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Nicole of The Hourglass

Nicole of the Hourglass

This is the first in what we hope will be a series of interviews with photographers whose work with Creativity Backgrounds has caught our eye. This time it's with Nicole of The Hourglass™ .

Nicole uses a lot of colour in her shoots, including loads of our Creativity Backgrounds, and we were intrigued to find out a little more about her, her studio practice, and how she developed her distinctive style of retro glamour and burlesque photography.

1. We love your work! Have you always been shooting Pin-up and Burlesque?

Thank you very much.

No, I haven't actually. I started playing with my first proper SLR camera when I was 16, back then it was of course film. I photographed everything I could think of, but quickly found that I had to be more selective as the films and development did cost money.

I found that I mainly like to photograph people and I started combining it with my love for playing with make-up.

Later in life when I was working as a hair stylist and make-up artist, I wanted to capture my own work properly in professional looking pictures. I went on a course for photography and also spend lots of days 'abusing' friends and family as test objects, experimenting with make-up as much as lights and angles.

2. What got you into it?

I have a long term passion for retro fashion and style and sometime in late 2005 or early 2006, I was persuaded to stand in front of the camera in all my retro finest as a good old fashioned pin-up, just for fun. When I got the results I was so surprised at what I saw, surely that pretty girl wasn't me! I was always under the impression that I wasn't a main stream beauty and certainly didn't fit into the physical shape of a model, but the pictures told a slightly different story and it made a big difference to my self image.

I suddenly thought that if these pictures had such an effect on me, maybe it would work for other women as well.

Most girls I have ever spoken to were quite quick to tell me what was wrong with them. Legs too short, bum too big, boobs too small...you name it, it was there.

So I wanted to show them that in the right light, they look amazing and beautiful just as they are.

I chose pin-up instead of 'normal' make overs, because it gives any woman a platform to be a bit sexy without showing too much, a bit naughty, but still nice. It is a very feminine style, flatters a huge variety of shapes and sizes and can make you feel so immensely glamorous.

On top of it, I love the style myself and have done for a long time. I know how to do the hair and make-up that goes with it, so don't have to rely on hiring stylists in and at the time I started officially with The Hourglass® in October 2006, there was pretty much no other photo studio out there offering these kind of shoots.

 3. You use a lot of colour in your photography, especially the backgrounds, why is that? What do you feel it adds to the images?

I can't imagine my pin-up photography without adding lots of different coloured backgrounds. The whole feel of pin-up should be colourful. The colours define the mood of the picture at least as much as the lighting does, if not more. At the moment I have 12 different coloured backdrops (but still expanding) I work with and they all get used pretty equally.

Sometimes it's the contrast that works incredibly well, like a chroma blue background combined with a white outfit or a crimson background and a black outfit, sometimes complimentary colours work very well together, like sky blue with a navy blue dress or royal purple with lavender clothes and sometimes I like to be surprised by colour combinations that work in individual cases, like a carnation background and a red outfit or summer green with pink. There is just so much more to play with if you have more colours on your palette. Any painter would agree

4. Do you have a photographer or artist who inspires you?

Of course! Retro pin-up is generally inspired by a huge range of people, I am no exception. If you do your homework on the style there are so many names you won't get around. Gil Elvgren, Vargas, Olivia De Berardinis are names that come to mind thinking of artists. Bunny Yeager and Bernard of Hollywood when it comes to photographers and of course the infamous Bettie Page, who has inspired so many people in so many ways.

My biggest inspirations are the women that come through my door though. Every single one of them brings different and new ideas to a shoot and those make sure no photo shoot ever becomes a routine exercise.

5. If there was a flood tomorrow, which bit of kit would you rescue and why?

My camera bag and it's content! When I first started The Hourglass® I had no studio and I travelled all over the UK to people's homes and locations and even though I love the possibilities and the control I have in the studio, if all that would be taken away I could still shoot great pictures in somebody else's home or outdoors as long as I have my beloved camera and it's lenses.

6. What has been your favourite shoot and why? What happened that made it so memorable?

In the past five and a bit years I have photographed over 250 women and I don't think I could pick a single shoot that was my favourite.

There have been some incredible moments I will never forget though, like having a girl bathe in a giant witch cauldron that we could just about got through the studio door. It was a prop my partner John made especially for this shoot and it looked fantastic.

Another involved John again, standing on a ladder throwing fake snow on a girl covering herself with a giant red scarf...memorable because we did it again and again and again until the snow flakes fell just right. I should mention this shoot was with an experienced model, normally I work one-to-one in the studio.

And finally I could mention a shoot I did in an old barn in St. Albans. It was just the girl and me there, it was November and it was freezing cold, which was not very pleasant for the girl, who was wearing a lot less than me. As it got later and darker outside we started to think about the fact that we were completely on our own, in the middle of nowhere, in the pitch-black country side and I think our imagination just went into overdrive. We got so scared in the end that we rang our partners and they had to come to the rescue...silly women!

7. How can people get hold of you? What's your website?

They can email me, ring me, find me on Facebook etc.

My website is www.thehourglass.eu and all contact details and social network links are on the website.

You can see some of Nicole's work in our gallery here.

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I am a degree student photographer who has used your backdrops for many years and can not fault them. I use the arctic white as a rule but have just moved into colours.

Michelle Bean
Michelle Bean Photography

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