Glamour in your Lens

Costume


THIS SECTION DIDN'T come earlier simply because niceties of costume only begin to matter when considerable success has been achieved without bothering about it.

Unless you go in for glamour photography in such a big way that you begin to have costumes specially made, you never have complete control over the costume your models wear. But you always have some. You photograph them in some outfits they possess and don't photograph them in others. And when girls start modelling for you they will often want to buy or make costumes for these glamour pictures, and ask you for advice.

It doesn't matter whether a girl's tall or short. Photographs won't show the difference.


Casual costume can make a pleasant change.
Photo Andre de Dienes.

Making the Best of It


Country clothes may spell sophistication.
Photo Andre de Dienes.
Plump girls, on the whole, are best covered up, very slim girls best in the minimum of clothing. For low-key or exotic or fanciful studio work, the best model is one who isn't exactly fat but has ample curves. For beach shots in sunshine a girl can't be too slim.

A small girl with a 36-22-36 figure and every rib showing will be sensational in a bikini on the beach, but not nearly so sensational in the studio. A big girl with a 39-25-38 figure and no bones at all is liable to look like an all-in wrestler in a two-piece costume on the sand, but looks magnificent dressed mainly in jewelry for sultry low-key studio pictures.

These are, of course, generalizations and won't always apply.

It goes without saying that if a girl has splendid legs, and a less attractive torso, most pictures of her should feature her legs and be as reticent as possible about the rest of her.

And choice of costume, of course, reinforces this. It doesn't make sense to let such a girl wear slacks and a bra, concealing her excellent legs and revealing her not so excellent top half.

In all pictures featuring legs the costume should be cut high on the hip. Take a good look at the costumes of TV dancers. Almost invariably the bottom part of their costume is shaped to make their legs look as long and slim as possible.

The ordinary swimsuit with a skirt fitting isn't very good for glamour pictures. It tends to shorten thelegs. It looks all right when the girl sits or kneels but does nothing for her when she stands up straight. Even the cheapest elasticated bathing costumes look better in this kind of shot.

Shorts, too, must be really short. If they flop over the thigh they make the girl's legs look fatter and shorter than they really are.

So even if your model is well covered up otherwise, make sure when you're featuring her legs that her costume is cut as high has possible. She'll be in full agreement about this immediately you show her examples of the two styles.


Informal wear goes well with relaxed poses.
Photo Peter Basch.

Presented well, casuals can have slick appeal.
Photo Andre de Dienes.

One Thing at a Time

Pin-up photography is strip photography, of course, but that doesn't mean that the best pictures are those in which the model wears the scantiest clothes. On the contrary, it's generally best to reveal only one thing at a time. The best leg pictures aren't those in which the girl wears a bikini. They are those in which she wears a neat, one-piece which isn't by any means unattractive but does nothing to drag anybody's attention away from her beautiful legs. And if the model reveals a large slice of bust, it's most effective when she does so by wearing a dark, low-cut sweater which doesn't fight for attention and when the bottom half of her, if in the picture at all, is clad in something conservative like a skirt or jeans.

There are occasions in life for subtlety, for concealing one's best points, but few of these are to be found in pin-up photography. It's the best points which are frankly displayed, with everything else modestly tucked out of the way.

Even the girl whose figure is so perfect that all parts of her are good enough to exhibit separately shouldn't always be photographed in costumes which show in the frankest detail how perfect everything is. You have less trouble with a girl like this--she can wear anything. All that means is that you can let her wear anything, instead of persuading her to reveal her good features and conceal her bad ones.

Bikinis

Only if a girl is very slim and has a splendid waist should she wear a bikini, which a two-piece cut away from the waist to reveal it. On the other hand, the ordinary two-piece which fits the waist snugly is excellent for girls who haven't a very pronounced waistline--shorts or trunks fitting the waist actually create one when the one she has is deficient. Bikinis are not only revealing, they are boastful. A girl who wears brief trunks is showing proudly that there's absolutely no deception--she really is made like that, with no belt or girdle to help her. Unless she has a figure in a thousand, she's asking for trouble...

Any two-piece makes a plump girl look plumper. So for any but the needle-slim, two-pieces are out. It works the other way, too. A very slim girl often looks too slim in a one-piece which has been cunningly designed to make a fat girl look thin.

Straps or Strapless

Most one-piece costumes have detachable straps. This is very handy for the pin-up photographer, because wearing or not wearing a strap makes an enourmous difference, and you can easily see which is best by trial and error. If the model is thin and has a rather scrawny neck and shoulders, her main physical charm being elsewhere, putting the strap on can effect a big improvement. If, on the other hand, she has nice shoulders and there isn't a great, naked expanse to the top of her costume (which makes her look monstrous), the straps should come off.

Many girls who otherwise have no outstanding physical charms have lovely shoulders and backs. Often easily the best angle is to photograph from behind one shoulder.

Straps down the back or over the shoulder almost invariably spoil such pictures. A completely backless one-piece costume is best in such a case.

Colour in Black-and-White

An obvious point should be mentioned. The shade of any costume as rendered by black-and-white material should always be known and allowed for. It's fatuous to photograph a bright red costume against a dark green background, marvelling at the wonderful effect the contrast makes. On the prints the two colours will probably be exactly the same, merging into each other.

You don't always want contrast between costume and background, but generally you do. A dark costume in any colour (black as far as the film is concerned) needs sand or sky as a background. A light costume is all right anywhere, even against another light colour.

Therefore if you have any choice in the matter, choose light colours. Dark colours are sometimes good, usually bad. Light colours are nearly always good.

If your model is heavily tanned, white is almost the only choice for her. Yellows, pinks, pale greens perhaps--not dark colours.

Details to Watch

Every pin-up costume, whether tailored or thrown together on the spot, must have a tight waist. It can balloon out over hips or even bust, but the waist mustn't be allowed to disappear. If your model must wear a sack, tie a rope round her middle or use a narrow belt.

Jewellry is all right for the stuido, all wrong for the beach. Make sure your model leaves off necklaces, bracelets, wrist-watches, rings and (generally) ear-rings.

High-heeled shoes should be worn with the girl is standing. They make her point her toes, make her legs look longer, and altogether improve the general effect. On the beach, where she wouldn't wear high-heeled shoes, she can stand on tiptoe instead.

All this applies to the beach and to a lesser extent to indoor photography. Lingerie belongs indoors entirely. There are certain rare cases where outdoor shots could feature underwear or nightdresses, but the effect is usually artificial and not often in the best taste.

In a studio we're not always aiming for the bright effect usual on a beach, and may be quite happy with a little pool of light on a girl's face and breast with everything else in heavy shadow. Consequently there's nothing against having her wear dark costumes.

Indeed, though it's only a matter of personal preference, I've found that on the whole if a girl wears sports clothes on a beach, light colours are best; and if she wears lingerie in a studio, dark colours are best.

Only matter of taste, yes, but pretty general taste. If you're going to have a bright, cheerful, high-key picture of a girl in a studio, few people will find white lingerie an appropriate costume. Something more of the blouse and shorts type is generally better.

Lingerie

Once you begin to use underwear in studio shots, every picture will tend to start an argument on what is, or is not, good taste. Most people would agree, for example, that a picture which largely consists of stocking tops, suspenders and corsetry, with the girl looking coyly shocked to be discovered in such a state of undress, tends more toward to pornography that towards normal pin-up photography. Some people got further and say that any picture of a girl in her undies is salacious and undesirable.

It's notable that in American TV, though showgirls' costumes are certainly brief and bathing costumes are featured at the drop of a hat, lingerie is shown only with considerable caution. It's considered that though it's all right to show girls in bikinis, it isn't quite nice to show them in brassieres and panties meant to be worn under other clothes.

While the pin-up photographer probably sees no need to restrict himself or his model to such an extent, it's undeniable that costumes should be chosen because they're attractive, not because they pander to the Peeping Tom instinct. To the normal, unrepressed eye, a bra which has been designed to be seen looks much better than the stiff, wired, functional variety which is intended and designed to be worn under something else.

Nightdress studis should generally be low-key.It's inappropriate to show girls in nightdresses or pyjamans doing wide-awake, energetic poses under sharp, clear, bright lighting. If you must do this, try to suggest dawn, not dusk, and get some real sunlight into your picture from an open window.

Wraps are excellent and provide no great difficulties. Questions of taste are not involved unless the wrap is ultra-revealing--a girl will come to the front door in a wrap to take in the milk, and doesn't particularly care who sees her. Wraps are respectable.

There is no particular point in using slips or petticoats unless they are unusually pretty. They give much the same effect as evening dress, except that if slips were more attractive than evening dress they'd be worn instead of evening dress.

As for bras and panties--well, why use them in preference to bikinis?

Using Props

Props may give the answer and justify many a picture which, without them, would seem tasteless, pointless, or both. The use of mirrors in lingerie shots make a world of difference--now we are looking at a pretty girl taking innocent delight in her looks. If include in the picture of a girl in her undies the beautiful new dress which she is just about to put on, we have told a whole story in a single picture. Tape-measures, scissors and a dummy suggest immediately the dress-making salon.

A candle in a nightdress picture, though a wild anachronism, will often improve it considerably. And if you're not going to the length of actually photographing your model in bed, a pillow and a bedside clock may add the touch you want.

The right costume and the right prop to with it will make your picture and tell the story een if everything else shows the photograph was done in a studio. A girl in a wrap carrying a kittn, for example, doesn't need the caption: "Putting the cat out." Or a girl in a dance frock with her shoes off, listening to the radio--that certainly tells a story, though everybody who sees the picture will have a different idea about what exactly it is.

Calendars, clocks, telephones, diaries, books, pots and pans, electric radiators, playing cards, newspapers, magazines, typewriters, musical instruments, candles, mirrors and hairbrushes are only a few of the hundreds of things you can use in the studio to spark off a whole series of pictures. You have only to look at any common object anywhere and wonder how you'd use it in a glamour picture to think of half a dozen possible props and the pictures that go with them--not the hobnailed boot your eye has happened to light on, perhaps, but the umbrella beside it, a walking-stick, a broom, a nail-brush, a comb, a head-square, an apron.

Outdoor props are more obvious still and perhaps a little less important. If you're on what is obviously a sandy beach, you don't really need fish-nets and beach balls to prove it. But while you can take hundreds of pictures without any props except sand, sea and a girl in a bathing costume, don't spurn things like picnic baskets, portable radios, old anchors, capstans, sea walls, breakwaters, seaweed and seashells.

Every prop opens a new field. You can take a thousand pictures of a girl with a beach ball none of which would make sense without it.

If you want her to look down, give her something to look at and show it in the picture. If you want her to close her hand, let her hold something like sun-glasses. If you want her to stretch up her arms behind her, give her a towel to hold.

The final word on costume and props, on beach or in studio: photograph your model in the clothes in which she looks best, either in an appropriate setting or with an appropriate setting strongly suggested by props.

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