Peter Gowland's Figure Photography

edited by George Tilton

copyright 1954 by
Fawcett Publications
67 West 44th Street
New York 36, New York

click to enlarge

from Introduction by George Tilton:

All men fancy themselves connoisseurs in the matter of feminine beauty. They may be right. But many men also imagine that given a camera and a beautiful girl than can make beautiful photographs. In this they are not so right. For it is a painstaking art that knows surprisingly few top rank practitioners. Peter Gowland is one of them. If you take Gowland, a camera and a beautiful girl, you can be assured of superbly beautiful photographs.

How does he do it? And what is more important, how can you do it? This handsome book was created to answer both these questions. In it Peter Gowland, long acknowledged as America's leading photographer of the feminine figure, not only shows you the best of his work but explains in clear, factual language how you may obtain similar results. Study these fine photographs carefully. You will then be more than an admirer of feminine beauty; you will know how to reproduce beauty on film. It is a lasting satisfaction.

from Basic Figure Types:

One of the common mistakes made by overenthustiastic photographers is miscasting their models, that is, not knowing which type of girl to select for a particular job. The title "photographer's model" does not necessarily mean a girl is suitable for every phase of photographic work. It might be explained more graphically by pointing out that we can all be classified into one of three basic physical types: the thin, or "intellectual," the heavy-set, or "eater," and the muscular, or "physical" type. Fortunately the majority of us are a happy mixture of the three, but usually one trait is more predominant than another so that in conversations we may find ourselves being referred to as, "skinny" "fatso" or "muscles." These are extremes, but if this same analysis is tested on models, it is possible to classify them into three definite figure types, each having personality traits directly related to their physical characteristics.

And knowing which category a model falls into can be of invaluable help in selecting the right girl for a particular job.

The thin type, for example, is the indoor girl. Intelligent, sensitive, despises exercise, sunshine and food. Prefers cigarettes, coffee, books and records. Her skin is usually very fair because she stays inside. She enters your office on a cloud, immediately radiating beauty that is hard to define, but which makes her an easy target for mis-casting. I've been fooled many times myself. Hers is not the pin-up type figure, although this may be your first impulse. She makes a better fashion model, or nude provided she is not TOO thin.

The "eater" on the other hand might possibly be called a "butterball" if she overindulges in food. She can be one of the sexiest models, usually has lovely smooth legs, rounded arms, and is generally on the chubby side. With this girl you have to have a well-stocked icebox. She loves to eat and tires easily of not fed often. She's great for pin-ups, sexy calendar shots in filmy negligees that require plenty of smooth skin showing. Comfortable poses are her specialty, but don't make her too comfortable or she will go to sleep.

The third type is the athletic girl. She's the one who bounds out of bed in the morning, and is ready to go. Can pose all day without becoming tired and never asks for food. She's a lot of fun, full of enthusiasm, willing to help carry equipment and quite often has some dancing experience. She makes a day's shooting seem like nothing.


The age of a pin-up model is not important as long as she LOOKS 18. She can be anywhere from 14 to 30. Some girls mature quickly and look 18 when they are 14. Others look 18 at 30! Although not too often, I'll admit. Another quality so often required is the American Girl look and that's pretty undefinable. But if a girl has it, you know it immediately. I suppose it could be described as a freshness; healthy, sweet with underlying sex appeal.