Category Archives: Pinup

Japanese Pinup With Kimberly

This image is part of a shoot with model Kimberly Boenker. A video of this shoot is part of the Practical Pinup Online Workshop.

I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I don’t normally do a lot of photoshop magic. I clean up skin, (without blurring), do some sharpening, color correction, and that’s about it. But Kimberly had this idea for a Japanese pinup girl.

She wanted to hold the sword and then have a big red circle behind her, making it look like a Japanese flag.

Well after watching a couple of video at Planet Photoshop I had a new way of cutting a model out of the background using channels and levels. I also shot it knowing that I wanted her on a plain white background so I could cut her out easier.

I think it looks pretty good.

Model: Kimberly Boenker

Japanese Pinup with Kimberly
Japanese Pinup with Kimberly

I do have a question though. Do you think I need to glow to separate her from the circle?

Practical Pinup Online Workshop Excerpt

This is an excerpt from the ebook that is part of the Practical Pinup Online Workshop. The ebook is a highly edited transcript of the video lecture from my $300 a person pinup workshop. To get information about the three stages of Pinup, go to the Practical Pinup Online Workshop page.

The Three Stages of Producing Pinup

I’m going to go through the three stages of producing a pinup image.


The first is preproduction. You’re not just winging it when you’re shooting pinup. When I shoot fashion, I can say, “Model, we’re going to shoot fashion. Show up, bring clothes. We’ll have a makeup artist and we’ll figure it out when you get here.” When you’re shooting pinup, that’s a whole lot harder to do. In theory, you can go, “Show up pinup-y,” you know, “bring your Halloween costume.” But you’re not going to get something iconic at the end necessarily.

Begin With An End in Mind

You need to begin with an end in mind, to quote Steven Covey.

You have to have an idea of what the final image is supposed to be. It is always a good idea when you’re shooting ” especially when you’re doing model photography ” to have an idea of where you’re going. With pinup, you have to be much more specific.

Start with, “What’s my icon? Am I doing fifties housewife? Am I doing traveling? Am I doing nurse?” That’s my icon.

Arrange Details

Next “What’s my story?” For example, I know I’m going to do traveling. She’s going to have a suitcase, the suitcase is going to fall open or something like that. This tells you to arrange those details ahead of time. If she’s supposed to have a suitcase full of clothes that fall out on the floor, then you have to have a suitcase, you have to have the correct clothes. You can’t just grab t-shirts and jeans and put them in there because now you’ve messed up the era. You’ve messed up the details. You have to arrange those details a ahead of time.

Plan Post-Production

Another thing you have to plan is what you’re going to do at the end. Nowadays, since we have Photoshop we can do all kinds of things at the end. And I’m going to talk about post-production, about what to do when you’re finally finished. But in some cases, you know you’re going to do something in post, and you have to shoot for that thing.

I have a friend who’s a photographer in California. He was shooting an image for Monster energy drinks, and his idea was to shoot Bride of Frankenstein girls in lingerie. One of them is Frankenstein, and the other one is on top of her, pouring Monster into her mouth.

Now, you could shoot that once. You could say, “Model A, pour the drink into Model B’s mouth.” You’d have once chance to catch the pour in mid stream, because after that Model B is going to be covered in energy drink and her makeup is going to be a mess.

He wanted the model on the bottom as Bride of Frankenstein waking up, and he wanted the other model on top of her pouring the Monster in there, because that’s the product. He wanted the liquid coming out of the can that the model on top was holding and the drink in mid-fall between them. He’s a master with Photoshop, so he knew what he could do in post.

He shot the Bride on the ground, he shot the Bride with the other model on top of her. Then he took the Bride model out, and he put a bucket in her place, and they poured over and over again into the bucket. Shooting the drink to catch it in midstream. So that at the end, he could take that and Photoshop the pour in.

So if you’re going to do something like that, which pinup can lend itself to, you need to know that in advance, and you need to plan how you’re going to shoot that.

You know, sometimes you might want to put a model on a background that you don’t have. Like, maybe you want to shoot her in front of classic airplane. World War II era airplanes. You don’t have World War II era airplane, but you do have pictures of them, so you know you’re going to put her in front of one. You have to have some pretty good skills to do that. But if you want to make it look like she’s where the airplane is, you need to think about where the light was on the airplane. Then you light her so it matches up when you put her on the other image.

The point is you need to plan your post-production. If you’re going to do something big, you need to plan it in advance. You need to know what that is before you go into shooting.

You may even have to get to the point of doing like a shot list, I know I need these shots. A lot of times when I’m shooting with a model, I’ll have a shot list anyway, because especially with less experienced models, they need direction, they need to know what you’re going to shoot.

And so it’s good to have a shot list with that, but it’s imperative if you’re going for some funky concept with pinup that you have that all set out ahead of time.

I’m going to talk a little bit in the post-production part of this book about how some people like to make pinup look drawn. They like to take pinup photography and make it look drawn. If you’re going to do that, then that affects you’re shooting, because a lot of things don’t matter if you’re doing that. If you’re going to go in in post-production and do huge amounts of Photoshop to the thing, then blemishes and wrinkles and tags and imperfections don’t matter as much because all those details are going to go away. So you need to know if that’s the style you’re going for at the end.

I’m not a big fan of doing drawing. If you want to draw it, draw it. If you want to shoot it, shoot it. But that can make a big difference.

This is an excerpt from the ebook that is part of the Practical Pinup Online Workshop. The ebook is a highly edited transcript of the video lecture from my $300 a person pinup workshop. To get information on get more information about the three stages of Pinup, go to the Practical Pinup Online Workshop page.

Pinup Makeup with Erica

Makeup and hair is one of the key elements of Pinup photography. Matter of fact, since you can do nude pinup photography, makeup and hair can be the whole thing. You give a model a retro hair style and retro makeup and you’ve got a pinup image, even if she’s not wearing anything else.

Here’s a couple of images of retro makeup.

MUA: Kimberly Boenker
Model: Erica Kelly