Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Burlesque lives!

Friday, 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.

The Great British Tattoo Show

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Yesterday I spent an enjoyable day at the Great British Tattoo Show at Olympia, put on by Skin Deep group of publications.

Alongside a host of great tattoo artists, there were stalls aplenty featuring alternative clothing, jewellery and lingerie, so even if your primary reason for attending was not to add another design to your skin, there were plenty of high quality diversions and entertainment to occupy you.  Rather than boring you with a ‘what I did today’ account,  here’s a little pictorial impression of the day.

Graffiti Life

Graffiti Life - for when a body is just not a big enough canvas!

The Graffiti Life team were working away for the entire time I was there, creating an amazing and massive mural…it did make me wonder what would become of the work of art once the weekend drew to a close.

Box Jump

Box Jump - high flying BMX bikes

These guys were shooting up ramps and “high jumping” over a beam which must have been ten feet or more above the ramp.

New ink

One over over 120 tattoo artists, hard at work


Fashion shows

Fashion show with Spirit Models

There were regular fashion shows thoughout the day, featuring everything from streetwear to lingerie, modelled by  the amazing models from Spirit Models.

Beatrix Von Bourbon

Beatrix Von Bourbon - seductive burlesque diva

Beatrix Von Bourbon started her act with some great comic ideas, then really used her body and the stage to great effect.

I need a tattoo please...

Deciding where the next tattoo should go

Body Painting

Body painting with Retro Beauty

Charlotte Docker of Retro Beauty concentrates as she carefully applies body paint…by the end of this work the model was clad in seamed stockings – all painted on!

Compere Paul Sweeney

Compere Paul Sweeney

No, not Travolta…but Paul did have the crowd laughing as he linked between one show and the next. He instructed the audience in Mexican waving before moving on to Mexican clapping…one funny guy.

Lingerie with Spirit

Lingerie with Spirit

The lingerie show - grand finale

The lingerie show - grand finale

Millie Dollar

The sensational Millie Dollar

Millie had a sensational routine, and boy could she shimmy!  I have to say that both burlesque acts were classy and superb, and the personality of each girl really came across.

Engineers of Desire

Engineers of Desire - fashion show finale

Steempunk, whips, fire…Engineers of Desire had it all (including, I noticed, a guy standing beside the stage with Fire, Health and Safety emblazoned on his back!)

Engineers of Desire

Engineers of Desire - can you smell something burning?

Engineers of Desire

Engineers of Desire - yep, definitely can smell burning!

 More pictures…

I have put together a pdf proof booklet with around 150 images.  (Note this is a 16Mb file so  it will take time to download!)

If you find any images you would like for use on Facebook or your own website, then please email me the image numbers on and I will be happy to email you the web-files.  All I ask for free use is that you post the image/s with a credit to me and linked to


Glamour of the Gods – Hollywood Portraits

Monday, October 17th, 2011

The National Portrait Gallery in London has a fascinating exhibition, showcasing the work of the Hollywood publicity stills photographers from the twenties to the sixties, the golden age of the silver screen.

I was immediately struck by the quality of the images, which were of course impeccable, but also by some of the technical aspects – the images all share a silky smoothness of tone, with no brilliant whites nor jet blacks…and many of the images were a little soft focus. This was evidently intended, for these images were shot on 10″ x12″ negatives. The reason for the size of negative was to facilitate manual retouching in a pre-Photoshop era.

In one cabinet a retouched negative was on show, showing the deft paint strokes needed to ‘gild the lily’.

Some techniques are timeless – the use of ‘harder’ light sources with correspondingly harder shadows when shooting male stars for example. I also noticed that in a few instances the photographer had used a high main light with the men – so the brow cast a deep shadow in the eye socket, emphasising menace and mystery.

Amongst the wondrous photos, in the main collected via original negatives, by John Kobal, were a few telling ‘behind the scenes’ images. Four or more cinema lights were being used to light the subject, who was surrounded by a team of make-up artist, hair stylist, photographer, assistant – all dwarfed by the enormous large format bellows camera on its pedestal. The main advantage of using continuous light sources is that the final result of lighting placement can be accurately predicted – the downside would have been the enormous heat they generate!

For a photographer It really useful studying images such as these, working out the placement of the lights. I can’t wait to get back in the studio to recreate some of these lighting set-ups!

This exhibition is nearing the end of its run, but if you do get the chance, you will find it is well worth a visit.

Happy 18th Clare!

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

One year ago Clare’s parents treated her to a shoot at the studio as a birthday gift.  She turned out to be a real fan of the pin-up retro style, and had a great time posing with all the vintage props.

A few day’s ago Clare’s dad wanted to surprise her for her eighteenth – so with our assistance had a cake made with one of the portrait shots from our session…

Sailor Clare!


The studio has appeared on plenty of covers, but never in marzipan on a cake!

Happy eighteenth Clare!

What to buy for Christmas?

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Christmas is just around the corner and once again it is time to rack your brains – what to get for the special someone in your life? Why not get a gift voucher for a retro photo shoot?

Unique Christmas Gift of a retro photoshoot

Rayna Terror prepares for Christmas

Each and every shoot is a memorable experience, great fun, and a lovely boost to the ego – and the best part is that you will keep your memory of the day with gorgeous photographs.

You do not need to dress like Rayna Terror above! When creating your own special scenarios, wear whatever you feel comfortable with  –  the results will always be strictly for your eyes only (unless you choose to post them on your Facebook page of course!)

So ladies – surprise your man with some truly special pictures for his eyes only!  Or book in for a couples shoot as a special wedding anniversary present – our work is always tasteful and stylish. The studio is one of the preferred photographers of the prestigious Retro Lovely Magazine and you can see our work on the covers of a number of magazines each month

Studio shoot gift vouchers start at £50, and are available in increments of £50.   For only £150 you get a studio shoot, with full direction, a password protected gallery of 150 -200 shots, so you can choose your five best images to have ‘airbrush retouched’ in the studio’s unique style; these are supplied as high resolution files, as well as web versions suitable for emailing or posting online if you wish.

Photo studio shoot gift vouchers make wonderful gifts for birthdays and hen parties too.

Vintage Vogue October 2011

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Vintage Vogue, the fashion fair in Brentwood took place on Sunday. Around 700 people visited on what was a very hot and sticky day.

Once again I provided the mobile photo booth. It is always a little nerve-wracking setting up – creating the studio space and setting the lighting is straightforward…it is the picture file handling that proves “interesting”: my camera connects to a laptop via USB, and the files are download in real time to display/edit. From there the images are sent to my dye-sublimation printer. It is the software link to the printer that provides all the excitement and tension…will it work or not!

This time, all worked flawlessly, and by official opening time the printer was online… the results  superb – bright vibrant colours, and the prints, unlike inkjet prints, will not fade.

Retro Photostudio stand at Vintage Vogue
Retro Photostudio stand at Vintage Vogue

The event has its own character – a host of quality vintage clothing and accessory sellers, forties DJ and a ‘Lyons Corner House’ style of tea rooms.  As previously, one of the most popular stands was Hair Raid Shelter where Gill & her team were creating the most amazing forties and fifties hairstyles…each in a phenomenally short space of time, and each style unique.

Gill of Hair Raid Shelter

Gill works her magic

The day went very quickly with a steady demand for both vintage style portraits and regular family groups. Even the DJ Enji Benji took a moment from spinning his platters to visit the studio for a publicity shot.

Enjy Benjy

Miss Envy Greene, who is a regular at the studio, dropped by to say hello…I had to get a shot of her standing beside the banner images featuring her previous studio vintage shoots.

Miss Envy Greene

Miss Envy Greene

Hen parties, birthdays & other celebrations

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The studio offers a variety of packages for hen parties, birthday parties, and burlesque groups.  Hen party retro photo shoots are amazing fun, and you will remember and relive for many years to come, treasuring the beautiful photos.  The studio does book at least three months ahead for these events, and each is specifically tailored to what your requests. Do visit  the main Retro Photostudio site and get in touch through the contact page.

Hen Party photo shoot experience

Hen party at Retro Photostudio

Hen Parties

A typical hen party will consist of the girls arriving for a welcome drink, whilst they discuss how they would like to be ‘transformed’ by the skilled professional make-up artists  and hair stylists. They then enjoy a pampered session of makeover and hair styling – most girls select the vintage makeover!   As each girl is ready they are given a tour of the studio and we discuss the type of images they would like to create.  It is natural to feel a little apprehensive if you have not been in a studio before, but that disappears within moments.  You are guaranteed to feel very relaxed and have a great time – so many girls have gone on to book further sessions, explaining what a boost it is to their ego, and how wonderful it will be to have such amazing photos to show their family.

Have a browse through the main site – you too can be one of those ‘stars of the silver screen’

What sort of clothing?

What you wear for the shoot is entirely up to you…you may want the informal look, the ‘dress to impress’, boudoir, a burlesque theme, or a fifties pin-up.  There is generally the opportunity to go for three different looks in a shoot, so you could opt for a forties Hollywood, fifties swimsuit pin-up and modern casual.  I am very happy to discuss ideas in advance so you bring the clothing and accessories you need to create a set of stunning images.

Although the studio does have a wardrobe of clothing, hats, shoes and accessories too, there is no guarantee that items will fit, so I do advise you to bring several outfits with you.

For hen parties each girl is shot individually…without the others looking on!  This makes it easier to relax in front of the camera.  When all the girls’ make-up is complete we finish with some group shots…always time for a great deal of hilarity!

After the shoot

A photo-shoot produces a lot of images – usually several hundred or more!  Picking the photos you like is part of the experience, and I feel this is something that should not be rushed.  Rather than having the pressure to select images at the time of the shoot, a password-protected gallery is posted on-line, for your eyes only; this is usually later the same day.  You can then take your time picking your favourite images.

Gift Vouchers for Birthday or Anniversary Presents

If your friend or loved one is celebrating a birthday or anniversary, our photo shoot makes for an unique and memorable present. We offer gift vouchers for all photoshoot packages – either to cover a complete package or to be used towards one.

A Vintage Photo Shoot makes a wonderful gift for someone in your office, your wife or girlfriend (not both!).  It is entirely the choice of the lucky recipient as to the style of shoot they wish to indulge themselves. Vouchers start at £25  – please ask for more details.