Category Archives: Vintage/Retro

Bunny Yeager, the World’s Prettiest Photographer

There’s an excellent new photography book on the shelves: Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin Up Photography’s Golden Era. Written by cultural historian, Petra Mason and with a foreword by modern burlesque star, Dita von Teese.  The book also contains excerpts from Bunny Yeager’s own how-to manuals, as well as 250+ photos; including many previously unpublished ones.

The cover of “Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin Up Photography’s Golden Era” (Rizzoli Books)

On Tuesday evening, Shawn and I jumped at the opportunity to attend the book signing and talk with Petra and Bunny at Books & Books in the Gables. And it was fantastic!I had known of Bunny Yeager and her photography; but didn’t know too much about her background; she seems to be a pretty private person. So, it was great to hear Bunny talk and answer some questions from the audience.  Yeager is a long-time resident of Miami and is well-known for both her self-portraits and now iconic images of Bettie Page. She was also a sought after model in the 1950’s. After modeling for a while she decided she wanted to be behind the camera too, so she took a photography class; and practiced by doing many self-portraits. Back then she was the only female pin-up photographer – and an excellent one at that! In 1955 she submitted  to Playboy Magazine, a photo of Bettie Page dressed in nothing but a Santa Claus hat, decorating a tree. From then on, her photography career (as well as Bettie’s modeling career) took off.  Now, at age 83, Bunny is still going strong. She still shoots – and with film! She plans on making more books, and just signed a contract with Bruno Banani, a German lingerie and bikini line.

The author Petra Mason did an excellent job of compiling Yeager’s images into this fantastic book. When Shawn and I were flipping through it while listening to Bunny tell us a story about a photo shoot she did with Sammy Davis, Jr. and the model, Maria Stinger; we felt like we were holding a piece of history in our hands. There are photos in the book from that shoot. Sammy had Bunny help him learn how to pose a model and shoot with a Hasselblad camera.

During the Q&A with Mason and Yeager, we learned little tidbits about Bunny: She still shoots film. She does not own a digital camera. Bettie Page was the first model she photographed who had an even tan – i.e. no tan lines. She still has the tripod that Sammy Davis, Jr. gave her. She also still has her old 8×10 Speed Graphic camera. She liked shooting with a Yashicamat and Minolta TLR cameras. She can be rough on her equipment, especially back in those days when she would photograph models on the beach (all that sand and salt water!).  She got to the point where she didn’t really need a light meter to know which exposure to use – she could just feel it by the amount of the sunlight.

Bettie Page, Bunny Yeager, and cheetahs. Boca Raton, 1954.

I only wish the conversations with Bunny could have lasted longer. I am sure she has all sorts of interesting stories.  I haven’t read through the whole book yet, but I highly recommend it! Some quotes said by Bunny Yeager that stand out are:

“Make the most of what you have and enjoy being female; enjoy being YOU.”

“When you start photographing yourself, you are going to be amazed at all the things you find out about yourself, and you’ll be glad you did.”

Bunny Yeager and Bettie Page, behind the scenes.

Thank you, Bunny, for re-inventing the pin-up.

A Bright Idea

If you have been doing photography for quite some time, chances are you own some film cameras, but now since digital is the way to go, those film cameras are probably spending more time in the closet or on the shelf than actually in your hands, shooting. But you probably don’t want to part with them. Maybe they have sentimental value for you, or maybe you plan on shooting a roll of film one of these days, or maybe you’re trying to find some other use for them.  Photographer Jason Hull has a nifty idea: he takes old cameras and transforms them into night-lights.

On his Flickr set, he states: “I’m converting a few old cameras from the 50’s & 60’s into nightlights. I’m not modifying cameras if they are in pristine condition or if they’re rare, I’d rather they stay usable as cameras in those cases. The ones I’ve chosen are lightweight plastic, produced in huge numbers and easily found for sale at flea markets/ garage sales/ eBay.”

How awesomely appropriate are these for us camera geeks? I could see myself putting these in my future kid’s bedroom. Also makes me want to dust off some of my old cameras and see what kind of other useful household item I can turn it into. Which brings me to the best part of this post – yes, saving the best for last! – Jason Hull was kind enough to post a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this yourself. Check it out here: on Instructables.

[PetaPixel]

Instagram for Android – finally!

As an Android phone owner and a photographer, I was quite excited when Instagram became open to Android users last month. I could now finally be a follower in the cult that is Instagram. Even though I am an Apple fanatic and own several things from an iPod to a MacPro; I don’t have an iPhone (yet? 😉 instead I currently own a Samsung Captivate.

The first photo I took with it was of one of my favorite subjects of course: my 2 dogs. After a few photos, I suddenly understood why the hype over Instagram: it’s simple and awesome.  It’s really easy to use. There’s only 16 filters to choose from. It’s square-ish shape brings me back to the times when I shot with my Hasselblad 500C. (love that camera!) Then there’s the whole social networking aspect connected with it.  Before Instagram, I was constantly using various photo apps on my phone (Little Photo and Vignette being my faves – more on those in another post). While those did some pretty neat and fantastic effects, the filters and choices were a bit overwhelming at times. I remember my first use of Little Photo resulted in a significant battery drain because I was so enthralled with the choices and spent so much time trying different effects!  Don’t get me wrong, I still love those apps and use them just as much, but sometimes one is in the mood for a more simple one, and that is the beauty of Instagram.

Dishwashed Film

©Tom Welland

This morning while doing some of my daily online reading before I begin work, I learned of a new use for a dishwasher: developing film! Who knew! I love alternative processes and have a few books on the subject; but never would have thought of this before!

Photographer Tom Welland’s Dishwashed Film is very dream-like and reminds me of a combination of cross processing film and Polaroids. Welland says he knows they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea… but I can tell you that I am definitely loving them.  (More can be seen on his Flickr page)

It just so happens that we have an older dishwasher at our condo that we are going to replace when the kitchen gets renovated. Hmm, looks like that dishwasher may be good for something now.  😉