Glamour Photography History

Glamour photography refers to the type of photography that highlights and eroticizes the model rather than any other feature of the shot, such as the environment or a product. However, although glamour shots are generally done for the sake of art itself, many features of this style of photography are also used when advertising.

As social and moral interests have changed over time, so too has the emphasis of glamour photography. For example, during the 1940s when glamour photography first became popular, glamour photography displayed the figure and stature of the woman as an icon. Many U.S. soldiers abroad carried these war-era glamour shots in their pockets as they went into battle.

Over time, as clothing became skimpier, so too did the notion of what was sexy. While glamour photography of the 1960s tended to feature models in teeny bikinis, those of the 1980s often featured partially naked models.

Decades later, in our modern age, the models of glamour photography may be fully dressed, scantily clad or even nude. No matter what glamour models wear, the key to defining a photo as glamour photography is the sense of eroticism and seduction that lures and entices the viewer”s gaze.

Glamour Photography is Not Pornographic

Although glamour photography does focus on a subject”s sensuality, the genre is not meant to be pornographic. While glamour shots may have nude subjects, they also create an allure by including other features, such as:

  • camera angles that highlight certain features of the model
  • light and shadows on various parts of the body
  • the look on the model”s face
  • slits in clothing
  • sheer fabric.

Keep in mind that, unlike pornography, nudity is not a requirement of the genre. Any outfit, ranging from a business suit to a swimsuit, can be made to look glamorous, sexy and seductive.

Why Glamour Photography?

Glamour photography engages the viewer in a way that other types of photography don”t because of the factor of seduction. Unlike fashion photography that typically features models looking in another direction or facing away from the camera to shift the focus to the clothing, glamour photography captures models looking straight at the camera to catch the viewer”s eye.

As a result, many advertisers seek to emulate the style of glamour photography to engage their viewers and sell a product. While glamour photography is generally done for the sake of art, many of the techniques associated with it have become stand parts of advertising photography.

Posing for Glamour Shots

Models posing for glamour shots generally make eye contact with the camera, featuring expressions that entice the viewer in some way. Interestingly enough, just as styles of what is “sexy” have changed over the years, so too have the typical expressions on models” faces.

Traditionally, early pinups would have a surprised look on their faces with a hand over their opened mouths, as if they were playfully shocked at being discovered in a sexy pose.

More modern looks for models posing for glamour shots tend to be sultry, with close mouths and more piercing, glaring looks in their eyes. These looks suggest that model knows she is sexy and is challenging the viewer with her sexuality, a change in expression that empowers the woman (reflecting the corresponding growth in social empowerment that has taken place over these decades).

The Cheesecake or Beefcake Picture

Although outdated in modern times, cheesecake pictures refer to realistic drawings and paintings of provocatively clad attractive women (or men in “beefcake” pictures). This type of glamour photography was mostly used in calendars, postcards and magazines.

Preparing for a Glamour Photography Shoot

If you are going to be a model posing for a glamour shoot, take some time to prepare beforehand. Decide not only what you are willing to do (and not do), but also how you would like the photographer to portray you. Some questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Do I want to appear more playful, sultry or innocent?
  • How much nudity am I comfortable with?
  • What poses am I comfortable with?
  • What theme (or themes) do I want to portray?

The next step is to talk to an experienced photographer with whom you feel comfortable. Express your expectations for the shoot and listen to their input, as they can likely give you tips for how to fully enhance and express your concepts.

Once you arrive at the studio, relax and have fun while taking the photographer”s direction, as his only goal is to make the glamour shot, and you, look as best as possible!

Have fun with the experience, and don”t hold back.


and Glamour Photography

For many years, using glamour photography in advertising or in magazines was not only controversial but, at times, even illegal. However, the launch of Playboy in 1953 seriously changed the concept of glamour photography. By glamorizing nudity and targeting the everyday consumer, Playboy effectively brought glamour photography into the modern age.