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Friday, 25 November 2016

Vintage Pin-ups: a thing of the past? New guest blog by Penny Dreadful!

I'm excited to introduce a guest blog this week from modern-day pin-up girl Penny Dreadful, who kindly agreed to share her perspective on retro glamour modelling with us. If you are a photographer in the North of England who could use a curvaceous 5'10 model who self-styles, you can browse her full portfolio and make bookings >here<.

For the rest of us, I'm happy to share Penny's feelings on what the true essence of pin-up really is. Let us know your responses in the Facebook comments, and let me know whether you would be interested in seeing more guest blogs from carefully selected relevant industry figures in the future!

Penny: When one mentions Pin-up photography or Pin-up modelling, people automatically think of 1930s-1950s styled shoots. This era has become synonymous with the idea of Pin-up because of Bettie Page, whose photos had a resurgence of popularity from the 1980s, and artists such as George Petty, but the first Pin-Up calendars actually go as far back as 1889. Really, “Pin-up” is a concept that emerged alongside suffrage.

Penny wearing Shhh! Couture.
Hair & makeup by Louise Shepherd.
© Gary Clutterbuck
From the advertising of Brown & Bigelow, the Gibson Girls, Vargas and Elvgren, all the way through to artists like Olivia de Berardinis and Dita Von Teese, the fascination with the Pin-up has always been strong. Feisty and fearless, she has always been a joy to behold, a symbol of both women’s independence, and their right to be sexy for themselves.

So, what approach to take when attempting to photograph Pin-up images yourself? First off, if you are attempting to recreate a Pin-up style from a specific era, research, research, research! For photographers – there can be different lighting techniques that were popular in each era, for example “Hollywood lighting”, and for models – there are lots of different poses to look for and attempt, some of which may require a little practice! Not to mention wardrobe – there has been a resurgence of vintage clothing, which can be helpful for stylists, and also no shortage of online tutorials for hairstyling and makeup from those specific eras.

Photography still holds with the ideal of independent, strong women, looking and feeling fierce, happy with themselves and their bodies. Who wouldn’t want to photograph a modern day Pin-up? Pick up any magazine on the stands today, and you will find pages brimming with examples- the only things that have changed are the fashions on display. It is not the mood that has shifted, only the trimmings.

The Pin-up is here to stay.

© Keith Snell
Penny Dreadful has been a model and artist for 13 years. If you would like to see more of her work, head over to

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Friday, 18 November 2016

Tips on how to buy your first house on the cheap(er)

Okay, so here's that blog I promised about how I bought my house!


Step 1: ask your bank about Help to Buy. We just missed it, but it's where you get free money from the government to help you buy your first home, no strings attached. Have a meeting in person and figure out the most efficient way to save money for your deposit. It's cheaper and easier to buy a house with someone else- doesn't have to be a romantic partner, can just be a friend, or several friends.
Step 2: You can get a free mortgage broker at London and County (they take their fee from whichever bank they hook you up with). Our broker was called Scott Jackson, and he was absolutely excellent- just sorted it all out for us, completely for free and with no strings attached. His number is 01912 693606, call him!

Boats, Park Homes, Static Caravans, Log Cabins etc

I looked into a range of alternatives to a traditional home but it felt as though the system here in the UK is more or less set up to prevent people living in a truly alternative way. It is difficult and expensive to get a mortgage on a boat or caravan/ park home, and even if you can afford to buy one outright, they get less and less valuable as time goes by, like a car would- not more and more valuable, like a house or flat should. And even when you have bought your boat or caravan, you still have to pay rent to "park" it somewhere at all times, to the tune of thousands of pounds a year. This wasn't the right choice for me.

Estate Agents

Estate agents are not legally obliged to tell the truth either verbally or in any of their literature, e.g. the brochure you get when you view a house, or the description on RightMove- so you can pretty much ignore anything they say. You are not their client; the seller is, so that's who they care about. The only person you can really trust is your lawyer (hopefully).


It sends a chill down my spine to think that I ever for a moment considered doing my own conveyancing in order to save money! I was like, well I've not bought a house before, but I've bought stuff before... you just pick the one you want and hand over the money, right?

DO NOT DO YOUR OWN CONVEYANCING unless you are qualified! It is way, way, way more complex than it looks, and on top of that, you need a genuine understanding and practical experience and of how it all works as a whole, and then the ability to think outside of the legal box to be a good lawyer. I would recommend making Juliette Scarfe at Carbon Law your first point of contact, as she was excellent with us, even though she is in London and we are in Somerset. We lost so much time and money on disingenuous sellers until we reached out to her, and she got it all sorted for us very promptly and cleanly.

Moving In

The less you have to move, the cheaper it will be, so have a brutal clear-out and donate unwanted items- even quite scruffy clothes and shoes can be donated into clothing banks if they are still functional. Anything with resale value can go on eBay or Depop.

Have a poke around on Groupon for cheap services, like this moving service. If you can't afford a man in a van, just hire a van and drive it yourself :) ZipVan might be a possibility.

Supermarkets throw away hundreds of big boxes every day, so if you go in and ask for some, they'll be happy to let you take away as many as you can carry.

We didn't really have any furniture when we moved in because we'd always lived in fully furnished accommodation. I got an original Deco dressing table with mirror on eBay for £25, and winged Chesterfield chairs for next to nothing- all I had to do was pick them up. Freecycle is also worth checking out for items that are literally free if you are willing to collect them. Sign up for groups in rich areas- I saw numerous nearly-new Miel cookers given away where I used to live in North London just because their owners wanted a new one in a different colour. Furniture and accessories can be painted to match a room, which is often cheaper than trying to buy everything in the right colour, and tools for redecorating can be rented rather than bought.

There is of course tons and tons of detailed information about this complex process online, but these little pointers come from my personal experience as a first-time buyer, and not a desire to try and sell anything ;) If you think you know someone who might be interested in this info, please share this blog using the Facebook link below.

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Early Bird Special: up to £35 off half-day Somerset home shoots in January!

Firstly, more photos from my flamboyant orange suite in Amsterdam- this time in nothing but my Dita Von Teese Madame X knickers and Bareskin Beauty lotion! I loved this padded, spotlit headboard, so I slid a hardback book under the duvet to stop my high heels sinking too deeply and jumped aboard!

Info about the special offer is after the pictures!

You may have already seen this last one on Instagram.

I'm taking inspiration from this decadent, vintage "maximalist" (new favourite word) style of décor for my new house; a Victorian Gothic lounge with original oak panelling, an Art Nouveau library with a taxidermy peacock (he died of natural causes), a Chinese Deco boudoir with a fireplace nearly as tall as me, and the part that everyone seems most interested in, for some reason... the dungeon. I can't think why!

I am so eager to get photos of it in all its glory that I am offering a limited number of discounted one-on-one home shoots in January, when the renovating work will be done and it will be time to revel in its maximalist lusciousness, as well as enjoy playing hostess in my '50s country kitchen.

You could get up to £35 off a half-day shoot, which is a 20% discount! There are only three of the original 14 shoot slots left, so if you would like to book one of them before they're gone, please apply here today (link to PP casting call- opens in a new tab). If you know someone who might be interested in this unusual offer, please share this post on Twitter by using the little button at the very bottom- it looks like this.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

Something for the Bonfire weekend

I like the icy-cool feel of these new Kaori's Latex Dreams shots by Luci Alice, and it seems appropriate now that winter is here!

Makeup and skincare from Mya Minerals and Bareskin Beauty respectively.

If you think you've seen that pose before, you're right... it's one of my favourites from the '40s:

Do you feel a spark? I'm looking forward to bundling up for a firework display in our garden with my home-made Portabello mushroom burgers and sweet potato fries, mmmm! And plenty of mulled cider. This is all assuming my cooker gets delivered tomorrow, otherwise it's houmous all round again :p

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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

“Pretty girls don’t make good models.” Do you agree?

I had a very interesting and informal chat with professional fetish and boudoir photographer Nic Marchant in between shooting rope bondage, suspension and vintage glamour with him at his studio for KFS TV. Between us, we have 50 years of experience! I got some real talk straight from the horse's mouth on Nic's line of business, including:

  • How to start taking good fetish or boudoir shots right away, even with little or no experience*
  • Film vs digital
  • Shooting vs post-processing
  • How Nic chooses models to work with (as if I wouldn't ask that question!)

Watch the KFS video of our shoot and interview below, or watch it on YouTube (contains nudity)!

You may also be interested to know why Nic thinks it really pays to be a boudoir photographer... and what he said that nearly made me cry right there on camera! ;) There is also some footage of me posing nude at my photo shoot with him.

 Hanging out with Nic at our fetish shoot.

Musn't let my mascara run! ;)

If you are reading this via email subscription and can't see the video above, click here to watch it on YouTube.

If you want to book a trained TV presenter for a project pertaining to something sexy or unusual, please feel free to email me at

* Hint: “Photographing your girlfriend is a very difficult starting point... I think it’s unfair to expect anyone who isn’t a professional model to just switch it on... You need a brilliant model to make it work.”

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