What is Glamour Photography?
Glamour photography is different from other genres in that it emphasizes the model rather than products, fashion or environment. Typically the sexuality of the model or the sensuality of the photo is emphasized in glamour, while in fashion photography the emphasis is on the clothes. But there are other details which go further than this to separate the two. As Rolando Gomez, glamour photographer explains:
"While there are several differences between the two genres, normally in fashion photography the model looks away or in another direction from the camera lens, not at the camera. Why? Because when someone looks at you, you naturally look back--if I'm trying to sell a clothing line, I don't need my models making eye contact with potential buyers; I need the buyers looking at the garments, accessories, etc., not the model's eyes. The idea is to sell a product, in this case clothes, not the model."
Glamour model photography is rapidly growing for several reasons. Advertisers have long linked sensuality with products. Simply put, a sexy model in an advertisement is intended to persuade consumers that if they buy the product, they too will be sexy. However, until 1950s, the use of glamour photography in advertising or men’s magazines was highly controversial or even illegal. 'Men’s Magazines' were usually marketed as 'Art Magazines' or 'Health Magazines. Clothing catalogs such as Sears often used drawings rather than photographs to market their products. Even Frederik’s of Hollywood, one of the most innovative marketers of lingerie, used cartoon drawings in their catalogs, seen to the right.
Playboy Magazine was instrumental in changing the world of glamour photography in December 1953 as the first magazine that focused on nude models and was targeted at the main stream consumer. After Playboy broke through many magazines followed and this was instrumental in opening the market for the introduction of glamour photography into modern society. Recently, several popular glamour magazines are reversing the trend by emphasizing glamour while showing less nudity, in favor of topless, or implied (covered) nudity. Examples include Maxim, which launched in 1995 and FHM (For Him Magazine) in 1994.
Development of Glamour Photography
Glamour photography dates back to the beginnings of photography itself. Since the early 1800's when the first photo was taken, female models have been the focus of photographer’s attention. Early erotic photography is often associated with "French Postcards", small post card sized images, such as the photo to the right, that were sold by street vendors in France and often purchased and brought home by foreign tourists. Rarely sent by mail, these post cards were often treasured possessions of soldiers going to war.
In the early 1900's the pinup was born. Pinups were rarely nude, but rather scantily dressed women often in a playful pose seemingly surprised or startled by the viewer. The model would usually have an expression of delight which seemed to invite the viewer to come and play. The pin-up created a playful type of voyeurism which tickled and aroused. Rita Hayworth, seen in the pinup photo to the left was one of the most popular pinup models in history.
Top Ten Glamour Models of History:
This list is our opinion of the top glamour models of history. As glamour modeling has gone hand in hand with photography and film, the list focuses on the past century. Our main criteria are the fame and legendary status achieved by the model. You will note that most are film stars since movies certainly help to boost the popularity of the model. We have compared our list with Playboy’s 100 sexist stars of the century. [In Brackets, the ranking on Playboy’s 100 sexiest stars of the century] Playboy’s list seems to be oriented towards models which reached their peak after the 1950’s when Playboy magazine also reached its peak. Our list is organized based on the birth of the model. We chose not to rank the models as we believe this impossible. However Marilyn Monroe is definately the Goddess of Glamour Photography of all times. Below our list you will find the top ten from Playboy’s list:
Mae West (1893-1980) [44*] famous for her vaudeville, stage and film career, Mae West combined her sensuality with sexual humor. In 1927 she produced and stared in a Broadway play 'Sex' which was so controversial, it was raided by the police and she spent eight days in jail. Her next play, The Drag, was about homosexuality and was banned on Broadway. Some of her most famous quotes are, from the movie She Done Him Wrong (1933) "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" (often misquoted as "Come up and see me sometime") and "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" In Night After Night (1932), in response to "Goodness, what a lovely diamond", Mae West replied "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."
Marlene Dietrich [32*] (1901-1992): This German actress, entertainer, singer, and cabaret performer was out-spoken critic of Nazi Germany. She raised war bonds for the US and entertained troops during World War II. Her contributions were honored by both the US and French governments, but many Germans considered her a traitor. She received an Oscar nomination and a Tony award for her acting work.
Greta Garbo [17*] (1905-1990): The most glamorous movie star of the 20’s and 30s, Garbo is still a legend today. Garbo’s life was shrouded in mystery. It is thought this was mainly because of her avoidance of the public spotlight due to her private life as a lesbian. Her most famous quote is “I want to be left alone” (often misquoted as “I want to be alone”).
Betty Grable [51*] (1916-1973): Her bathing suit photo of 1943 was the most popular pinup of World War II. Grable was probably the most famous pinup model of all times and the photo to the right was one of the most popular pinups ever created.
Rita Hayworth [11*] (1918-1987): A popular actress of the 1940’s who appeared in several World War II era pinups. See the photo of Rita Hayworth above.
Marilyn Monroe [1*] (1926-1962): Probably the most famous glamour model of all times, she was an actress, singer and model. Her appearance in the first issue of Playboy helped define the future of glamour photography. Marilyn Monroe's tumultuous life and apparent suicide, along with her failed relationships with the very high profile men in her life, aroused sympathy and interest amongst her fans and critics alike, no doubt helping to raise her status as a legendary figure in the world of glamour. The photo to the left was taken as a nude, and then clothes were painted on to create a pinup. Click the image to see the nude photo of Marilyn. Read more about the life of Marilyn Monroe.
Jayne Mansfield [2*] (1933-1967): Proud of being a pinup girl and noted for her self-promotion tactics and publicity stunts, Jayne Mansfield was one of the most popular pinup girls of her time. Her end, very tragically, was in a violent car accident that killed her instantly.
Brigitte Bardot [4*] (1934- ): This French actress, model and singer is now a prominent animal rights activist. She is also known for her outspoken support of ultra right wing politics.
Raquel Welch [3*] (1940- ): One of the leading sex symbols of the 1960’s and 1970’s, though she made her fame as movie sex star, she was not taken seriously as an actress.
Cindy Crawford [5*] (1966- ): Featured on the cover of more than 600 magazines worldwide, Cindy Crawford is the only model on this list not to have had an active film career. She featured in one movie “Fair Game” which was highly criticized and lost its studio a great deal of money. Other than her modeling career, Cindy Crawford made several TV ads and was host of an MTV program.
Playboys’ Top 10 Sexiest Stars of the Century
1. Marilyn Monroe
2. Jayne Mansfield
3. Raquel Welch
4. Brigitte Bardot
5. Cindy Crawford
6. Sophia Loren
7. Elizabeth Taylor
8. Pamela Anderson
9. Bo Derek
10. Jean Harlow
A new search engine has been created which focuses specifically on Glamour Photography. Glamour Photography Search was created with the goal of helping people to become better informed about this popular and rapidly growing field of the photography industry.