After 3 years of running our 'Champagne & Corsets' Photography, we decided things were due for a re-VAMP! In January 2017 we at Maison Burlesque launched our new, decadent pin up photography parlour 'The Vamp Studio'.
Set in the surrounds of our Peacock & Flamingo room clients are provided with a full photography & styling experience with a Hair & Make up team, Stylist/Creative Director and of course, our Photographer!
Our resident photographer is Dominic Deacon of 42nd St Photography; a specialist in pin up, glamour and commercial portraiture.
Check out the clever .gif above that Dom made to show a condensed view of the steps he takes to create a fantasy edit image for The Vamp Studio!
We had a chat to Dom about his style and method of photography, as well as a bit more about The Vamp Studio and what you can expect in a photoshoot. Read on!
Tell us about your photography background. How long have you been taking photos?
Well, after writing and directing films for many years I grew tired of that and started looking for a new challenge. I've been shooting professionally for nearly 4 years now. I originally bought a camera to shoot promotional images for stage shows. We were putting on a lot of burlesque shows and making films and things at the time. Paying photographers constantly was getting pricey so I figured, hell, why not shoot my own images? Which I never wound up doing! The thing was I got so into photography there was no time to put on shows anymore. So, well, this is what I do now instead! My love for cinema definitely still influences my photography style...
Why is your business called 42nd Street Photography?
It's named after 42nd Street in New York. Back in the day 42nd Street was the prime spot for the Grindhouses where the burlesque dancers performed. In the 60s the strippers got driven out and the Grindhouses got taken over by cinemas showing exploitation and art cinema. I mostly shoot burlesque dancers and my inspirations mostly come from exploitation and art films. It was a bit too perfect not to use.
What is it that Vamp Studio does that is different to other photographers?
It's a whole experience. At Vamp Studio it's not just me. You get a whole team to yourself for 4 hours or more. We use the best vintage hair and make up people. Then Poppy Cherry styles you and helps you pose. Getting that one on one time in front of the camera with someone who has done a lot of pin up shoots before can make all the difference to settling in and getting the best shots.
And it's the creativity we bring to our photos. There's a lot of places that can take a great photo of you in front of a paper backdrop but not many that can turn you into a mermaid in the ocean or Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
What inspires your style of photography?
Like I mentioned earlier I love old films. I'm a nut, in particular, for 60/70s art/trash films and they constantly work their way into my photos. Even, sometimes, when I don’t really mean them to... Vintage pinup imagery is a big inspiration for us too. We keep a collection of Vargas and Elvgren books at the studio which have all the classic 50s pinup illustrations. Trying to recreate those is always heaps of fun.
What makes a good model?
Being a good pin up model is a lot like being a good actor. You've got to be larger than life and really sell a story to the camera. So there's a skill to that… but maybe the most important thing is being prepared to look very silly in front of the camera. It's by playing around and trying out stupid stuff that you get the best snaps. And we don’t use the ones where you wind up looking particularly foolish so what have you got to lose?!
How are the creative/fantasy edits made? And how long does it take?
Ages! Well a couple hours… give or take an hour or so. Each one is made from scratch and sometimes they get complicated.
First of all the model is shot in front of a plain white or blue backdrop. Then in photoshop the backdrop gets masked out- being very careful to keep all those little details like strands of hair and ruffles on dresses etc. Then the new background is built over a lot of layers. Mostly I use stock images that get cut out and combined while some things like smoke and lights I paint in myself. Sometimes I wind up with a hundred layers or more to make particularly complex images. I’m getting used to it but to begin with it really would turn my head inside out.
What have you got in the pipeline/ themes you are dying to tackle?
I've been wanting to do more noir stuff. You know, shady detectives, femme fatales, smoky nightclubs that sort of thing. I've also been wanting to do a bunch more Elvgren reproductions. It's just a fun theme. Fairy tale, magical stuff or things from kids books. I’m desperate to do some Halloween pin up… Christmas stuff… Umm... it's hard to narrow it down. In short, I’m pretty much up for anything.
What do you love about photography?
It’s a rare case where you’re making things that hopefully people are keeping forever. I’ve done a lot of creative stuff over the years but most of it was a bit disposable. I love the idea that maybe one day clients will be showing these pictures to their grandkids. “Look, see how hot granny was back in the day?” It’s a nice thought anyway...
Advice you would give someone prepping for a shoot?
Have a clear idea of what you’re after before you come in and try to communicate that idea to us as early as you can. If you can find some images to show us that are in the style that you're after that's great too. We won’t copy them as such but it really helps us to know what's in your head so we can create something new in that style. Definitely communicate to Poppy beforehand what you’re thinking for costume, your sizing etc. The more we know in advance the better we can serve you on the day and the better your shots will be.
For more information about The Vamp Studio at Maison Burlesque you can visit:
If you would like more information about the photography packages we offer or if you would like to book a photoshoot please email us HERE.