Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pin-Up Style Photography crosses Generational Gaps

If someone says pin-up style photography, it is not uncommon for black and white images to fill the mind's eye. These images feature classic movie actresses in striking poses. Pin-up style photography offered American soldiers a sweetheart to talk to, dream of and reason to survive. The most famous of these pin-up style photography images appeared in 1941.

Betty Grable occupies the position of having been the first woman in Hollywood to be a box-office draw all by herself. Yet it wasn't just her talent that appealed, but her innocence and sensuality that reached out of silver screens and black and white photos. Her debut in pin-up style photography came in 1941 when the shapely image of her appeared, looking over one shoulder dressed in a silver bathing suit and heels.

This pin-up style photography image became a pop cultural icon for the World War II generation. The lady's great gams, her soft smile and her teasing gaze helped more than one GI survive the terrible depression and uncertainty of fighting a war so far from home. While there are numerous actresses in the 1940s who posed for similar pin-ups, Grable's image endures and remains recognizable even three or four generations later, whether they know the actresses name or not.

After the war, pin-up style photography continued featuring famous and non-famous personalities. By the 1980s, teen magazines offered pull-out posters in the tradition of pin-up style photography that allowed pre-teens and teens to decorate their rooms with images of their heroes, crushes, stars and icons.

While it is likely that a pin-up of Shaun Cassidy in the 70s, Duran Duran in the 80s and Teri Hatcher in the 90s have a completely different impact on their audiences as Grable did in the 40s, they share a common theme. They are the images that their audiences want to see. Pin-up style photography helped GIs combat the loneliness of war and pin-ups in the 70s, 80s and 90s helped teenagers look outside themselves. Despite the generational and emotional gaps, the common denominator is finding comfort, solace, inspiration and perhaps even hope in an image made possible by pin-up style photography. Grable's image will endure because she was one of the first to impact a nation, but with the ever-growing evolution of images in the world, she will not be the last.