Behind the Scenes: Newfangled Pinup
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We’ve wanted to do a pinup shoot for a long time, but we also wanted to make it stand out from all of the other pinup photos out there by adding a concept to it. While looking through images of classic pinups, we realized that the technology from that era has all been rolled into one device, the smartphone. This sparked the idea for a concept showing the contrast between then and now with some beautiful pinups.
It was important that our lighting was interesting, yet almost foolproof since the models would be moving around and changing poses quickly. This led us to use primarily large light sources that would create even lighting with no harsh shadows.
When editing a series, it’s extremely important to make sure the editing matches from photo to photo and really ties them together. Combining textures with dodging and burning was a huge part of making these photos appear old, yet new. Not only have the colors and textures been processed in the same way, but the images have also been cropped with the same aspect ratio.
Welcome behind the scenes of our latest shoot, Newfangled Pinup. Hey, guys. Welcome to Phlearn. My name is Aaron Nace. You can find me on twitter at akanacer. Today we’re taking a look behind the scenes of our latest shoot, Newfangled Pinup.
So we wanted to do a pinup shoot, but we wanted to take a little bit of a different approach than most people. We wanted to make it more than just a pretty girl standing somewhere doing something cool, and what we found is it took quite a bit of research into the pinup. The original idea with the pinup was someone was going to be, like a girl was going to be mowing the lawn and maybe a breeze catches her skirt and you can kind of see a little bit of her underwear. She’s like woo, that happens, so kind of like a peek.
What we found is a lot of these pinups are used kind of like with older pieces of technology, things from the 40s, 50s and 60s and it was really interesting to see that all these pieces of older technology had now become either almost obsolete or it kind of brought together back into one piece of technology where at one time you needed a whole room full of giants computers and things like that, now you have it all in your smart phone. We decided to create an interesting play between the older technology and the new technology that replaces it not only in direct translation but the fact that one piece of technology now replaces multiple different pieces of technology from the past. We had our concept and now we had to go about deciding how we were going to pull it off.
We knew we were probably going to be including an iPhone in every one of these images, but we needed something to translate back to what these items used to be. Things like the internet used to basically just be a set of encyclopedias where you could look up information. The map feature on your phone used to be just a globe or an actual map. We have things like the typewriter where that’s how you used to send letters to your friends, and now you just have the same thing on your phone as well. So, all of these kind of older pieces of technology are now brought together in this new device.
Here’s a tip for you guys. If you’re looking for something crazy like a prop or you know an old giant radio, obviously we don’t have that stuff in the studio, but a great place to look is antique stores. Generally, they’re run by really nice people and if they’re offering something for sale, let’s say this antique radio, I think it was $1,000, oftentimes, they’ll let you rent things for 5, 10, 15% of that price and if you’re really cool you can even talk them down a little bit. In this case, we even got them to deliver everything to the studio the day of the shoot because they’re kind of used to hauling things around. They have vans and trucks and things like that so we were able to rent all these things from a regular antique store. They brought them all here for the day of the shoot. Once we were done they took them all away and it worked out very, very well.
The lighting for a pinup shot is key. You don’t want too deep shadows, but you do want to keep your lighting relatively interesting. You want to keep it as much away from flat as you can. So, we used four lights in this lighting setup to kind of sculpt our subject.
The first light and probably the most important light in this shoot is the hair light to place either directly above your subject or above and behind your subject and this is something that I feel a lot of photographers miss when they are building lighting. For me, the first couple of years that I was doing lighting in studios and things like that, I never added a hair light and it became a really important part of lighting setup especially when you’re trying to do something that’s going to call a lot of attention to facial features and hair and things like that because it’s going to cast a really nice highlight on the face Now, we used a large boom and light stand, but if you guys don’t have one, it’s not a big deal. If you have light stands and a backdrop stand, a horizontal bar that holds the backdrop, you can just use a super clamp and kind of put your light stands up behind your subject and then clamp a light up there behind them as well. It’s a really good way to get that hair light going and I think if you guys start playing around with it you will really see how important they become.
The next two lights are rim lights. We had an 86 inch parabolic camera right and that’s going to be behind our subject. That creates a nice highlight on the right side of our subject, and then the next light is a medium size soft box that’s to camera left also behind our subject and that’s creating a highlight. It’s a little bit smaller of a highlight so it gives a little bit more of a kick.
The fourth light we used is a fill light also very, very important. With a pinup a shot you really don’t want your shadows to be too harsh and deep so you want to put a nice big broad fill right up in front of your subject if you can. If you can’t put it in front of your subject, fire it into the ceiling and it will kind of bounce around everywhere. We used an 86 inch parabolic right in front of our subject to the camera right.
When you guys are coming up with a concept for a shoot, keep in mind there are usually several different things that are going to make up if that concept either works or does not work. With a pinup shoot it might be relatively obvious, but there are some things that really need to be in place, things like hair. The hairstyles that you’re using in a pinup shoot are not the same kind of hairstyles that people are going to come to the shoot with so you want to be sure you get a really good hairstylist. Makeup is the same thing. We have quote-unquote pinup style makeup so the hair and makeup are really important. The props are also really important because they’re the things that kind of sell the idea that these are a little bit older. And, the last thing is the wardrobe styling which again needs to kind of be from the era in which you’re supposed to be recreating. So, all these four things are really important and without any of those, if you did great props, great makeup, great wardrobe, but you didn’t have the hair, the hair just kind of looked like, well, my hair, it would all fall apart.
So, keep in mind those things are really important when you’re designing a shoot like this. Also, take advantage of any cool opportunities or props you might find along the way. We found a really cool Coke container that had nothing to do with our concept, but we really wanted to shoot it and it also became one of our favorite images out of the photo shoot. It doesn’t fit with our original series, however, it does stand alone on its own. So, we kind of got a series and a standalone image out of the same shoot.
Now bringing it all together in post-production is one of the most important parts of this series. It’s supposed to be a pinup series and that’s where all the really cool stylization comes into play. With any pinup shot you’re going to be talking about a lot of dodging and burning and that’s a real key in creating these amazing looks. Also, we did some really custom work creating and photographing our own textures that we then used on top of all of these images. So, not only do they have that kind of like new age feel with the dodging and burning, but they also have that old age feel with the low contrast and the textures applied to them.
Editing images in a series is a lot different from just editing a standalone image. Not only does the image have to stand on its own, but it’s also got to fit with the series. So, what I do is I usually edit my first image and then I’ll go through and edit my second image with my first image up kind of like looking at it and seeing how can I make it similar to the first and you do that over and over and over again. You’re going to wind up at the end with a couple outliers—images that really aren’t going to look like the other images in the series. So, after each image is edited individually, then the entire series has to go back and get reedited to make sure they all look like one another. Not only just the look and feel, but we also make sure to crop them by the same aspect ratio so they really do come together as a series.
Guys, thanks so much for watching our behind the scenes look at how we pulled off a unique concept to a pinup shoot. Look for a Phlearn Pro tutorial coming soon. Thanks again guys and I’ll Phlearn you later. Bye, everyone.