Monday, April 26, 2010

What is "Pin-Up", Really?

Pin-up is an art form celebrating idealized female beauty, with an emphasis on innocence and flirtation. The most successful "pin-up girls" have frequently become household names, including (in very-approximate chronological order) Mary Pickford, Mae West, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, Brigitte Bardot, Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy, Raquel Welch and Farrah Fawcett.

When photographers talk about "shooting pin-up", there are several different things they could mean.

Today when photographers talk about "pin-up" they often mean shooting in a style which refers back to the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s -- the golden age of pin-up art. Many are inspired by Bettie Page (the archetypal "bad girl" pin-up model) or by Marilyn Monroe (the archetypial "good girl" of pin-up). Others are inspired by (or even obsessed with) the great "cheesecake" calendar pin-up painters, particularly Alberto Vargas, George Petty, and my personal favorite, Gil Elvgren.

Elvgren's work is particularly influential to many "retro" pin-up photographers and models alike. His paintings, with very few exceptions, were very situational, featuring a playfully flirtatious accident such as the subject's skirt being blown upwards to expose a bit more thigh than would normally be seen, or a girl with a playful "oh no!" expression as she spills ketchup on herself at a picnic. While these types of pin-up are flirtatious, they do not cross the line into nudity. Nudity is almost unheard of in this type of pin-up. (Incidentally, pin-up art in this style almost always includes the entire model in the shot, from head to toe; close-ups don't even really qualify as true pin-up in this genre.)

But sometimes when photographers say "pin-up", they mean other things. Some photographers use the term "pin-up" to refer to a certain pop-culture poster-girl look typified by Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs in the 1970s. In this definition of "pin-up", the face comes first: it's all in the sunny smile and the twinkling eyes. This type of pin-up is not limited to full length shots; it can include waist-up photos or even portraits. But certain elements of pop-culture appeal are essential to it -- and like the more retro type of pin-up, it generally remains wholesome and does not include nudity.

Others might be referring to a more alternative look, such as rockabilly style, rock and roll, or "biker girl" style -- all of which often feature tattooing, dark cherry-red lipstick, and a feel that is a bit darker than traditional pin-up. (They also often feature motorcycles or vintage hot rods in the photos.)

Still other photographers when they talk about "pin-up" can mean something more sexual. Sometimes they may be referring to the so-called "Playboy style" (which is more correctly called "centerfold", not "pin-up"). Sometimes they mean something even more explicit than Playboy -- which also is not truly pin-up, but more probably erotica or fetish. The term "pin-up" is often used carelessly to describe nude or erotic photography; this is a misuse of the term. True pinup is sexy, but not sexual. Most of it is flirtatious and somewhat conservative. It can occasionally involve implied nudity, but it very rarely ever depicts nudity openly -- and it is never, ever lewd!

When a photographer approaches you about shooting pin-up, it is very important that you clarify what type of "pin-up" they expect to shoot with you before you agree to a shoot. You wouldn't want to expect to be doing a sweet, flirtatious Marilyn-style shoot but arrive at the shoot finding him expecting you to bare everything! Clear communication beforehand is essential, and be sure that you and the photographer are talking about the same type of pin-up.

By the way, if you skipped all of the links above, you might want to go back and click through them all. It's a treasure trove of images exemplifying what "pin-up" is.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Promotional Modeling Experience

So today was the in-store promotional modeling event for the FACE charity fashion show (Fashion, Auction, Compassion, Event). *hurray and much applauding!* I arrived five minutes early and headed up to the second floor as I had been told and then promptly had to wait to get my designer Barney's New York wardrobe on. Unfortunately I forgot to get pictures of the outfits I got to wear today, but I did get a picture of the awesome shoes (and many compliments on my cute summer hat and dress)! The shoes were very fun to walk in and walking up and down stairs in them became progressively easier. I think they were maybe five or six inch heels.

Before I was dressed up, I was given the rundown: the FACE event is on April 29th, 2010 at 6:30pm and there will be a fashion show for Barney's NY clothing. It is in SODO park, Seattle. There will be wine tasting and an auction and of course the fashion show and its for charity. A great event to attend and support. Tickets are available for purchase online at Be there or be square!

I was to tell the store customers the details of the fashion show and give anybody who is everybody a flyer/invite. It was interesting to note that most of the people coming into Barney's NY store were from out-of-town. One couple was from Australia and their next destination was New York. Another lady was from Canada.

All in all, it was quite an eventful day. I am stoked for the fashion show and can't wait to go out, walk the runway and meet some very important people in the Seattle fashion industry. One great thing to remember about being a fashion model (or being ANYTHING involving work/some kind of career) is that it is ALL about connections and networking. The more people you know, the better off you are.

The promotional modeling event today also reminded me how much I love to model. I have never "promo-ed" for anything before, but it was quite simple. I was "out of my comfort zone" in some ways, but I felt completely in my element. I was also portraying a different person, a different me. Someone that all my great friends from school never really see (or even my family, for that matter). As I was reflecting on my day, I came up with a cool expression for what models do:

We must be versatile and transform. We have to embody our character given to us, embody our role, as an actor or actress does. We fashion models get to make like a chameleon.

Thanks for reading!

Briauna Mariah

Friday, April 23, 2010

Facial PhotoTips for Fashion Modeling

If I had to choose the most important aspect of a great modeling photo shoot (within the model’s control), it would be the face.

When in front of the camera, it’s all about the “face dance.” There are many things you can do with your face when modeling.

Each model has her (or his) own obstacles to face. There is never one set way on how to model or, in this case, create different expressions in your face. But I can start you off with what works for me.

During my first modeling photo shoot with Leo Lam, I was told to exhale with my mouth slightly open. I didn’t know that doing so would show my teeth so much and now I’ve learned how to leave a gap between my lips while hiding my teeth at the same time. (The secret? I VERY slightly jut out my jaw and touch my teeth together. My lips shade over my teeth and there is still a gap there.) This gap is seen in a lot of photos and is very “model-y.” I would call this one of the standard poses with your lips.

The possibilities? Endless. Seriously. You can smile and show your pearly whites. You can smile with your mouth closed (for a more gentle look). You can give a devious half-smile. The slightest lift of the mouth can be the difference between a wild stare and a mischievous grin. A tiny squint of the eyes changes the story from bland to intense and dramatic. This is what it takes to make a mask of emotion believable.

This is where Tyra Bank’s famous term “smize” comes in. Smizing, smiling with your eyes, gives an intensity and life to a photo. If you aren’t doing anything with your eyes, the photo is going to lack luster. For me, smizing consists of slightly squinting my eyes, to make my eyes smile. You only need to smize if you’re not already smiling. If you’re smiling, your face automatically lifts and becomes livelier.

Here is a very helpful video on smizing from ANTM:

To perfect the face dance, the many poses you must know how to do with solely your face, practice in the mirror a lot! If you’re putting on makeup, try smizing. If you’re just in front of a mirror in passing, practice posing with your face.

Happy smizing!

Thanks for reading,

Briauna Mariah

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Walking the Fashion Runway

The (meeeeow) Walk. What I KNOW you’ve all been waiting for! Yes, it’s the catwalk, the strut, the runway, The Walk. There are videos online to help as you learn how to walk like a fashion model on the runway, but if those aren’t for you, listen up and I’ll give you some insider modeling secrets.

In my last blog, you learned about being confident on the fashion runway and in front of the camera. And as I wrote, I was thinking about the fashion model runway walk. Strut like there is no other. You are the most gorgeous model in the world: Let that confidence show in your runway walk and in your face.

Step 1. Look straight ahead; look fierce!

Step 2. Take long, graceful/strong/fierce steps. The “crossover” isn’t so popular with me. Don’t actually cross your legs over to the other side as you’re walking. I’ve never really seen any fashion models do this. Do walk in a very straight line, with one leg in front of the other. Keep your knees bending at a minimum. You want to be as tall as possible.

Step 3. Hips forward, shoulders up, back straight. Keep great posture, while kind of sticking out your hips. As Nick Casaus says, “Walk as if you are pushing a shopping cart with your hips.” It gives a nice curve to your body.

Step 4. Let your arms swing loosely, but controlled, with them almost behind you. Straighten your fingers a bit so they don’t curl and look shorter than they really are.

Step 5. Don’t be timid in your steps. Heels are loud (depending on the surface you’re walking on). One thing that held me back for a short time was being timid with my steps. Your steps are going to be loud, so let them be loud and clear, and strong.

Step 6. If you mess up, make the audience think you messed up on purpose. Don’t look embarrassed. Messing up never looked so smooth and good.

There are different kinds of turns for when you come to the end of the runway (and the beginning of the runway, for that matter). I suggest slowing down your runway walk slightly before the turn. Now, the turns are hard to describe through writing. I highly suggest watching professionals on the runway. A great website to watch fashion shows online is What I can tell you about turns is that your head should be the last thing that turns. Maybe even strike a dramatic pose at the end of the runway for the fashion photographer.

The whole idea is to really sell the garment you are wearing when it comes to fashion shows. For hair shows, it’s all about the hair. You want everyone to want what you have, even if it looks silly (because we all know that high fashion may look a little ridiculous and out-there at times). Whatever you have, you have to work it. Bad hair day? Work it. Bad hair is in style, haven’t you heard?

One video that really helped me when I was still learning can be found at this link (I’m surprised I found it so easily after a year): It covers anything else I can think of that I missed in here. I highly suggest watching it.


Good luck!

Thanks for reading,

Briauna Mariah :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Confidence on the Fashion Runway

No matter who you are, you have to believe in your inner and outer beauty in the world of fashion modeling. Confidence is beautiful. If you are not confident, you show fear, insecurity, and/or nervousness. Those are really the only options. Nothing shines brighter than the confidence in your stride and the unwavering spark in your eyes. Except perhaps that shiny silver dress you have to wear on the fashion runway. Be careful, if the light hits it just right… you might blind your spectators.

You’re gorgeous, so let the whole world know it. If you’re walking the fashion runway, you must be “strutting your stuff” like you are the most gorgeous person in the world. If you don’t believe it yourself, your/the modeling agency’s clients won’t believe it either.

This goes for “real life” as well. There isn’t any better way to get attention than to hold yourself high and be confident. Maybe even flash a nice, bright smile. Don’t care what anyone thinks; just assume they are admiring your looks, your confidence. Why not? I mean… you ARE the most gorgeous person in the world.

As I write this, I am mostly thinking of the fashion runway, and being confident in your stride. But it also goes for being in front of the camera. Confidence comes out into the shots. It gives photos a little something extra and makes them pop. It also looks good in person. If you are meeting a new fashion photographer and s/he sees your confidence, s/he will be more confident in you and their choice to work with you.

Oh, and no slouching! :)

Stay tuned for more insider tips. Next up: The Walk.

Thanks for reading,

Briauna Mariah

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Considering Fashion Modeling?

If you want to be a fashion model…

First, you have to do your research on local modeling agencies and decide out which one would represent you best and which one would want to represent you. There are a few I know of in Seattle, including SMG. There is Seattle Model Guild (SMG), TCM Models, and Heffner Management.

Modeling agencies usually put the information you need to know on how to get started on their website. This includes what kind of looks they want to represent, requirements in regards to age and size, what photos to submit to them, when to come to the agency for casting calls (casting calls are when they decide if they want to represent you or not). It’s different for each agency.

For me, I started out by submitting the required unprofessional photos to SMG online and they told me to come in for a casting call to meet them in person. I came in to meet them and they told me to come back in 6 months because I looked too young at the time (aka; I had too much “baby fat” in my cheeks and they wanted to wait that out before representing me). That is what they said too: too much baby fat. This is NOT meant to be taken personal and I took it just fine. One thing you have to know about the modeling world is that criticism is GOOD and it is not an attack at you personally. In fact, I’m pretty sure that goes for whatever you do in life. Criticism is really good and helps a person get further in an industry, depending what the person does with it. Anyways, I took the fact that they wanted to see me AGAIN in 6 months as a great sign because that meant they were interested in representing me still.

So I came back and they had me practice my catwalk for a month before making me an official model for them. I had to sign a contract for them with my mom (I’m sure each contract is different for every agency). Do not go along with an agency that makes you pay THEM. You will, however, have to pay a photographer for a test shoot to get your portfolio started. Also, you have to buy your own comp cards, which are like business cards for models, which include pictures and stats, and you have to get your photos printed out for your book (portfolio). I had to get two color laser prints of each photo in quality photograph-paper. My photoshoot with Leo Lam was $550 (SMG has a list of “approved” photographers you are allowed to get your test shoot with). To get 50 comp cards, it was about $80. To have all my photos printed, it was about $50. That is just to give you an idea of pricing.

What an agency does is send you out on casting calls for hair shows, fashion shows, photo shoots, etc. A bunch of models will show up at these casting calls in hopes to get hired by the company for the gig. Each casting is different. Sometimes the people there will look at your book, take your comp card, take pictures, watch your catwalk, etc. If you get the job, the agency (for SMG) gets 20% of what they pay. To actually get a job, you need to be going to a bunch of castings per day/week.

I THINK that covers everything… If you have questions, just ask me!

If you don’t think an agency is for you, check out (MM). It is free to join and it’s basically a myspace/facebook for models, photographers, makeup artists (MUA’s), etc. You don’t have to be an “official” model to join. Anyone serious about the industry can join. This is where I get most of my jobs, by connecting with people on this site. You have to be careful with who you work for, though. Some people on there are scams. You should always have a friend or family member come with you if you’re meeting someone from there for the first time. It’s always good to have someone come with you no matter what. If you want a list of safe people to work with on there… well you can just look at the list of people I’ve worked with in my “about me” section. The majority of those people are from MM.

Modelmayhem is a great site to get started for makeup artists, photographers, designers, hair stylists, photoshop “wizards,” and much more also!

Feel free to add me as a friend on Modelmayhem if you decide to join.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome Briauna Mariah

Please welcome our new contributor and co-author, Briauna Mariah. She has been writing a series of excellent "how-to" posts on modeling on Facebook and MySpace, and will definitely be an essential part of this blog in the future as we grow.