Monday, 16 January 2012

Pin Up Girl For a Day

You called? 

I've been so excited, and a bit nervous, to share this post...

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a huge fan of vintage. I love vintage clothes, cars and even magazines. But old pin up art holds a special place in my heart. I'm not sure where it started, but I know why it did: these retro pin up girls embody glamour - who wouldn't want to look like that?

Then I came across Alter Ego Portraits, a photography studio based in Northamptonshire who specialise in Gil Elvgren style pin up portraits. Their online albums are full of glamorous girls, dolled up 40s and 50s style, in classic pin up set-ups and poses. Their Facebook page became a favourite, as a constant stream of glammed-up girls would make me incredibly envious. Thankfully Alter Ego held a competition over the summer, and on my birthday I got a letter through the post telling me I was a runner up. I'd won a shoot and a print to take home, excited, was an understatement!

Left: Viven of Holloway dress, Right: My Gran's coat and a vintage Vogue!

I booked in with Martin Plant, who along with his wife, Karen, owns the studio. Although I visited for a vintage pin up shoot, they also do boudoir photography, and Karen also does weddings.

Before the day the main thing I had to do was get myself some vintage inspired underwear. A lot of my shoot was going to be clothed, in the costumes provided by Alter Ego, but there was also an optional underwear section. Although there are many shops who specialise in this sort of stuff, my budget didn't stretch to that, so I headed to M&S. One long-line bra and matching knicker set later and I was sorted. Of course stockings were a must, so I took a couple of trusty Charnos pairs with me.

I was also told I could take some of my own clothes if I had anything appropriate, so I took my Gran's fur coat, a couple of dresses, a pile'o shoes and some jewellery.

Picnic time in my dress - my favourite photo

On the day of my shoot I arrived at the studio, tucked away in the Northamptonshire countryside, just after 9am. Martin introduced me to the make-up artist Natalie, and after a drink in the calm studio, she got to work on my transformation. Something that had initially worried me, is that out of all the beautiful photos I'd seen, I couldn't remember one girl with short hair. They all had gorgeous tumbling waves, and victory rolls. My hair was given a pin-curl style wave at the front and the rest of it slicked down, which looked cute. My skin has been bad lately, but Natalie's brushes expertly hid away those flaws, while soft eye make-up and, obviously, bright red lips came out to play. I brought some false eyelashes with me, so Natalie applied these for me too.

While all this was going on Martin talked me through the Alter Ego experience, and how the day would run, and I choose my favourite poses and set ups for the shoot.

A quick glance at my 'Alter Ego' in the mirror and I barely recognised myself! I changed into my first outfit, a gorgeous Vivien of Holloway cherry-printed dress, and with retro tunes playing in the background, Martin set to work. Karen acted as assistant, arranging my skirt layers and helping me with poses - while backstage Martin's assistant Lola was already editing the photos being sent wirelessly from his camera, all very clever stuff!

 Ann Summer's underwear and white men's shirt

It was around this time that I took a peek in the back of Martin's camera and noticed something wasn't quite right, I had, what looked like a squinty eye! I realised I had a misbehaving false eyelash so had a quick sprint over to Natalie who put it back into position, and we carried on shooting.

I've got to be honest the next couple of hours were a bit of a blur, we went from one dress to the next, with Natalie touching up my make-up in between, two of my dresses came out to play, as did my Gran's coat. We used maybe fifteen different set ups from a picnic blanket to a dressing up box, from being on the phone, to being in a trunk. It was like a very fun game of dress up!

The last couple of set ups were squeezed in and before I knew it our time was up. Martin asked if I wanted to see the photos straight away (thanks to Lola's quick first edits this is a really handy option and great if you've travelled a long way for your session), but I decided to come back another day.

On the day I chose my photos I was almost more nervous than when I had them taken - but on seeing the ‘new me’ I was so surprised; it was like looking at a different person. We started off with around 70 photos and through a process of elimination (which was very tricky) whittled them down to the top seven you can see here, which I've kindly been allowed to share with you.

I think I’d like to go a back to do a couples shoot (if I could talk James into it) and I'd want to do it with long hair, as I love the big retro dos that weren’t possible with my short barnet!

Record player girl

I am really happy with the pictures, they are so different from the sort of photos I have ever had done before. Although I may not be chosen to join the ranks of their most beautiful pin up girls on Facebook, the shoot was a lot of fun, and I will treasure the pictures. They are the sort of thing I'll be able to look back on when I'm grey and say, 'hey, I looked alright in my day!'

I would like to thank the team for my shoot. Alter Ego Portraits vintage pin up shoots are available in several different packages, make great gifts, and are also a fab idea for hen parties. Visit to find out more.

Has anyone else ever had anything like this done? Would you?


  1. Thanks for the lovely story of your Alter Ego experience! So glad that you enjoyed your day and loved your photographs :) Yes you will of course be in our facebook galleries!

    Thanks again from everyone at Alter Ego.

    Love Martin xx

  2. You look absolutely stunning! Breathtaking pictures! :) xxx

  3. Anne-marie Payne17 January 2012 at 10:52

    Absolutely beautiful images - I am jealous!

  4. You look b-e-a-utiful! The vintage style shoot looks so fun xx

  5. Nice work here Alex and Martin, favourites of mine are the head shots and the picnic

  6. The shots look great. Great sets - very 1950s. The clothes and make up is great too. Nothing at all compared to how great you look though! Quite a special thing to keep for years to come

  7. You look absolutely stunning! All those photos are fantastic, how fabulous! :)

  8. This is so lovely!


  9. Stunning! I love the styling and your poses. I would LOVE to do a shoot like this!

  10. These photos look phenomenal; I adore the pin up style, so retro and gorgeous <3

  11. These pictures are simply amazing! You look gorgeous and really suit the 50's style. xx

  12. what a fun opportunity! you look amazing. i've never done anything like this...what a thrill it must be to dress in character like this.


  13. WOW. Firstly, how gorgeous do you look and so much courage to have your photo in your underwear (sexy I MUST add!)
    And secondly, this sounds like you had such a fantastic time it really does.
    My parents live in Northamptonshire, so not far from me! I love the choices of clothing you chose, and your hair looks awesome.xx

  14. amazing photos of you! retro suits you so much xx

  15. Girl you look hawt! This is a fabulous shoot and you look stunning :) xxx


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