Pinup Editing: A Before & After

So, on the heels of my last blog post (you can see it here: Can You Make Me Thinner?), I was talking with a group of friends and the conversation turned to body image, editing and changing the way a woman looks. Sometimes it is hard for a women to visualize what editing can do since we only ever see the “after” in the media. We see the results of careful retouching (and sometimes not-so-careful…lol) around of every day, often times not even noticing it!

In my past post I talked about how to editing process works at our studio and how I handle my retouching. Sure, that is all great and good, but for someone who doesn’t sit in front of the computer all day doing it, it can be really hard to imagine the results. When I look at a proof image I already know exactly what I am going to “do” when I edit it. I can picture the finished image in my head 9 times out of 10. I try to remember though, that it isn’t like that for most people (No lie, I DREAM about editing pretty often, lol!).

So anyway, one friend mentioned that I should show “Before & Afters” of finished photos. I’ve been working on a gallery of Before & After transformations of my clients… documenting what they look like the moment they walk through the studio door and then showing a final, finished photo from their shoot. While I can explain how and what I edit, it would be a thousand times as powerful to SHOW it! I laughed… not because I thought it was a silly idea (because I thought it was brilliant!) but because I couldn’t imagine asking someone to show an unedited photo from their session. Editing is 50%  art and 50% magic and I wouldn’t want to ruin the impact of either by showing a side by side. Then the real magic happened… my friend suggested I use her recent Valentine’s pinup image as an example. Well, I’m surprised no one had to pick me up and put me back in my chair!! I never expected anyone to volunteer for the cause!

So I went home and sent her the “before,” which she hadn’t seen yet. Her response… “Wow! I hadn’t realized you did that much work!” Lol! But really, I didn’t do that much work to her at all! It was pretty much just the normal, standard changes that I make to most pinup photos. It is important to remember that, if we are talking about the painted pinups of Vargas and Elvgren, the girls weren’t real!!! They were PAINTINGS! Want to see some of the photo references for Gil Elvgren’s paintings? Look here… it is brilliant…

Here’s an example:




Pinups are a fantasy, an illusion, perfectly flawless! If you look at the paintings, all of the girls have impossibly long legs, perfectly perky boobs, huge hair, itty-bitty waists, tiny feet… you get the idea! Part of reproducing this look is in the impossible proportions! I’m not saying you won’t be you… but I am saying that I “do” more to a pinup photo than other styles I shoot. Of course, I CAN do this kind of editing to any photo from your session if you request it!

So, here is her “before” image, straight out of the camera with absolutely nothing done to it…


She obviously looks lovely! There were a few changes to be made in the process of creating a “pinup” though! First, her tummy will get a little push in. It is important to point out that this pose does this to EVERYONE! Go ahead, try it right now and you’ll see what I mean! Plus, as much as love Frederick’s corsets, they don’t have the steel bones and lung-crushing power of the high-end options! The little tricep bump on her upper arm also comes from posing and pulling the arm back against the body… absolutely normal. For most of my other styles of photography, these posing issues are handled while shooting. Pinup is an exception, though, because the poses are classic! I can deal with a little extra editing to get that perfect, classic pose!

Here is the “after” of this same image:



You’ll see the obvious changes… some minor body shaping, bigger hair, improvement of the fit of the corset and pushing the tummy into compensate for the pose. Pinup calls for that perfect, porcelain skin, bright eyes and that pop of every detail in her wardrobe. Some of the shaping you see has nothing to do with actual reshaping of her body either but, instead, manipulating the highlights and shadows. And, as you can see, she obviously needed no help in the cleavage department! LOL! I also removed the distracting corset string and added some extra rose petals.

So there you have it. A little art, a little magic and a gorgeous end result perfectly balanced between retro and modern.



A HUGE thank you to this lovely girl for encouraging me to post this and for allowing herself to be “dissected” for the sake of art! Words can’t even describe how grateful I am! <3