Pin up Photography Through the Ages

July 24, 2017

Pin up photography has been around for nearly a century and its popularity shows no signs of fading. From the showgirls and flapper girls of the 1920s to the glamourous Hollywood stars of the 1950s, Pin-up models ooze confidence and provide endless fashion inspiration.  If you are looking for ideas for your own vintage pin up photoshoot, take a trip back through time to find a vintage pin up style that matches your personality.


1920s
The roaring twenties was a period of social change, and in particular attitudes towards female sexuality were changing. Fashions had left the restrictive corsets and bustles of the Victorian era behind in exchange for flapper dresses and showgirl glamour. Alfred Cheney Johnston was famous for photographing all the beautiful chorus girls from the Broadway revue show ‘the Ziegfeld Follies’, who posed for photographs and paraded around the stage in a range of elaborate costumes. From aquatic style costumes adorned with pearls which expose panels of flesh, to strategically placed silk sheets; the Ziegfeld Girls pushed the boundaries of fashion and photography.

 

 

 

1930s
Moving into the 1930s, and pin up images are becoming much more playful and more colourful. Artists Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas would illustrate models in situations which reveal only a small, amount of stocking or lingerie, designed to be fun and exciting. The pin up girls of the 1930s exude confidence, using cheeky and joyful facial expressions to convey that they are truly enjoying the modelling experience. A key figure across the 30s and 40s was Betty Grable, who was famous for her poses in a bathing suit, and even had her trademark long legs insured by her film production studio.

 

 


1940s
Although there are many instances of pin up girls throughout history, the word ‘pin up’ was only coined in 1941. The term came from images of women being displayed over a double page in a magazine, and then pinned on the walls of soldiers to motivate them during the Second World War. A young Marilyn Monroe burst on to the pin-up modelling scene during this decade after being introduced to a photographer while working in a radio plane factory as part of the war effort. The key styles from this period were playful facial expressions, perfectly coiffed 1940s hairdos, and an emphasis on swimwear and lingerie. Gypsy Rose Lee’s elegant and witty burlesque acts were very popular at this time, and she was famed for the way she teased audiences. She even inspired the name of our company!

 

 


1950s
Hollywood glamour dominated pin up images from the 1950s. With Marilyn Monroe’s star continuing to rise, her image became symbolic for changing attitudes towards sexuality. Jayne Mansfield emphasised the ‘tease’ with seemingly accidental wardrobe malfunctions, such as a bra strap sliding sown the shoulder. Others such as Brigitte Bardot and Betty White radiate confidence and look completely comfortable in front of the camera. Bettie Page was another great icon from this time period, instantly recognisable with her jet black hair and trademark bangs.
Models were depicted in relaxed poses enjoying themselves; for example at the seaside or around the home. Nautical fashion led the way at this time; outfits were fun and playful and colours such as red, navy and white dominated images. Patterns were very popular; from swimwear to dresses with layered petticoats, the classic 1950s pin-up girl was embellished with polka dots and stripes, emphasising the playfulness of the style. 

 

 


Pin up photography has had enduring popularity and more and more women are seeking inspiration from vintage styles. Contemporary performers such as Dita Von Teese contribute to this popularity by bringing the confidence and glamour of the pin-up girl to mainstream media. The whole idea behind pin-up photography is fun and confidence, and we can help make you look and feel like these inspirational women. If you are interested in booking a pin up photoshoot, please get in touch.

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