve had a rough time in the past year because of cheaper companies taking a lot of my business. I cannot compete with $20 photoshoots. I’ve actually had to lower my prices because of this. So, normally the shoot itself runs for half an hour / 45mins, then there’s editing time on top of that, which can end up being 3+ hours on one shoot that I’m charging $100 for, and that includes images. That roughly works out to be $33 per hour, I’m earning. It’s not much for something that has taken me 8+ years of training, experience and expensive equipment. I still have bills to pay.” – Elise from Fate Photography
Also look at what shoot packages may be on offer and what is included in these packages. For example a shoot may cost $250 and include 10 images or it may be $150 and include 3 images. $250 seems more expensive but in fact you are paying $25 per image as opposed to the cheaper shoot working out to be $50 per image. I know what you are thinking, this is all becoming confusing but really these are things you need to be aware of.
While we are talking prices and costs…. DO NOT ask for free shoots! Exposure does not pay the bills. Many photographers will offer TFP (time for print), that’s right, they offer it. Don’t ask for it. Telling them you will share it on social media to your less than 1000 Instagram followers is not cool. If you do wish to approach a photographer for a possible collaboration, then be prepared…. what are you offering in exchange for their time and skills? Perhaps come to some sort of arrangement for a discounted rate or maybe allow them to use the images for their own advertising. If you do come to some sort of arrangement please make sure you tag them on your socials and share their pages and recommend them. Remember they are helping you so help them in return.
Coming from the photographer side of things, please do not think our job is easy and that we get paid a lot for doing bugger all work. Your shoot may only take an hour but there is also set up time, pack up time and not to mention the editing time that goes into every single shoot. Personally I don’t do a lot of editing to my images (remember this is my style and way of doing things) but it still can take me hours to edit one shoot.
This brings me to the whole Photoshop thing. Not every photographer uses Photoshop (yes, a lot do, but not all, that’s myself included). Stop saying “you can just Photoshop that out, right”…… grrrrr. If you actually knew just how bloody long it takes to Photoshop something out you wouldn’t even ask. Simple things like blemishes can be easily fixed up but asking for something to be removed from an image or even to have a smaller waist or bigger boobs is not an easy job, especially if you want it done well. And when I say ‘well’, I mean not an obvious adjustment or modification. Or if you do want these things done then expect to pay for it. I’ve seen experts work for hours in Photoshop changing and modifying things so that you can’t tell it ever happened. Don’t ever think this is something easy to do because it is not. I don’t use Photoshop and I tell my clients up front. So, no I can’t Photoshop a smile on your kids face. Ain’t gonna happen.
“I am all for Photoshopping and I use it for all my photos, however I never Photoshop someone’s shape to be smaller or bigger. Although, I have been asked a few times to make someone a different size. Plus I don’t just click a button and that’s how the photo turns out, it has taken me the last 8 years to really find my style and process of editing. It roughly takes me half an hour to an hour per image (hence why I personally charge from $25 per extra image on top of the images included in the package).” – Elise from Fate Photography
Oh wow, I’ve really smashed you…. information overload. There really is a lot to consider when doing a pinup shoot or any shoot for that matter. Definitely take the step and do it. Try different styles and different photographers. I’ve shot with so many different photographers now. I’ve had good and bad experiences. Mostly good though and of course I have my favs but I do try to shoot with different photographers as much as possible and also join in on pinup workshops when I can.
“Remember that photographers are professionals and you have nothing to be embarrassed about, part of their job is to make you feel comfortable. Discuss your ideas with your photographer in advance if you have any concerns. You’re going to look amazing.” – Miss Katie Lenoir
Have fun with it, try not to over think it too much. Be prepared and that will take a lot of the stress out. I can’t take your nerves away but I can assure you, once you are there you will warm up and enjoy the experience. Now go get your pose on. Happy shooting.
Love Delza xoxo
*Please note that this is all written based on my knowledge and experiences. With quotes gathered from other professionals in the Perth Pinup Community.
I do not get paid for any recommendations or business tags