My First Pinup Shoot

It all started with an email from Vivienne VaVoom, my burlesque instructor whom I had taken classes with the previous year. She announced that a pinup photographer was coming to Denver, and would be offering a class on pinup styling, which would include a pinup photoshoot. I signed up as soon as I could! The class was held at the vintage style bar Beauty Bar (unfortunately now closed), which featured glittered walls, 1950s furniture, and lots of bright colors.

The photographer was Bettina May, and she also happens to be a pinup model and burlesque dancer. Being photographed in my underwear by a woman who has spent time on both sides of the camera made me feel much more comfortable.

On the day of the shoot, Bettina led the class through a pinup makeup tutorial, and then demonstrated how she brushed out and styled her hair after removing her curlers. After I did my makeup, and had my hair styled by one of Bettina’s assistants, it was time to change into my pinup outfit. I had selected a balconette bra, lace boyshorts, the one garter belt I owned, stockings, my first corset, and the highest heels I owned. Nothing quite matched, but they were at least all shades of black, so I went with it.

When I nervously exited the dressing room in full pinup regalia, I saw that the other women were all fully clothed in vintage style dresses. I was the only one stripped down to my skivvies! But Bettina loved it, told me I looked great, and I felt much better.

There was a magic to that first shoot that I’ve never been able to quite recreate. I had modeled for friends before for photography projects in school, but this was different. This was a pinup shoot. I had studied pinup photos and worshipped at the altar of Dita Von Teese for years, but this time I was in front of the camera.

I still absolutely love the photos from that very first shoot. I think of Bettina as my pinup mentor, she was so sweet and encouraging, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. I was so excited when she featured me on her website as Pinup of the Month in April 2016.

The next time she came to Denver I shot with her again. We shot in Vivienne VaVoom’s gorgeous living room, I love her teal walls! Check out my favorite photos from both shoots below, and be sure to visit Bettina and Vivienne’s websites! Vivienne performs all over Denver, and Bettina still tours with her pinup class, while also performing her burlesque acts all over the world.

Photographer: Bettina May
Makeup: Miss Violet June
Location: Beauty Bar Denver

Photographer: Bettina May
Makeup: Miss Violet June
Lingerie: Dita Von Teese
Location: Vivienne VaVoom’s fabulous home

Coming next week: thoughts on “signature style,” and how I discovered pinup fashion!

-Violet