Not long ago, I was extremely fortunate to work alongside John from Portraits and Pin Ups and have my second photo shoot. John has his own studio in his home in London and works as a hobbyist photographer (though you would never guess it wasn’t his full time career, given how professional and talented he is). I want to point out straight away that just because I have been able to have a couple of photo shoots with John, I do not class myself as a model, or even an aspiring model; it is something I have done for pure enjoyment. It has also served a more serious purpose too – with my history of anxiety, eating disorder and BDD, and overall extremely low self esteem and confidence, being in front of the camera and having someone transform me into the glamorous bombshell I have always longed to be has seriously improved the way I view myself. I would highly recommend partaking in a similar style shoot to anyone who has issues with their own confidence and self image.
John is so wonderful – I cannot stress that enough. With a wealth of experience and an amazing eye for detail, he has mastered the balance of professionalism and friendliness down to the bone. I remember arriving for my first photo shoot and having the most incredible feelings of butterflies as the nerves grew and grew inside me. I remember being ridiculously shy and self conscious when I stepped in front of the camera. I also remember how quickly those feeling disappeared. John’s primary focus is always to make sure the shoot is a fun experience – getting great photographs is just a bonus! I’ll also mention that he has a very impressive collection of pin up attire, ranging from clothing and shoes to props and backdrops that relate to tiki, nautical and boudoir, to name a few.
On this occasion, we chose to do five different pin up style sets: classic pin up, nautical, beach, rainy day and boudoir.
The first set was classical pin up. To me, classical pin up embodies style, class and sophistication while also being sexy, flirty and playful. For this set I wore the Collectif Clothing Chloe Candy swing dress (£45.50, Collectif Clothing – although I purchased mine from a wonderful independent vintage-repro boutique which stocks Collectif, called Isobel’s Retro and Vintage) paired with a Banned Apparel petticoat (£29.99, Attitude Clothing). The bright turquoise and pink contrast is girly and delicate whilst also being flattering (especially on my milk bottle complexion) and classical of the era. I matched this outfit with What Katie Did seamed stockings (£10.00, What Katie Did) and suspender belt (£35.00, What Katie Did), and black Pleaser shoes (from John’s collection). My hair and make up was very classic of the era too, with victory rolls and betty bangs adorning my tresses and pillar box red lips being the focusing point of my face. Classic pin up is such a fun style to shoot in; it’s about being cheeky and suggestive but not improper. Stocking and suspender belt flashes are often seen and making use of the petticoat also results in great photos.
The second set was nautical. A lot of John’s previous nautical sets involved latex or playsuits – I wanted to keep it almost in line with the classical pin up style and chose to wear another swing dress with seamed stockings again. I wore the Hell Bunny Seafarer dress (I purchased mine a couple of years ago from an independent boutique down in Cornwall (since ceased trading), and the only current stockist I can find is EBay) with a lobster brooch (£10.50, Luxulite) attached to the collar. A lot of this set revolved around the use of props, such as an original sailor hat, ships wheel, spy glass and ship rope, all of which came from John’s collection.
The third set was an idea I’d had myself which involved creating a beach scene. Having recently purchased a giant, fluorescent pink inflatable flamingo (£10.00, Primark), preemptively for our delayed honeymoon to Florida in October, I thought it would be a fun idea to incorporate this into a photo shoot. I wore a vintage style, teal swimming costume that I bought years ago (literally years ago – it was when I was first starting to get into the pin up scene, so we’re probably talking about six years ago) from Littlewoods and paired this with a cute hair orchid that was actually part of my old uniform with Benefit when we launched the latest Hoola products and some pink, Collectif cats eye sunglasses (£11.50, Collectif). Despite having put a lot of thought and planning into this idea, I had overlooked one major detail: the lack of a pump to blow up said flamingo. I honestly can’t thank John enough for coming to the rescue and blowing it up himself for me! I’ll remember that for next time! This set also means a lot to me due to my absolute love of the beach and sea. Look at my ongoing tattoo sleeve – it’s all nautical themed. The coast holds such a dear place in my heart. I think it’s partly from spending so much time on family holidays in Cornwall since being a tiny baby. It’s where I truly feel at home; the ethereal sound of the waves crashing calms my soul and the unpredictable temperament of the sea intrigues me beyond belief. I am in absolute awe of the power and beauty of the sea.
The fourth set was based around a ‘rainy day’ idea. This thought first floated into my head when I purchased the Weather Girls dress from Lindy Bop (£30.00, Lindy Bop). We created the illusion of being outside by using a sky blue back drop and faux grass floor covering. The main prop we used was a cute heart shaped umbrella (£10.00, Lindy Bop).
The final set was boudoir. In one way, it was the set that I looked forward to the most. In another way, it was the set that terrified me and filled me with dread. I dream about being some beautiful, classy bombshell straight out of a 1950s movie, but I’m so highly critical of myself that I always seem disappointed with the results. I’m not perfect, as is no human, but I tend to overlook every aspect of beauty and focus on all my imperfections instead: the roll on my untoned belly, the cellulite on the top of my thighs, the slight double chin I get when I smile and my strange gum to teeth ratio. John picked up on my nervousness, but he was amazing. Once the camera started clicking I forgot all my worries. The fact that he had to basically had to climb inside a wardrobe to get some shots provided a comical element that drove my worries away. We were also joined by his cat, Chilli, who refused to vacate the bed for a good ten minutes. Overall, I actually love these images. I was still highly critical of them when I got the unedited versions through, but I picked a handful that I actually love! For this, I wore an ensemble provided totally by What Katie Did. Maitresse Curve bullet bra (£35.00), Vamp Corset (£169.50), seamed stockings (£10.00), suspender belt (£35.00).
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