I was a pin-up model for a day, and I loved it!
My co-workers at this newspaper may know me as a mild-mannered, modest, somewhat shy assistant editor, but my family and closest friends will tell you that, at times, I can be outgoing, energetic and pretty brave.
So, when I heard my editor wanted someone to give Things To Look At’s Pin-Up Special a try, I jumped at the chance. I’ve always loved the 1940s vintage style — the hair, make-up and clothes look so glamorous — and, secretly, I’ve always wanted to try it but certainly didn’t think I’d ever get the chance.
Plus, who wouldn’t want to play dress up and be a model for a day? Not to mention Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and the pictures will make a great gift.
To make sure my nerves didn’t get the best of me as I took the R train into Manhattan, I reminded myself that after the shoot, I would be proud that I had, for one day, thrown caution to the wind and had become a bit of an exhibitionist. Not too much of an exhibitionist, though. These pictures are going in the paper!
I arrived at Things To Look At’s studio in TriBeCa with everything the photographer, Burke Heffner, told me to bring — a photo I.D., a make-up-free face, some outfits to wear and my iPod with which to play my favorite songs to keep me energized during the shoot (I may or may not have stopped at a bar beforehand for a cocktail with which to steady my nerves).
I was immediately put at ease when I arrived and was greeted with a big hug Burke and professional hair and make-up artist Jessica Padilla. We began the session by discussing what look I wanted to go for, and Burke gave me a book of pin-up posters to look through, plus some photos from his own sessions.
I definitely wanted to go all out with this chance I was given, so we decided to start with some dark, Old Hollywood glamour shots. I joined Jessica in the make-up room, and she went to work.
It was great to sit and relax while we talked and she did my hair and make-up. When she told me that women ranging from extremely outgoing to terribly shy have done what I was about to do, my nerves eased up and I was able to look forward to my shoot.
I soon learned that modeling is a lot of work. Burke explained that I would need to keep my hands soft and feminine, my stomach would have to be sucked in, and I’d have to look calm and dreamy. With that I took to the set and channeled my inner Greta Garbo.
Burke took hundreds of photos of me in several different positions before I changed into my next dress and we changed the set. I was glad we started with the glamour photos, because it allowed me to loosen up for the next set, in which I would have look flirty and bubbly.
Burke came up with the amazing idea to roll a sheet of bubble-gum pink paper from the wall to the floor. I would lay on the paper, and would be surrounded with blue-tinted wine glasses. He had me try on a blue dress that looked like a 1950s prom gown – fitted up top with a huge skirt made of ruffles. The combination of the pink paper and the light blue dress looks like cotton candy – I love it!
We again played with several different poses of me looking at the camera, looking away from the camera, smiling, looking serious and making silly faces. Of course, I again had to stay in difficult poses while making it look effortless.
All those hours watching America’s Next Top Model actually paid off – I knew to keep changing my facial expressions and where my hands were placed.
The whole shoot took almost seven hours. I was exhausted and sore from posing for so long, but it was worth it! The experience was liberating — for one day I felt confident, glamorous, beautiful and, I’ll say it, downright sexy.
The next day, I received an email from Burke with a link to the best pictures from my shoot. I got to pick my favorites, and those will be retouched and sent to me.
I’ll be honest, when I saw those photos on my computer screen, I cried. I wasn’t expecting to look that good!
I took a chance – I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know if I would be good, but I got so much more out of it than a couple of pretty photos. I got to step outside of my comfort zone, and the result was seeing myself like I never had before. All my insecurities about my body I had built up over the years didn’t seem that bad anymore.
All I can say is, I know what I’m doing next February – going back for round two!
I’ll receive a disc of all my photos from the shoot, and one 12” x 8” of my favorite, which will be proudly displayed in the living room once I receive it in the mail (my roommates are just as excited as I am).
Assistant editor by day, pin-up model by night? This just may be my new calling.
Things To Look At is located in TriBeCa, Manhattan at 59 Franklin St B-10.
To book a shoot or ask general questions, email info@thing