— Glamour, Centerfold, Pinup, Boudoir Photography and us —
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you’ve always known you could do.
Glamour Photography, Boudoir, Centerfolds, Pinup and more….
We have great careers. We love making our clients look beautiful and sexy! We are influenced by both the older classic styles of pinup photography as well as the modern and dynamic fashion looks of today. If they want we can also give them the slick, polished, “Centerfold / Porn Star box cover” glossy look. Every shoot and every client brings us something new and fresh, with their own ideas, their own styles and their own faces and figures…. We just try to show them as they want to see themselves, and as we see them…. using all of the makeup, hair, lighting and other techniques we have available.
From the early days of gangsters and showgirls, the topless revues and the risque shows, to today’s multi-million dollar venues, starring the likes of Beyoncé, Madonna, Celine. Glamour and sexy images are synonymous with Las Vegas. The glitz and flash is visible everywhere. Visitors come from all over the world to partake in gambling, partying, and entertainment. So why not take a bit of the glamour and fun back home with you? in the way of high end, classy, elegant glamour or boudoir photos.
A Little History – Pinup Photography
Glamour Photography has been around since the development of the first cameras,
and the semi clad or partially nude and seductive female form has been the favorite subject of artists since the first records of man. Early photographers were very limited and finding models was not always easy. The cameras were large, bulky, expensive and complicated and before film the images were made on specially treated photo sensitive glass plates. Developing the images was also difficult. The final images were not very clear and the lenses were not very sharp. However… “where there is a will, there is a way” and early on in the entertainment business, film stars and their agents and producers soon discovered the success that came from having glamorous photos of their clients. A “photo is worth a thousand words” and beautiful, idealized, romanticized and glamorized photos made household names of many celebrities of the 20’s, 30’s and on up today. Photographers could use special posing, lighting and retouching techniques to make “stars” out of the most ordinary of women.
During World War II many soldiers found sexy, pinup photos of “Hollywood” starlets inspirational and comforting.
Something to live for. Many of their favorites went on to become well known actresses. After the war “Art” magazines, and “Nudist Lifestyle” publications allowed for ever more revealing photos to work their way into a still very conservative world. These publications while “pure”, even naive by today’s standards, were often banned and considered illegal in many parts of the country. Still the hunger for ever more revealing images continued. The Strip-Tease and Burlesque night clubs found their way into the cities and sexy photos of their stars became popular pinups. Gypsy Rose Lee, Tempest Storm, and Lily St. Cyr and Betty Page stirred the imagination of many young men. Las Vegas became know as Sin City and topless revues brought tourist from around the country.
My earliest recollection and fascination with Sexy Glamour models was probably around the age of 10 or 11
when TV guide had a little feature on the new European wave of “Sex Stars”. This was around 1957 and they had photos of Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren and Anita Ekberg amongs others. I was mesmerized by Anita Ekberg the photo of her in the TV guide gave me feelings I had never had before. I thought she was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I kept that TV guide under my bed for many months.
In the mid 50’s Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine brought female nudity to the American public.
He aimed his publication at middle America and brought not only photos, but a philosophy of life that changed America, and the world forever. Playboy celebrated the female form. He hired the best commercial photographers and booked the most beautiful and voluptuous models he could find. By the mid-60’s it seemed every gas station, frat house, or teen age male’s bedroom either had Playboy centerfolds on their wall or hidden somewhere nearby safe from prying eyes. The photos were very well done and the models exceptional. Marilyn Monroe was his first “Gatefold” and her best “exposure” yet. The 1960’s brought America into a new age. We were having growing pains and we saw our leaders and those we admired assassinated. We went to the moon and more and more began to question the culture of America. “Questioning Authority” and asking why? Rebelliousness was causing a divide between the old guard and newer generations that questioned their rules and their way of life. We found ourselves in a war that we did not understand and Americans found thousands of their friends, sons, and family dying in a war they did not understand. It was a time when the world was in turmoil and you had the “Love, and Peace” hippies, questioning everything — versus the “America Love it or Leave it” status quo.
Centerfolds push Pinup photos aside
In the late 70’s Penthouse magazine arrived on the scene.
In London a young American artist name Bob Gucionne was trying to start a new men’s magazine on a minimal investment. He did something that had never been done in a newstand publication. He included women with full frontal nudity, artistically photographed and prominent in his magazine. The photographic style was reminiscent of French impressionist painters, soft, romantic images, but these were photos of real women — not paintings — and totally nude. He was soon jailed. The publicity generated by both the explicitness and the attempt at artistic interpretation of sensuality and sexuality created a lot of interest, and in 1969 Penthouse began publication in the U.S. as a more sexual competition to Playboy.
With a new liberated approach to sexuality, advances in photography and new types of lighting equipment, the photography of women took a sylistic change. Pinup photography slowly fell by the wayside, becoming a nostalgic, and quaint niche, that only recently has found its footing once again.
I was a soldier in Vietnam in 68 – 69 and while Playboy was the mainstay, the new magazine called Penthouse with their more erotic style really caught everyone’s attention.
I worked in the photolab of a mapping unit and had bought a Nikon camera while there. I really liked photography and took a lot of photos there and also when I came home on leave. I did my first sexy photos of women during those Vietnam years. I had always been good at art and liked to draw pictures of sexy girls from cartoons and comic books – and the camera made it all come to life. I photographed my girlfriends in that time in sexy, pinup styles and we found it exciting and loved the results. I was hooked. I got out of the Army in 1970, and moved to the beach in Santa Monica shortly thereafter. In 1972 I enrolled as a commercial photography student at Santa Monica College. I worked as graphic arts cameraman at a Santa Monica newspaper during much of the time and spent the rest at school.
It was the 70’s, and everybody was pretty much into everything that was wild and crazy.
I found no problem finding willing models for my school assignments as well as doing my early attempts at Playboy, Penthouse style glamour photos. I admired and was influenced by the work of David Hamilton, Francis Giacobetti, Bob Guccione, Stan Malinowski, Ken Marcus, Jeff Dunas, Philip Dixon, Guy Bordin, Patrick Demarchelier, Richard Fegley (and all the old Playboy guys) As the 70’s progressed and glamour photography continued to evolve, so did the explicitness of the centerfold and feature photos in Penthouse. Even Playboy jumped in for a short time as did all the other men’s magazines that had came into the market. I wasn’t offended in the slightest. I liked doing sexy shoots. It was in late 1975 that one of the girls I had done nudes on asked me to submit her to Playboy. I submitted her and showed them other work that I had done. I hoped they might want me to shoot for them, but it was not to be.
Playboy was interested in one of my models….
but said my work was too Penthouse style for them. So I thought, hmmm… maybe I should try Penthouse. One of the girls I had photographed, said she would love to do Penthouse. Back then they had an office on Sunset Blvd, just a couple of blocks west of the Playboy building. I told her we would need something more explicit for Penthouse… and she said that was “not a problem…” Photography was expensive and I had only the money I made at the newspaper and from the GI bill. Luckily (?) I had been rear-ended on the freeway the year before, which kinda screwed up my back and I received a pretty decent settlement of about $8000 and had enough money left over to buy a three light studio strobe setup a new Nikon F2AS with motor and lens, and a RB67 that I used mainly for polaroiding my lighting. The film and processing was still expensive, but I had a great equipment to start.
I felt I needed a feminine touch to my photos, somebody that could do the makeup, hair and help me with the styling.
Even back then, I knew that good makeup could make or break a photoshoot and was so very important. I had tried to do it myself but I just didn’t have the knowledge and training, and I wasn’t very good. My old photo instructor introduced me to a student named Gigi Chavira that had shot some fashion stuff for an assignment in his class. I asked her to do makeup for me and help with the styling on the shoots for a small fee and she agreed. We finally submitted the shots to Penthouse in late 1976. I had submitted at what turned out to be the perfect time. Photographer Jeff Dunas had left Penthouse a couple of years before, and Ken Marcus had just left as well and was going to Playboy. Only Earl Miller was shooting in L.A. an it turned out they wanted someone else in town as well. I got along well with the office staff and with their help and support, as well as the great work from Gigi, I unknowingly began a career that still continues today. My life as a real-life centerfold glamour photographer was on it’s way.
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By the late 70’s Penthouse circulation had climbed to a level almost equal to Playboy’s, and Larry Flynt’s “Hustler” with its “explicitness for explicitness sake” was hot on the heels of both of them. My first Penthouse centerfold was December of 1978. Her magazine name was Amber Ramsey and she was a trained ballet dancer from somewhere north of L.A. My first tests shots on her were “very Penthouse” Guccione-like with a bit of David Hamilton thrown in… beautiful, pastels, soft, romantic, but also very directly sexual and explicit. Penthouse loved the shoot and by the time it was published in December, I had 3 other centerfolds already accepted and in line for publication. I was heavily inspired by Bob Gucionne’s photography, and the way he posed and directed his models, styling and settings, which is probably why he liked my work.
In the 80’s Centerfold men’s magazines became a huge business
Magazines were riding the wave, but adult videos were gaining rapidly in popularity as everyone got video recorders. There was a lot of competition within the magazines. Hustler was the only one growing at that time, but everyone there was so crazy, we figured that they would implode at any moment. They almost did several times, but Flynt was crazy like a fox and the magazine kept strong. The soft focus, gauzy look of the photos from 70’s Penthouse became a standing joke and Hustler’s super sharp images and high quality, glossy printing (not to mention their penchant for extreme explicit shots!) drew more and more readers. Copy cat publications popped up all over, not only in the US but around the world. The demand for models and photosets for all these publications was growing rapidly.
I was fortunate to be a Penthouse Staff photographer as they began licensing foreign editions.
I had been shooting like crazy and spending time in Hawaii and shooting in amazing locations and had just once again made contact with Playboy, when I was offered the opportunity to go and help “jump-start” the new German Edition of Penthouse. I was given exactly 4 days to get a Passport and be ready to go — to a small town in Italy where the new owners lived during the summer. Nobody knew the city and I had no idea what to expect. Wow!… this was all happening very fast. The publishers of the German Penthouse, had a castle in that small town in Italy… yes, a real castle!… and it sat overlooking the Italian Riviera. It was an amazing trip, and they wanted me to shoot 6 centerfolds for them in 6 weeks…. and they needed shoots on a regular basis. It was too good to be true, but it was.
Suddenly I was flying all over the place, making lots of money and having no idea what all I was doing.
I was photographing girls all the time it seemed. Most didn’t speak much English and in the beginning I spoke NO German! It was very interesting and a lot of fun. Much of the time it was just the two of us, the model and me… with a makeup artist in shouting distance, shooting in and around the castle grounds where ever we wanted. I met the publisher’s family and they treated me really fantastically. I ate with the family every day and had a chance to experience a lifestyle most only dream about. It was also a lot of work. I did not have an assistant and did all my own schlepping of equipment. (my back today is testament to all the schlepping I did.) However I was also paid very well — something I have come to appreciate even more now than I did then.
Glamour photography for the German newsstand publications was a bit different
For one thing the styling for the models… the big hair, dragon lady finger nails, strong tan lines and crazy makeup which was big in the US at the time, was not popular at all in Europe, and the more explicit “Hustler Style” photos were definitely NOT allowed in Germany. In Germany newsstand publications have strict censorship rules and regulations. Everyone thinks that in Germany there is pornography everywhere — not true. Any publication sold on the newsstand to the general public is under “Youth Protection Regulations” where what you can show and what you can NOT show and HOW you show or don’t show it, is highly regulated. In the Sex Shops you can purchase most any type of pornography you can imagine, however entry into these sex shops is not allowed for anyone under 18 years.
However, in most of Europe bare breasts or butts are allowed practically everywhere,
they stare out at you from every newsstand, and it is not uncommon for mainstream publications to have bare bosomed models on their covers adorning every magazine seller’s windows. Nudity is just more natural there. Lakes, beaches, and parks all have clothing optional areas. The styles of glamour photography, or in this case centerfold photography or even model photography in general, can differ greatly on what is allowed from state to state and most certainly from country to country. Most Europeans found the American obsession with nudity and sexuality quite humorous. For them it is much more a normal part of life, and therefore nothing to fear or obsess on. They enjoy being nude at the beach, and appreciate beautiful bodies and they are certainly very sexually active. The age of consent is 16 years in Germany and sexual crimes are at a much lower rate there. I loved the European attitudes on sexuality and nudity, it seemed fresh and clean.
I moved to Germany in January of 1984 and worked for the German Penthouse full time.
I photographed most every centerfold and cover for the magazine over the next 2 1/2 years. I worked as a staff photographer, with producer Uschi Borsche a wonderful and talented makeup artist and hair stylist from the German cinema who had her own studio in Munich. She did makeup and hair, produced the layouts, and together we styled them and I photographed them. It was a great time. She had contacts with high-end clothiers and great locations and we were able to lend a more fashion oriented twist to the shoots we did there.
It was during this time that I began producing and syndicating my own photoshoots.
All of the smaller American publications as well as American Penthouse were interested in buying layouts from me. I would hire models that German Penthouse turned down for whatever reason, and shoot them on “speculation” and syndicate the productions, offering specific publication rights to the photos to magazines, calendars, books and publishers around the world. It was smart for me to do it because all of the work done for Penthouse was owned by them, and my private productions were owned 100% by me. However this caused problems as the publisher of Penthouse wanted that I remain exclusive to them. Once I moved there, he knew he “had me” and the amount he was paying became smaller and smaller… and only doing a layout or two a month was not keeping me busy. I had many models who wanted to shoot, so shooting on my own was the logical and necessary thing to do. When I continued tensions ran high and I felt it was time for a change.
I called the chief editor of the Germany Playboy, and met with him….
We worked out an agreement that I would shoot centerfolds, features and covers for them using my real name and that anything else would be published under a pseudonym. This worked great. Jon Harroll, John Midi and Jack Callis were born. I got quite a bit of work and attention there the first year. however I was not very popular with the other Playboy photographers or the art director. I heard many years later that there had been little side deals where money was being kicked back from the photographers in exchange for assignments. I never did that. I had by-passed the art director and had got the job working there before either of us had even met. He did not like that from the beginning. I was also doing productions in less time and for less costs than the other photographers, (as I had no reason to pad my time or expenses) It took him almost two years to find a way to get back at me, but after terrible weather in Hawaii caused me to come up with a couple of sub-par shoots he apparently convinced the powers to be that it was my fault and my arrogance that resulted in the poor productions.
By this time Christiné and I had fallen in love and were anyhow thinking about getting married and moving back to the states.
After my experience being staff for the Penthouse and then the German Playboy, I vowed to never work exclusively for anyone again. They did jump start my career in a big way but at the time I could do better financially and creatively by doing my own productions and licensing them. We came back to the states and setup a tiny studio in a friend’s hair salon in Westwood (Los Angeles) in 1988 and moved to a larger place in south Hollywood/Wilshire area in 1990.
We began shooting all kinds of photography work that I was not doing much of before.
We were doing a lot of headshots, portfolios, promo photos, a few weddings, and lots of makeovers for business women and realtors we met through a PR firm we often worked for. We enjoyed doing photo makeovers the most. We would do the professional commercial business portrait shots, and then do something very glamorous or a bit crazy sexy shots with them. It was a lot of fun, and the women loved it. Back then I did my own print retouching (Photoshop wasn’t yet around) and it was a tremendous amount of work, almost like doing a painting. We were still doing independent centerfold style productions and then selling limited rights on layouts we produced to the German, Australian, and English editions of Penthouse, as well as some foreign editions of Playboy and many other independent US and International men’s magazine publications.
The early 90’s were a time when the magazine business had become very diluted and everyone was trying to find their place..
Strip clubs were the hot item, and the girls that worked in them wanted to be in magazines so they could become feature dancers. The magazines became promotional vehicles for them and for the clubs and for the adult films being produced. We had agents bringing in girls all the time… many at the time came from Canada, all wanting to be shot for a magazine. There were some really great models coming through — too many for us to shoot all that we wanted. Boob jobs were IN… tan lines were IN… big hair was IN, and strippers were everywhere… unfortunately the rest of the world was not crazy about this look. We were hooked up with magazines that liked more of a European style – a more natural sexiness, casual, more “real girl” of the time… We de-glammed the models, we did grunge style shoots, put the girls in Doc Martins, and tried to avoid the stripper clichés on much of what we shot. It gave us a niche that kept our photosets selling well Internationally.
In 1991 I was approached by a company who was getting ready to market a little item called a “Photo CD”
It was something kind of new, where people could look at photos in full color on their computers! I wasn’t sure about these guys (at the time, I only had a vintage IBM running DOS that could not show photos of ANY kind!) but they seemed really on the up and up, and they offered a nice commission on sales… they needed stuff fast because the big computer shows were coming up… and photos on computers, they said, was the next “Hot Market”. It sounded worth a try, so we did an edit of some “left over” shots we had, and sent them a few hundred. These Photo CD things sold like crazy! The company wanted more, and we gave them more, they dropped prices and our commission percentages but the sales continued to grow at a rate that more than made up for it. It was great while it lasted, and it allowed us to rev up our business and eventually move to Las Vegas and buy our home here.
(to be continued… one of these days)