Ask A Pin-Up Model : How do I get started?

I have always wanted to do 1940’s style modeling as I am a passionate fan of the era of 1912-1945. Do you know how I could get into this sort of modeling as I really don’t know how other than signing up to agencies? Thank you for your help!


Ella, UK


My name is Liz. I have been fascinated with the 50’s, pin-ups, and just the whole era for a long time. I do my hair pin-up style and love to wear red lipstick. I get comments all the time from people saying I look like a pin-up model, or that I should do car shows. I feel like this is something I want to be involved with for a long time but I feel like I’m outside of this secret club and don’t know how to get in. Should I just start taking photos and build up a portfolio? How do the pin-curl magazine cover models get started with you guys? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you for your time!

Liz , Houston

Courtney Crave by High Art Studio
Courtney Crave by High Art Studio

Hi Ella and Liz,

Since you both have similar questions about a very popular topic that I am asked about frequently; “How do I become a pin-up model?”. I’m going to address this response to both of you.  Although it may seem like the world of pin-up modeling is a secret club it’s really quite open to anyone.  You hear lots of people talk about determination and passion getting you a long way towards your goals and as cliché as it sounds, it really is true.  Also, now is the time to become involved in pin-up culture.  We are currently seeing a huge resurgence in the pin-up lifestyle, thus making it more accessible to you.  More than likely, there are multiple pin-up photographers in your area.  Here are a few basic steps you can take towards becoming a pin-up model.

I recommend you learn how to do classic 40’s and 50’s hair and makeup.  Hair and makeup stylists may not always be available or affordable and knowing how to do this yourself is a huge feather in your cap, especially when you are just starting out.  Also study some of your favorite models or pin-up artists for poses and facial expressions.  Practice these in the mirror!  Good photographers will be able to coach you into the poses but if you already know what you’re doing you’ll seem much more professional and your shoot will have more of a natural and fun flow.  Purchase a few staple pin-up clothing items.  You can get great stuff from Pin-up Girl Clothing and Girdlebound and even Ebay.  A good pin-up swimsuit, dress, underbust corset, and lingerie set with stockings can last you a long time.

Alright, so you’ve painted on your red pin-up pout, coifed you hair into victory rolls, and cinched up your corset over your Capri skinny jeans.  If you know any friends who are photographers or are aware of any local photographers contact them about doing some shoots to build your portfolio.  It’s not a bad thing to pay photographers for quality shots that you can use for your portfolio.  Professional quality photos will also help grease the way to working with lots of other photographers.  The absolute best way to book shoots with photographers is to show up on time and not flake or cancel.  A lot of really successful models got to where they are by showing up for their shoots.  There are lots of different modeling portfolio sites that can put you in touch with photographers, designers, and hair and makeup artists in your area such as Model Mayhem and One Model Place.  PinUpLifestyles.com is also a great site for meeting people specifically in the pin-up culture and finding shows and events.  You can set up a free account with these sites and begin finding people to connect with.  Getting publications is all about who you shoot with.  Check out the photographers who shoot for your favorite pin-up magazines and book shoots with them.  While you’re at it… it may not hurt to think of a cute pin-up name to start marketing yourself as.  Just make sure when picking out a name that you’re not inadvertently using someone else’s name.  If you’re blessed with an awesome sounding legal name you may want to keep that.  Believe me, a whole book could be written on picking an alias alone.

Once you’ve started building a portfolio and networking with other pin-up enthusiasts you can start making yourself seen around the scene.  Find out when burlesque performances and car shows are happening in your town and go!  Introduce yourself to people, pose for pictures, and have fun.  If you take yourself seriously others will follow suit.  Contact promoters and ask how you can get involved.  You may get some “no’s” in the beginning but if you are tenacious, enthusiastic, and professional those will quickly turn into “yes”.

Have a question for our Ask a Model or Ask a Performer Section?  Send them to editor@pincurlmag.com and you may be featured next!

%d bloggers like this: