So what happens when you throw together 3 talented creatives – a quirky photographer, a makeup and hair diva, and a gorgeous model/burlesque dancer – all of Slavic descent into a photo studio for a session? You get one of my favourite themed shoots to date – pinup that touches upon traditional and classic Ukrainian imagery with a flipside of Soviet military might. All with an erotic twist of course!
Between the three of us, we may have been able to do what centuries of uprisings and revolutions have never been able to achieve – get two traditionally opposing cultures into a room together for a kinky playdate.
We started off with what I dubbed the Nyet, Nyet, Soviet set (I’m a child of the 80s). The costume that model and burlesque dancer Honey B. Hind of Toronto’s Skin Tight Outta Sight troupe brought in was stunning – all rich red satin, gold fringe, and (faux) fur trim with matching military hat. The makeup, by Larissa Palaszczuk of Blond Moxie Makeup was strong yet severe to match the theme and costume, emphasizing the eyes and lips. We let the gorgeous costume speak for itself.
For our second look – my favourite of the day – Larissa transformed Honey into a beautiful, demure maiden with the help of a traditional Ukrainian flower/ribbon wreath that she brought in for the shoot. I used to have one just like it from when I sang in a Ukrainian quarter as a kid (ah, the memories) but it’s long gone now. The makeup was heavy black around the eyes as we already had the post in mind – something in the style of Theda Bara the original vamp and star of Metropolis by Fritz Lang – and the heavier the makeup, the better. Honey posed beautifully and had me completely immersed in a 1910 mindset.
Our final set used the same look as the second so no makeup or costume changes were required, but we amped up the scenery a dozen notches, creating an opium den at the studio – complete with hookah! Knowing the final photos would be b&w, I wasn’t worried about the mix of draped fabrics, fur rugs, and backgrounds as all the magic would be happening in post.
Check out some of the final photos – with a look at the Before (original shot) and the After (post processing magic):