Burlesque Idol – the shows go on!

February 6th, 2013

The fourth season of the London based Burlesque Idol competition is now under way.  I have been privileged to have been a sponsor over the past seasons – the winner of each heat enjoys a free photoshoot at the studio.

As a consequence, there have been a succession of talented lovely ladies visiting the studio over the years, and it is wonderful to see how well-known many of them have become on the burlesque circuit…and not just here in the UK.  I thought it would be fun to post a retrospective gallery of some of the heat winners of the past years – see how many burlesque stars you recognise…

And the heat winners are, in no particular order…

 

Lolo Brow - makeup by Bella Noell

Trixee Sparkle - channelling HRH!

Trixee Sparkle - channelling HRH!

Scarlett Belle

Scarlett Belle

Tete Bang

Tete Bang

Violet Blaze

Violet Blaze - as Miss Jessica

Hotcake Kitty

Hotcake Kitty - a la Elvgren

Vivacity Bliss

Vivacity Bliss

Aurora Galore

Aurora Galore

Fanny Dent

Fanny Dent

Beau Burlington

Beau Burlington

Jolie Papillon

Jolie Papillon

Kitty Darling

Kitty Darling

Kitty Pearl

Kitty Pearl

Carmina de la Minx

Carmina de la Minx

Peggy de Lune

Peggy de Lune

Effie Vescent

Effie Vescent

Daisy Champagne

Daisy Champagne

Chantilly Lace

Chantilly Lace

Good luck to all the entrants of Burlesque Idol season four.  And if you have not won a heat and are still really wanting to shoot with me, send me an email, and as an entrant I will make you a very special offer!

 

Shooting in New York State

November 22nd, 2012
I am a people photographer, but take me out of my regular environment and I’m happy as Larry shooting everything and anything, whether it moves or not.

Shooting into the light

I have been spending a few days in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York before heading to the warmer climes of Florida.  The weather here is chilly but bright and we are travelling in a valley beside Cayuga Lake.    The sun is visible weakly behind the thick mist coming off the lake. It is ideal to be able to shoot directly into the sun to create some really atmospheric effects.
Foggy day at Cayuga Lake

Foggy day at Cayuga Lake

I love the receding planes of lesser contrast as the mist obscures the detail of the trees.  Shooting in this way turns a relatively nondescript scene into a hauntingly beautiful landscape, where you expect a werewolf to be lurking just out of frame!
I always shoot in RAW as it allows later experimentation on alternative colour balance decisions. In this instance, because you would be more likely to spot that lurking werewolf after dusk, I pulled the balance towards the blue end of the spectrum.

Shooting nothing!

During these trips I spend a lot of time shooting textures and scenes that I can later integrate with studio model shots – you are bound to see the above scene cropping up in my work sooner or later. It is always a source of amusement that on our vacations whilst my wife is busy shooting scenery I am shooting the sides of rusting dumpsters and grungy cracked walls! Other photographers hurry to my side to ensure they are not missing a photo opportunity, only to leave with a puzzled look when they find I am apparently shooting nothing!

Photographing into the light

Long shadows - Finger Lakes

Long shadows - Finger Lakes

The next morning presented a further chance to shoot into the light. When the sun is near the horizon, not only does the light take on a warmer orange hue, but the strength of the light is less, keeping the flare when shooting into the sun more manageable.
As I didn’t get out as early as I had intended,  there were elongated shadows which help make the image more dramatic, but the sun was also a little higher and stronger than I really wanted. I solved this by moving myself to frame the image with either branches or trunk blocking some of the sun’s rays.

Burlesque lives!

November 16th, 2012

Burlesque not only lives, it thrives.   Burlesque shows are sprouting around the UK, and of course further afield in Europe, Australia and America.  Aside from shows, the art of burlesque is also mainstream, being taught the length and breadth of the UK.  The courses are very popular, attracting girls from all walks of life, and all sizes – it is incredibly empowering for the girls, even if the goal is not to develop a stage act, but simply social, to meet other girls, and enjoy a little exercise and fun at the same time.

Retro Photostudio has photographed countless professional burlesque artists.  Yet not everyone with a feather boa who visits the studio is a professional burlesque artist.  The studio also photographs  an equal number of girls who have no intention of performing their own act, but merely wish to capture the fun and excitement that their hobby gives them.

Burlesque workshops

A number of burlesque workshops send their ‘graduates’ to the studio to enjoy a girly burlesque shoot day – after pampering by the professional make-up artist and hair stylist, they enjoy a few hours in the studio under expert direction to produce a series of photographs to  show off to friends and family.

Once bitten by the burlesque bug, some girls are keen to perform in front of an enthusiastic audience, and even compete to be able to measure their skills against others.  One of the best stepping stones for this, allowing girls to progress from keen amateur to fully-fledged performer is the annual Burlesque Idol Competition, which Retro Photostudio has been proud to be associated with as a sponsor since its launch three years ago.  The winner of each heat qualifies for a free shoot at the studio.

This year’s final takes place on 30th November at Madam Jojo’s.

The most recent finalist to visit the studio was Violet Blaze – a very enthusiastic young lady!

Violet Blaze - as Big Mama

Violet Blaze - as Big Mama

 

I asked her how she found her shoot…and she emailed me the following description of her experience…

Upon arrival at Retro Photo Studio… I was welcomed with a nice cup of tea… perfect way to start the day! I was impressed with the amount of props and costumes that were available ! 

Terry made me feel at ease instantly.. and straight away I felt at home with the camera and him. 

He is a fantastic photographer.. attention to detail.. angles… and always gets that foot turned just right.. or that stray hair out the way! He is not just a photographer.. but an artist. 

All the raw images looked FANTASTIC.. I found it so hard just to choose 25 from the hundreds of shots taken… but something is telling me I am going to have to purchase some more because I love them so much! 

When I received the retouched versions however.. I was AMAZED… I have always wanted to be captured in the true Mendoza style.. and he made me look like a real pin up star. 

I feel with these pictures… people will be able to see I am taking my burlesque career seriously.. they are so professionally done and have already helped in getting me gigs! It’s all about the image… 

I will definitely be going back for another shoot once I get my new act together. I look forward to working with Terry again.. he is simply fabulous. 

Violet Blaze xxx   

So if you love burlesque, and regardless of whether you’ve never been on a stage before, or are a full-time pro, feel free to contact the studio and I will be happy to discuss your own tailor-made photoshoot.

I love Photoshop, but…

November 6th, 2012

There is no question that Photoshop is an amazing tool.  It allows one to correct flaws in images, or to create artificial realities; in short if you can imagine it, you can create it.  I use Photoshop all the time, and have done so right back from version three, which was supplied in a great pile of floppy disks!

I have no problem with fixing minor flaws when finishing images of models, either for clothing designers or for their own portfolios.

But this is a tool that should be used with integrity.  Recently my wife received a catalogue from a make-up company.  Every image in the catalogue had been retouched, not just to correct flaws, but to create a whole new reality – smooth flawless skin with not a hint of wrinkle.  The text clearly suggested that users of such make-up products could expect their skin to appear the same as in the illustrations…a claim that I consider highly misleading.  Within a day or so, another household named brand catalogue arrived with make-up products illustrated in exactly the same manner.  Then today a leaflet popped through the door for a local company offering ‘permanent make-up’ and laser treatments to beautify skin.  To my eyes the illustrations were horrendous – the skin was smoothed so much that it looked like wax – devoid of any pore structure!  Eyes were painted to remove any trace of the normal capillaries – they looked like artificial eyes!

Photoshop – reality or deceit?

A young lady friend of my wife is not a Photoshop user – and is unaware of how the image has gone from being optimized into the realms of fantasy.  These representations are images for her to strive to achieve…and strive she has.  She has invested huge sums with plastic surgeons attempting to emulate these fantasy images.  Unsurprisingly, aside from some of the awful things that have gone wrong and had to be corrected, this unfortunate lady is still nowhere near her impossible ideal…and of course she never will be.

When dealing with selling facial treatments and make-up, just what has happened to morality?

 

 

 

Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!

October 31st, 2012
SINderella - is back...and looking for you...

SINderella - is back...and has her eye out for you...

Boo!

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Happy birthday Bella Morte!

October 29th, 2012

Bella Morte is a magazine specialising in ‘alternative pin-up’.  Under the skilled editorship of Sonja it has just reached its second birthday – well done to you Sonja!  I have been associated with the magazine almost from the start, and feel privileged to be one of their official photographers. I know there are interesting plans for the magazine for 2013, but for now here are some previews from the new issue.

Portia Victoria - fetish model

Portia Victoria - fetish model

Sophia Disgrace

Sophia Disgrace

Fern Samantha

Fern Samantha

Bettina Scarlett

Bettina Scarlett

Betty Banzai

Betty Banzai

Whiplash

Whiplash

The Emerald Isle – weekend break

October 28th, 2012
One of the many coves west of Tramore

One of the many coves west of Tramore

My wife and I needed a relaxing weekend getaway – the newly expanded London-Southend airport is a mere 10 minutes from home, so we decided on a quick hop to Waterford in Ireland, one of the recently introduced destinations. Unfortunately the taxi to the airport decided we should take the scenic route, taking us in a wide arc away from the airport before heading back; maybe his ticking meter was a factor!

London-Southend airport is very impressive; it is clean, friendly and efficient…and without the bustle and crowds of the major airports.   It was just a short flight and we were at Waterford airport collecting our hire car.  Our base for the weekend was a delightful B & B, Glenorney, where we were made very much ‘part of the family’ by Marie. Not only was it cosy and clean, but check the image at the end of the blog post to see sunrise from our bedroom window.

Ireland is famed for its scenery, so for the first couple of days we toured from deserted cove to deserted cove, exploring the Copper Coast, where copper mining used to take place. The landscape is rugged and beautiful, with craggy cliffs and wide sweeping bays, well worth a visit.

Tankardstown, a 19th Century copper mine in Bunmahon

Tankardstown, a 19th Century copper mine in Bunmahon

Tankardstown - working up a thirst!

Tankardstown - working up a thirst!

Just as I got out of the car to shoot the old Tankardstown copper mine on the brow of the hill, these guys rounded the bend.

A great place to chill out -   a warm welcome!

The weather was blustery and skies overcast (this is October after all!), but wherever we drove we were greeted by warm welcoming smiles and great hospitality.  When we strolled around the towns and villages, people would stop their cars to let us cross the road…a rather different experience to that encountered in say London!

 Crystal clear

Mention Waterford and everyone immediately associates the name with fine lead-crystal.  The highlight of our trip was our tour of the Waterford Crystal workshops – it was fascinating to watch the many years of skills in glass blowing, carving and decorating being demonstrated by these master craftsmen.

 

Waterford lead crystal - superb craftsmanship

Waterford lead crystal - superb craftsmanship

The factory is well designed, offering tourists a close view of each aspect of the process and our guide Sean, a former cutter at the factory, was a mine of fascinating information.

Checking the glass in the furnace

Checking the glass in the furnace

Out of the furnace, the glass is prepared for blowing

Out of the furnace, the glass is prepared for blowing

Blowing the bubble, which will become a bowl

Blowing the bubble, which will become a bowl

A wooden template, and a lot of skill, ensure the blowing will be symmetrical

A wooden template, and a lot of skill, ensure the blowing will be symmetrical

Using inked guidelines the cutter works to produce the precise design

Using inked guidelines the cutter works to produce the precise design

No room for the slightest error here

No room for the slightest error here

It takes thirty years to develop the skill to create such intricate art

It takes thirty years to develop the skill to create such intricate art

The etching work above takes a week to complete one single piece – this man is both artist and master craftsman – drawing the design by hand first.

Some of the etching tools - I just love 'pattern pictures'

Some of the etching tools - I just love 'pattern pictures'!

Finished work - this one is on a vase

Finished work - this one is on a vase

Horn gramophone - only eight inches high.  Amazing!

Horn gramophone - only eight inches high. Amazing!

Sunrise, as seen from our room in Tramore

Sunrise, as seen from our room in Tramore

So, if you are looking for an inexpensive relaxing weekend break amidst stunning scenery and welcoming people, I would heartily recommend Waterford!

Underwater shoot…

October 23rd, 2012

I’ve previously shared some of the covers I’ve shot for Vintage and Homemade Living.

I’ve also been responsible for shooting their fashion spreads, which has been good fun. For the latest issue editor Caroline set me a challenge; the feature was to showcase some wonderful retro costumes, based on vintage designs under the Esther Williams brand label.

Researching images of Esther Williams, apart from one or two where she is draped decoratively along the side of a swimming pool, the majority naturally feature her swimming…her starring role in a number of vintage movies.  So Caroline suggested we shoot an ‘underwater’ set.  So i sealed the studio and assembled my underwater housing and donned snorkel and flippers…

The sneak peek below, does not do justice to the end results.  All were shot in the studio and  composited later of course.  The images where the models are ‘diving’ were shot with the models standing on tiptoes – with their orientation changed later in post-production.  The feet and particularly the toes needed extra work as they were not ‘pointed’ in the right way for swimming.

If you have any interest in retro lifestyle I highly recommend you treat yourself to a copy of the magazine – which you can find at their website.

This month’s issue also has an interesting article on Ether Williams herself as well as a fascinating insight into the wartime codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park.

 

 

 

 

RVintage - Esther Wiliams

Vintage - Esther Wiliams

The above images feature Rayna Terror (cover image), Tilly Bachelor, and Rayna (with starfish)., and Frankie diving for the depths below.

 

Underwater shoot!

Underwater shoot!

 

 

Halloween and Striptease

October 18th, 2012

Halloween is virtually upon us, with ghosties, ghouls and other strange goings on.

American magazine Striptease is celebrating in (weird) style with a fine collection of far-from-mainstream pin-ups.  The new magazine features a number of Retro Photostudio photoshoots –  I am posting a selection of previews below.

Striptease - Rayna & Ailsing

Striptease - Rayna & Ailsing

Here’s Rayna Terror (R) and Aisling Grace, clad in matching Cathouse outfits.

Striptease - Cherrie Mae

Striptease - Cherrie Mae

Striptease Cherrie Mae - in Cathouse latex

Striptease Cherrie Mae - in Cathouse latex

Striptease - Cherrie Mae in latex by Cathouse

Striptease - Cherrie Mae in latex by Cathouse

Cherrie Mae, always a delight to work with, is a regular to my blog.  All outfits in this selection are by Cathouse Clothing, a UK based company producing a great selection of unusual styles.

Striptease - Mamzelle Maz - Marie Antoinette, in latex!

Striptease - Mamzelle Maz - Marie Antoinette, in latex!

Mamzelle Maz outfit is by Miss Katie, Lady Lucie & Ooh La Latex – her Marie Antoinette make-up created by Jasmine Wratislaw.

Wig by Kezia Argue Designs

Striptease Chipfox in Rubber Monkey latex

Striptease - Chip Fox in Rubber Monkey latex

Chip is wearing a Rubber Monkey outfit.

Striptease -  Marnie Scarlet going shopping

Striptease - Marnie Scarlet going shopping

Striptease- Marnie, thinking outside the box!

Striptease- Marnie, thinking outside the box!

Those acquainted with the alternative fetish scene will know the talented Marnie Scarlet.  Her performances are startling, sometimes shocking but always riveting…and as far from mainstream burlesque as it is possible to get!  Aside from her amazing performances, she is an incredible latex designer too – she created this and all her other latex outfits. Indeed, if you are a fan of Libidex Latex clothing you will have certainly  come across her designs.

The Striptease Halloween edition is shipping now.

 

Belated update – recent publications

September 29th, 2012

I was doing so well with this blog, and then a slew of photography projects landed in my lap all at once,  leaving me no time to attend to the blog.

In the past week I’ve photographed a bevy of beautiful ladies who belong to a burlesque school…at the end of each term the graduate feather boa twirlers and fan dancers have the opportunity to come to the studio and shoot a variety of images of their choosing.  It was a great day with all sorts of styles ranging from the typical burlesque outfits and poses, through to 1920 styled nudity (all very innocent), to FHM glamour and much much more.  With seven ladies, it kept my make-up artist and hair stylist incredibly busy, and the participants were delighted with the results – some are being produced as presents for spouses and partners so I can’t post any here.

I’ve also been on location shooting a group of powerful models, all with very long orange arms…but these were demolition machines for a commercial brochure!

Instead, here’s a small sampling my work on or in recent publications.

Tattoo Collection

The ever delightful Cherrie Mae features on Tattoo Collection

The Tattoo Collection is available online or in your local magazine rack

Betsy Rose on Vintage Life cover

Miss Betsy Rose on Vintage Life cover

Vintage Life is at W H Smith or visit their website. Miss Betsy Rose is a wonderfully accomplished burlesque artist and model – check out her website.

Atomic Bombshells

Atomic Bombshells - Acid Doll feature

At the beginning of the year I enjoyed a very productive shoot in Brighton – above is the gorgeous Acid Doll, featured in issue 3 of Atomic Bombshells. This magazine also showcases Kristelle O’Chocolat  (below) – I guarantee you will be seeing more from this stylish pin-up model!

 

 Kristelle O'Chocolat in Atomic Bombshells

Kristelle O'Chocolat in Atomic Bombshells

 

Rachel Goodwin on Tattoo Revolution Magazine

Rachel Goodwin on Tattoo Revolution Magazine

The above is newlywed Rachel, in her wedding gown (really!). Tattoo Revolution Magazine can be found in your local newsagent.

SINderella in Vintage Life

SINderella in Vintage Life

The always cute SINderella above, in Vintage Life, and again below in latex from Striptease Magazine

SINderella again - in Bella Morte Magazine

SINderella again - in Bella Morte Magazine

Vintage Life

Vintage Life - Beau Burlington featured here

Jacqui Gladden, modeling one of her own vintage outfits

Jacqui Gladden, modeling one of her own vintage outfits

Tanya Bratz on Tattoo Revolution Magazine

Tanya Bratz on Tattoo Revolution Magazine

Tattoo Revolution Magazine , once again.

Vintage & Homemade living - Tilley

Vintage & Homemade living - Tilly Batchelor

Collectif Autumn/Winter 2012

Collectif Autumn/Winter 2012 - Millie Dollar

Bella Morte - Taboo edition - Juliette October

Bella Morte - Taboo edition - Juliette October

Skin Shots - Cherrie Mae

Skin Shots - Cherrie Mae

Vintage & Homemade Living

Vintage & Homemade Living

Vintage & Homemade Living edition 3

Vintage & Homemade Living edition 3 - cover model Daisy

The image below features Daisy and Miss Lula Mae, the latter whom I have had the privilege of photographing in Brighton at the start of the year. The image also featured several unknown holidaymakers whom I had to paint out!.

Fashion feature in Vintage & Homemade Living

Fashion feature in Vintage & Homemade Living

Vintage & Homemade Living is a cracking magazine if you are into the retro lifestyle. A huge amount of care has gone into giving the magazine a distinctive retro feel…I am confident it is destined for great success.  I have been involved with a number of the fashion features, and I can’t wait to share the results of the most recent shoot which combines some glorious fashion with ‘Mendoza’ post production for a grand fantasy spread – once the magazine is on the bookstands I will share more here.

Playful Promises 'panties in a can'

Playful Promises 'panties in a can'

Playful Promises design and produce a range of beautiful, elegant and saucy lingerie. The above is one example from their ‘panties in a can’ range – featuring my photography and pin-up retouching…in this case the beautiful Miss Banbury Cross

Cherrie Mae on Tattoo Revolution no 19

Cherrie Mae on Tattoo Revolution no 19

To round up this collection, here’s the newest magazine, with issue 1 just out, is Tease and Cake - a stylish UK offering, to which I wish much success. The image below is a recreation of a forties airbrush image.  The mirror really was there…which took quite some setting up to shoot ruby without showing too much of the background studio props!

Ruby Woo - in Teas and Cake Magazine

Ruby Woo - in Teas and Cake Magazine