Creative Family Photos

A creative family photo with weapons.

Creative Family Photos in Spokane

My good friend Abbey isn’t normal.  In fact, I think she would be offended if I called her that.  With her kids growing up and the addition of a new dog, it was time to get some new pictures for her wall.  We started talking about what we should do for her portraits – considering the beautiful Riverfront Park or the moody Browne’s Addition neighborhood. We knew it couldn’t be boring or traditional – that just didn’t fit with her personality.  She said she wanted some creative family photos, and that is exactly what we came up with.

Her kiddos love zombies, gaming, and playing around. The youngest, Isaac, even has an impressive sword collection. What better way to show off their uniqueness and personality than to have an apocalyptic family photo.   With a little bit of planning, we were able to come up with a pretty cool concept that looked like it could be the poster for an AMC TV show.

Family Members for Composite into Create Family PhotoTo create this, I first photographed each person on their own. I wanted to control the lighting so each person would really pop – especially with their weapons. I used the same lighting set-up for each of the four people, so they would look like they all belonged together. Next, I took all the photos into photoshop and cut out the background from each person so I could composite everyone together.  I dropped in a post-apocalyptic background and then toned everything to match the edgy look.  The nerf guns also had to be aged to look less like toys and more like zombie destroying weapons.

Once the composite was complete, I aged it up a bit and got it ready for printing.  It is now the focal point of their living room wall.  Abbey’s said it fits her family perfectly and gets tons of comments from her friends.  Talk about creativity!  I love my job.

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Out Of The Shadows Theatre – Beauty and the Beast Jr

I recently had the pleasure of working withOut of the Shadows Theatre on their recent production of Beauty and the Beast Jr. Holy cow was this an experience!

The actors are composed of adults with special needs. They are joined onstage by non-disabled “shadow actors” who prompt, coach, and support them. A professional crew, set, and lighting team all come together to make a professional caliber show. Local legends Ellen Travolta, Jack Bannon and Molly Allen joined the team, too. Wendy Carroll produced it, and my mom, Tia Wooley, was the stage manager.

You could tell right away there was so much support and excitement in the air. When Rachel and I arrived to start getting some backstage photos, the line to get in the theatre stretched across the entire lobby of the Kroc Center. The house was completely sold out, with 200 people being turned away from the show. I’m pretty sure that is a new record for the Kroc center (the current home of the CDA Summer Theatre). Some stayed and watched the show from the monitors in the lobby. The second day was also sold out.

Here is a quick cell phone video I took as the house filled up and people were being turned away.

A video posted by Chris Wooley (@pinupchris) on

The real magic of the show happened after the opening number. All of the actors had just finished and the crowd erupted into loud cheering and applause. Not the typical polite clapping you get from most shows – but genuine, full, and proud applause. You couldn’t help but smile the entire time as the actors embodied their characters with full support and love from everyone around them. It was truly magical.

The energy and excitement carried on throughout the show as the actors transformed to play the parts. You could hear whispers in the audience: “He’s not like this at home – he so quite and to himself” – and shouting from family members and friends.

This was a wonderful production, and one I’m glad I was able to document.

The Making of “Mary Jane” – a Grow Room Painted Portrait

This was a fun opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down.  A friend of mine operates a legal marijuana grow room in Washington State. He knows that I photograph pin-ups and said I could use his room as the background for a themed pin-up set.

The space wasn’t huge and had huge grow lights all over it. They produced a yellow/magenta type light that was really bright and not very flattering.  The walls were also bright white. This was going to be a challenge to get a compelling image in these conditions. So we set a shoot date and I started planning.

The Grow Room with Lights on.

The Grow Room with Lights on.

We got a bit of a shock when the plants matured early.  I got a call that we needed to shoot that night or we wouldn’t be able to do it. The plants were being harvested in the morning.  Yikes!  Luckily, we were able to pull off the quick deadline.

The goal was to do a Light Painted portrait, creating a composite of a bunch of different images into one final product.  By doing this, I could turn off the grow lights and use a 24″ gridded softbox and a wireless flash to “paint” the crops and the model – each in separate shots.  This image is a composite of 39 separate images, combined in photoshop. Each one highlighted a different plant, with light coming from a different direction. The goal was twofold: I needed it to look magical AND I needed to make it look big.  Light painting solved this problem.

Marijuana Light Painting 4 Marijuana Light Painting 3 Marijuana Light Painting 2 Marijuana Ligh Painting

With the images combined, I added the model into the mix.  She was shot “live” where she was standing – and this shot was added to the light painted composite.  I used the same 24″ gridded softbox as the key light and a smaller gridded flash as an accent light. We selected a red corset top for two reasons: it complimented the green of the plants and the room – and as a bonus, it matched the color of her dreadlocks perfectly.  The color harmony was amazing!

Once everything was combined into a single image, I was really able to check out the detail. By using so many lights from so many different angles, all the detail was really striking.  Infact, it was a bit too powerful as it distracted from the impact of the model. I decided I needed to digitally paint the plants to add the surreal look. I kept the colors from the light painting, which were striking, and used the outlines as inspiration for the painted look.  Afterwards, I combined the two layers – the painted and the photo – and came up with a hybrid look.  This is what you see in the final image.

I didn’t like having the back wall fall off into a dark black, so I made it a green to compliment the green tones of the plants. A vignette was also added to the image to pull attention into the model.

Overall, this was a fun experience.

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2010s – History of Pin-up

2010s Pin-Up Girl by Chris Wooley

A Highly Polished image featuring two models, artistic tattoos, bright and creative hair, and piercings.

This 2010s have reached us, and have continued to push our boundaries. Tattoos are no longer controversial. Piercings are mainstream. Nudity is common in films and online content. Facebook, Reddit, and Tumblr have made content sharing easy and accessible. Online streaming, Netflix, and non-traditional media services have removed the controversy of having language and nudity in mainstream content. And we’ve just barely passed the half-way mark of this decade.

We have the alternative look of bright creative hair, well done tattoos and ample piercings. Photoshop has come to an all new level, allowing for flawless skin and polished studio like images. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the iPhone. Selfies are leading the way for the modern voyeur. Instagram filters, Myspace angles, and ducklips set the trends for mass distribution through popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Internet stars have even taken advantage of the new mediums, like Kim Kardashion who released a book of nothing but her Instagram selfies.

So what does the future hold for the pin-up girl? That’s a bit up in the air. But if historical patterns hold true, my guess is that we’ll see a swing back to the natural sweet girl with a unique style. We’ll have casual and natural processes (not overly photoshopped), and the images will be spread to unique subscribers as part of an ever growing fanbase.

 

<< 2000s History of Pin-Up 

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2000s – History of Pin-up

Technology! Y2K, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone, and space launches. These are all defining elements as we enter the 2000s.  We have now entered the digital age. Just like magazine, movies, and TV shows all helped shape our cultural ideals, the internet shaped this decade.

2000s Pin-Up Girl by Chris Wooley

Clean modern lines, vibrant colors, tattoos and piercings all help define the pin-up girl of the 2000s. Photo by Chris Wooley

No longer are we limited to what media producers find to be acceptable. The internet served as a gateway into what the public wanted. Anyone could take a photo and post it online for the world to see. And many people did.  You could find just about any particular subject you were interested in – from Pez collectiable items to classic literature. It was a place to share and learn.

And you guessed what happened next. Porn! The stigma associated with finding and watching porn quickly dissolved as you could now download, view, and share naughty images online.  Perhaps the greatest challenge was the download speeds of the early 2000s. It took forever to download a single pixelated image – and even longer for a video clip.

From this, though, we see how the wants and desires of the popular masses helped shape what we see.  In the 1990s, tattoos and body piercings were becoming more mainstream.  But in the 2000s, we can see the development of these modifications in our poster women of choices.  No longer were they hid behind the cultural morals of big media.

And as we’ve seen repeatedly, as the new technology pushes us outside of our comfort zone, the need to push the envelope continues to grow. We get more and more daring in what we consider sexy, appropriate, and beautiful.

 

<<< 1990s History of Pin-up                           2010s History of Pin-up >>>

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1990s – History of Pin-up

1990s Pin-Up. Note the bombshell figure and location setting. Perfect for a poster. Photo by Chris Wooley

1990s Pin-Up. Note the bombshell figure and location setting. Perfect for a poster. Photo by Chris Wooley

The 1990s were a fun transitional period. Beanie Babies, Bleached Hair and Boy Bands were popular.  They were mostly analog times, with the start of digital things –  DVDs existed, but you couldn’t stream a movie. Cellphones were around, but they were used primarily for phone calls and occasional texting. The internet was just being developed, and the newspaper and magazine still held supreme.  Economics were relatively good; war was short(ish); and OJ Simpson was not guilty.

Let’s cue up the pin-up girl. She has progressed from the over stylized 1980s, but is still relatively tame. Her figure is important – usually with long legs and full busts. She is engaging and almost flirty.

TV shows and Movies have really helped shape the celebrities of the era. Shows like Baywatch featured well endowed women in beach wear that shows off the figure. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition is more popular than ever. These were dream women and total knockouts. We see this decade as one of the last eras of the poster girl that is actually “pinned up”.

<<< 1980s                              2000s >>>

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1980s – History of Pin-Up

Party Dance Time! We’ve reached the fashion explosion known as the 1980s on our History of Pin-Up tour.  And just like every other time we get bawdy beyond good taste, we bounce back like a bungee jumper back into conservative taste.

1980s Style

1980s Inspired Pin-Up. Note the bright colors, big hair, and work-out wardrobe. She’s fit to be a star. Photo by Chris Wooley

The 1970s pushed the boundaries of sexuality, mass production, and teenage boy hormones.  So we’ve got to respond by flipping it around and putting on an ultra glamorous persona.  Welcome 1980s and all its glory.

Lets start be checking out the style of the time period. Enter vibrant color, big hair, and caked on make-up. There’s a reason so many school spirit weeks have a day dedicated to 80s fashion: it’s memorable.  From neon workout attire to Hammer pants – you know the look of the 80s when you see it. And the pin-up world loved it.

Ok – now for the major influences of the era.  MTV Launched in August of 1981 – and with it came music videos. And what better way to compliment the music scene than having nice visuals, sexy women, and catchy tunes.  Madonna and Pat Benetar made their shots to super stardom. Thriller and Walk Like an Egyptian bring out cameos for bombshells.

We are once again brought together with the stars of the era via the big screen – but this time on the little screen.  Movies were a major motivator for the boyhood crushes on celebrities.  I don’t think we’ve seen as good of movies as what the 1980s produced.  We’ve got Star Wars Return of the Jedi featuring Slave Leia, National Lampoons Movies,  Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Risky Business, Caddy Shack, Weird Science, Porky’s,  and about a billion other movies with awesome sexy scenes thrown in there.   When we throw in the newly created Video Cassette, we have the ability to watch these lovely ladies anytime and in the comfort of your own home. Talk about a quick way to focus in on their assets.

And finally, we have an emerging porno video scene starting to take shape.  The VHS makes adult movie stars household names. You no longer have to watch home movies or go to an adult theatre.

The technology of the 1980s set a new wave of sexual icons into motion. Thankfully, this technology wasn’t quite there in the 1970s.

<<< 1970 s Pin-Up                                                1990s Pin-Up>>>>

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1970s – History of Pin-up

The 1970s was not a classy decade – at least not for the pin-up world. The envelope was pushed and stretched, and everything came out. The name of the game was going boldly where no mainstream publication had dared to do.

A look at the natural beauty and and freedom the 1970s offered. Photo by Chris Wooley

A look at the natural beauty and and freedom the 1970s offered. Photo by Chris Wooley

As an overall theme for this decade, it was all about one upping what the other guy did. We touched last decade on the increasing “pubic wars” between Playboy and Penthouse. It was in this decade that Playboy decided to up the game and show full frontal nudity.

Technically, the first sighting of any hair was in August of 1969, when Paula Kelly, one of the first African-American models for playboy showed some slight glimpses of hair during a shoot. As an interesting side note, more outrage came from showing pubic hair than a black model – with criticism from black support groups on having the first pubic hair be on shown on a black woman. But in 1970, Penthouse decided to show full frontal nudity. And with that Playboy featured in 1972 Marilyn Cole as the first centerfold to bare it all.

The magazine game went down hill from this point – with each magazine trying to outdo the shocking displays that the other one featured. This continued to build until 1974 when Hustler magazine started. We now see a clear split in the market as Hustler and Penthouse go towards a more graphic approach to photographing nudes – helping to define the genre of Hardcore Pornography. Meanwhile, Playboy turned around and began to focus on the softcore aspect of the magazine, with particular attention towards quality articles.

On a separate note, we see that race acceptance has also been developing. The first inclusion of an ethnic model in Playboy was in the mid-sixties. By the 1970s, we see more and more ethnicity in the pages, seeing sexuality embracing the growing social and political acceptance of the time.

Stylistically, we also see the complete opposite style of the 30s and 40s. Instead of seeing highly made up women in glamour settings – we see a raw sort of beauty. Unkempt hair, loose clothing, and a care free attitude helped define the underdone beauty of the era.

Enough with the magazines, another huge influence was hitting the media: posters. The 1970s were the time for the poster girls, and a few stars shined like never before. Perhaps the most well know was Farrah Fawcett. This woman’s claim to fame sprung up with her lustful red swimming suit poster, setting an all time high pin-up poster sales record of over 20,000,000. Likewise, Sports Illustrated model, Cheryl Tiegs, had a poster that sealed her fame forever in pop culture. The power of the teenage fantasy and need for pretty girls helped redefine the pin-up genre and brought it back to its roots of mass produced pictures of pretty girls. The posters also helped push the careers of many of the poster girls – like Fawcett into the popularity of TV shows. But more on that next decade.

 

<<< 1960s                                         1980s>>> 

 

 

SFW(ish) Version of the 1970s History of Pin-up

SFW(ish) Version of the 1970s History of Pin-up

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1960s – History of Pin-Up

The 1960s brought a few changes to the progressive 1950s photography style. Namely, the how much its OK to bare and the expressions that go with it. We have a time period of race and sexual freedom, openness and the pushing of social taboos. Drugs, music, and war filled the era. And Pin-Up photography was changing, too.

1960s Pin-Up styled image. Notice the natural enviornment and the interaction with of the model with the viewer. Photo by Chris Wooley

1960s Pin-Up styled image. Notice the natural enviornment and the interaction with of the model with the viewer. Photo by Chris Wooley

As the decades go on, society’s comfort with nudity also changes. We go back and forth on what we deem appropriate and moral. The 50s pushed past the conservative and innocent values of the war-era 40s. And continuing on that streak, we see that it is becoming publicly acceptable to once again bare more. The hot topic of the day was pubic hair. Previously, it was outrageous to even think about showing any hair down there – but the 60s spawned a freedom and liberation to those uptight rules. Up until this point, it was considered pornographic for a magazine to show even a glimpse of pubic hair. Amateur photography was full embracing it by this point – but the big leagues just couldn’t get into it and still be considered an art magazine. This changed at the very end of the 1960s when Playboy Magazine and Penthouse got into the “Pubic Wars” – a term coined by Hugh Heffner of Playboy – describing the back and forth battle between the two magazine to push the edges of photography and pornography. Each magazine would show just a little bit more than the previous magazine. This process traveled well into the 1970s.

The other key moment we see in this period was the need for authentic looks from the models. It was no longer good enough to just have a pretty girl on the page. She needed to be interacting with the viewer in the image. So a woman touching herself meant absolutely nothing without an appropriate expression. Likewise, Playboy once again led the way in this interaction. The centerfold model needed to be directly looking at the viewer, making eye contact like the Mona Lisa, by drawing the viewer in and interacting with them. This connection is a fad that continued on and helped make the 1960s a memorable period in the History of Pin-up.

 

<< 1950s Histoy of Pin-Up                                                        1970s History of Pin-Up >>>

 

 

 

1960s History of Pin-up by Chris Wooley Check out the blog for the uncensored version.

1960s History of Pin-up by Chris Wooley Check out the blog for the uncensored version.

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1950s – History of Pin-Up

The 1950s really pushed the boundaries, especially compared to the wholesome looks we saw during the war. We introduce Playboy magazine, and iconic legends like Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page. Political, social, and economic influences also help dictate the style. Let’s take a closer look.

1950s Camera Club style portrait of a Pin-Up Model

1950s Camera Club style portrait of a Pin-Up Model

Once of the biggest advancements in this time period was Playboy magazine. Prior to Hugh Heffner’s now gamechanging magazine, a classy men’s magazine didn’t exist. Sure, you could find magazine that had great articles, like Esquire – or magazines that featured naked women, known as “artists magazines” – but there didn’t exist a magazine for the classy gentleman. One that you could read for the quality articles, and enjoy the photographs of tastefully done nudes. So when Playboy came about, people noticed (and purchased) the new magazine. The star of the first issue was none other than Marilyn Monroe.

But Monroe’s story doesn’t just start with playboy. She had been an amateur model prior, modeling for a few “art”magazines, and some small promotional work. Fate had a huge role in her success. Well, more like a crappy engine. Her car broke down on her way to an appointment, and it happened to be right across the street from photographer Tom Kelly (Hollywood Photographer). Kelly went over to help, got her a cab and paid her fare. When Monroe went back to Kelly’s studio to say thank you, he offered her some basic modeling jobs, which she accepted. He also offered to pay her $50 to model for a calendar he was shooting. She declined. And then she needed the money, so she agreed to do it. The calendar they created is, featuring Monroe on red velvet, is probably the most notable calendar of all time. And yes, it really kickstarted her career. One of the images from this shoot was even the featured image in the first issue of Playboy.

And here come’s Bettie Page. She has a unique story (and an awesome Netflix documentary). To get an understanding of her status in the pin-up world, you need to understand some of the politics of the time period.

Politics played a huge role in what was acceptable at the time. Silly little things, like the Hays code and the US Postal Service meant that traditional nudity was just too taboo for the average American. Nudity was all fine and dandy in your own home, but trying to show it or send it anywhere else was just frowned upon. Ok, maybe a little bit more than frowned upon. It was downright restrictive. Want to use a mail order film developing company to get some naked pictures of your wife? Yeah, that’s not allowed. Or maybe order in a sexy European magazine? Nope, that gets confiscated, too. Granted, the codes have gotten a little bit more relaxed since they were introduced in the 1930s (one of the driving forces behind Esquire magazine dropping pin-ups); but they were still pretty extreme compared to what we are used to today. For example, originally, an uncovered breast was completely unacceptable. Then it was OK to show as long as there was no viable nipple (Instagram/Facebook anyone?), and then that was relaxed a bit further to allow a full breast to be shown (but pubic hair was still outrageous – and I’m not just talking about shaving). So some progress has been made, but it was still somewhat restrictive.

Money also played a pretty big role in determining what was appropriate, too. Magazines, Movies, and other entertainment were designed to make money. That means they need audiences and they need advertisers. Together, they equal money. And to keep them both happy, they need to be a little bit more on the conservative side of the nudity debate. So the people of the period may have wanted to see more than what was being published, but the producers kept it friendly as to keep their advertisers.

This opened up a huge niche for a few opportunistic models – and is where Bettie Page becomes legend. You see, there was still a need for these sexier type pictures – but you couldn’t go out a buy them anywhere. You couldn’t even order them. The only choice was to make them yourself. And the 35mm camera and camera clubs helped fill that need. The premise was simple – if you and a couple of buddies each put a couple of bucks together, you could hire a model. The model would pose, everyone would take pictures, and then you’d repeat the process. It worked out well for everyone involved. This produced a different type of work than we are used to seeing. Professional photographers with professional equipment didn’t follow these steps – so the quality, process,and final product were ultimately different. Technical aspects didn’t matter as much. Composition was basic. Poses were sometimes vulgar, alternative, or shocking. It was raw and lustful art.

The popularity of this style ultimately led to more laws and different interpretations as the style grew. For instance, Bettie kept pushing the boundaries of the time period and went into fetish/bondage modeling. This was really taboo for the time period. And as it became more popular, the laws got more and more strict. The circumvention to the laws was to take the nudity out of the equation. So if Bettie was going to be tied up, holding a whip, or otherwise doing fetish modeling, there could be no nudity. For some reason, this was an acceptable solution to everyone.

The combination of the classic “girl next door” Playboy pin-up and the alternative “Bettie” girl helped define the 1950s as one of the most iconic periods for the development of the pin-up.

<<<1940s                                                                  1960s>>> 

 

 

 

SFW(ish) Version of the 1950s Pin-Up by Chris Wooley

SFW(ish) Version of the 1950s Pin-Up by Chris Wooley