Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Interview with Shoshana Portnoy of Through The Looking Glass Studio
All Fruit Tart(for Bimbo Bakeries)
1)Tell us about your background, like did you go to art school, and what mediums you work in aside from the pin up photography you are famous for.
I fell in love with photography at 13 when my uncle gave me an old Minolta manual camera (yes, the kind that used film). I shot friends, and the “popular kids” at school. It quickly became my identity- I was a photographer. I sort of used the camera as a way to relate to and learn about people I admired. It’s amazing the side of people that comes out when they are photographed; something changes when you are in front of (and behind) a lens.
I graduated high school and went on to Texas A & M- Commerce, where I earned a BA in photography. I graduated still convinced the whole “digital photography thing” would never catch on; I had a love for the black and white darkroom like nothing else. Now, however, I haven’t shot film or been in a darkroom in over eight years.
While the vintage community knows me for my pin-up work, I shoot everything. I do a lot of editorial portrait work for magazines, and even do some food photography. I do paint as well, though I’ve only completed five paintings in my life that I am proud of. Two even won awards and were selected for exhibitions, but I really don’t consider myself a painter at all. My mother and I own all of the paintings I’ve ever done. I know a little about lots of different mediums, because I come from a family where the arts are a really big deal. My maternal grandfather was a painter and stained glass artist, my paternal grandfather was a tailor and clothing designer, my mother is very artistic- but does it as a hobby, and my brother is a potter.
2)Where do you get the inspiration for your pin up photo shoots and how long does it take for you to see it to its fruition?
In the beginning, my work was very basic, and I relied on the classic WWI & II art for inspiration. As I fell in love with the style more and more and became comfortable with it, I began to explore ideas. I wanted to physically get dirty and use my creative energy to build sets. My first giant prop was a six foot cupcake my brother and I built in the garage out of an electrical spool, chicken wire, and paper mache. It took weeks, but the finished shot was so worth it- it is still one of my favorites! From there everything snowballed into every fantasy world I had ever lived in as a child- Alice’s Wonderland, a member of the circus, Candy Land, the list goes on and on...
I’m now looking to movies for inspiration. The Homage to Tim Burton shoot originated last Halloween, but I couldn’t figure out how to pull it off. It’s taken a full year of working it out in my head and I’m finally booking for the shoot.
Jai L' Bait as Alice in Wonderland
3)What advice would you give to someone who is booking their first photo shoot with you?
I am really easy to talk to. If you have a crazy idea and want to bounce it off of me- shoot me an email or give me a ring- I’m betting we can make it happen. Talk to me about your concerns- chances are, I’m ready for them.
4)I am sure there are more than a few gals, myself included, who would love to book a shoot with you but, are not at ease in front of a camera, and for whom posing for pictures does not come naturally. What words of wisdom can you give us camera shy girls?
Start by having a drink, and then...
It may help to look through pin-up pose guides that you can find on the internet and in books, and practice them in front of a mirror to see which ones appeal to you, but don’t get hung up on them. These are images of you, so bring your own energy to the shoot. This process should be a lot of fun, not intimidating. Bring ideas to the table, and then trust me to give you great images.
Not everyone is a pin-up model, nor should they be. This is about shooting great images of real women and making each lady feel great about themselves. I will help you out in every area from choosing outfits to posing and make it a painless process.
This plays into a question I get all the time. “I’m uncomfortable with my (insert random body part here)”. The solution is to dress , light, and pose you in a way that reveals your strengths and masks your “weaknesses”. That is my job; you don’t have to worry about a thing…..
Casey Thompson of Top Chef (for D Magazine)
5)Tell us 3 things that people would be very surprised to know about you.
1.I was kicked out of public school for a month in the sixth grade for stealing the school bus.
2.When I was little, I wanted to be a lawyer, but there are plenty of those in the family already.
3.I made a pact with myself to see all 50 U.S. states before age 40. I have nine years and twelve states to go!
Granny and her 76 Monte Carlo SuperSport (Personal Work)