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Wednesday 15 July 2015

An interview with Nicole from The Hourglass

I've talked a little in my blog about how growing up I never had much confidence. I was bullied through out school and no matter how I looked there was always a reason someone didn't like me. As I grew up and found myself, I became happier and when I was offered a chance to model, I didn't understand why, but I gave it a try. Through modelling my confidence grew, I couldn't believe it when I got pictures back and I didn't look as bad as I thought I did. I worked so hard to accept myself for who I was, and to not change but improve on things I wasn't happy with.

As you can imagine by the time I had my first child, me and my body were set for even more changes. After a traumatic birth I was very ill and suffered anxiety. I felt so disappointed that all I had worked for, I had lost. I felt awful about myself again. I had put on weight, I had stretch marks and a caesarian section, which I was sure made me look like Frankensteins Monster.

Anyways I could go on more about the many issues my lack of confidence caused in my life, but that is not why we are here. This post is about a positive act that got me back on my way to feeling I was good enough again. My husband being the wonderful, crazy man he is, who no matter how big or small I've been, no matter how many scars I have carried can still not be convinced that I am not sexy, booked for me to shoot with The Hourglass.

My experience was just what I needed, Nicole was
wonderful and understanding. She never stops trying to lift your confidence. Her hair and make up skills are perfection, she creates an imaginative set and she know how to pose each women to get the most flattering look for them. Now I could go on about my shoot with Nicole and tell you why I am such a big fan of her and her work but really I think you could see for yourselves if you read this interview I've recently done with her.

1. What started your interest in the Vintage/Pin up genre? and has it effected the person you have become?

Nicole by Ken Clarke
I remember stumbling over a book about Vargas in the art section of my school library and was hooked by the amazing pictures in it. I am afraid I never brought it back and still have it on my shelf today, I was about 15 or 16, I think. So that was about the time I got properly seduced by pin up art. I am sure it has effected the person I have become, definitely since I have actually started to photograph pin ups myself. It has made me a much more liberal person. I certainly think about nudity a in a very different way these days, then even ten years ago.

2. What made you want to start The Hourglass?

I got frustrated with the way women were presented in the mainstream media. When I started The Hourglass we just had the whole obsession with 'size 0' and the fashion world was completely in love with underweight models. I had met so many women that just out of blue started telling me what was wrong with them and how they didn't like themselves. Too fat, too short, they didn't like their hair, nose, name it, so I thought surely there must be a way of showing women they are doing just fine the way they are, without fulfilling the criteria of an unrealistically created stereotype. I combined this with my love for pin up and retro fashion, threw my knowledge about hair, make-up and photography into the pot and The Hourglass was born. this was back in 2006 and it has been one amazing ride so far!

3. Is there a preferred body type or aged subject you think is better to shoot?

Simple I really don't care what size or age somebody is (I do ask you are at least 18 though). The fabulous Jo King (UK's number 1 burlesque teacher) once said to me....'As long as you are breathing and female I'll have you in my class'. I think along the same lines about shoots. Not everybody is instantly a model, but certainly every woman can feel and look fabulous in front of a camera!

4. Do you think imperfections such as weight, stretch marks and wrinkles should be edited out or do prefer to use tricks to show them in there best light?

I am lazy when it comes to editing. if I can do it in the studio, I will. But I also will always go with what the client wishes. Some ladies are proud of their scars or marks others are not, so when it bothers them it won't stay in the picture. I find it important that whoever comes to me is happy with the result, so if this means editing out stretch marks or cellulite then that's what I will do. We must not forget that even in 'the good old days' images were edited. It was way more difficult to do then, but it was done. There is a line I wouldn't want to cross though, when there is not much left anymore of the actual person I have seen in the studio and the image becomes a total unreal creation.

5. Do you think social media is too judgemental when it comes to women? Are they right in hiding female nipples?

Oh my, don't get me started. I have an absolute love-hate relationship with social media. On one hand it's a great communications tool, which we all use for (almost) free, but what is all this fuss about female nudity? Why is it such a problem? I have been reported several times and banned form Facebook for 24 hours for too much nudity in my images, which I consider pretty harmless and tasteful and I don't show frontal nudity on social media either. So yes, I think there is way too many restrictions placed on women on social media, but it's not just there. It's our whole society that needs to rethink a few rules about what is acceptable for women to do or show and what isn't. I think it needs to be a personal decision of the individual woman what she wants to wear or how much skin she wants to show and nobody else should have a say in it. I definitely support #freethenipple

6. What would you say to people who think women posing in this matter are being exploited?

I am sure there is still some exploitation going on, especially if we look at something more graphic like the porn industry, but when it comes to pin up, the women are actually in control. They step into the limelight on their own account and are in charge of how much they show and how much they don't. So how can they be exploited if they are in control of what they do?

7. Do you have any posing tips for anyone who is interested in trying a Pin up shoot but are self conscious about there bodies?

Actually my tip would be, book a shoot with a good pin up photographer and just go for it. Do a bit of research and check the leading photographer names on the pin up scene and just book in with the one you like the sound and look of most. They will help you along, tailor everything to your level and guide you all through the shoot and you will be utterly surprised how much fun you will have and how quickly you become totally hooked!

8. What achievement are you most proud of?

Somebody asked that question recently in a Facebook group and I answered it like this: 'Every time a lady that has never posed before walks out the door with way more confidence than she had before. Nothing beats that!' And that is still 100% true. But if we are talking more commercial terms, I am super proud of being able to work with my favourite lingerie brand 'What Katie Did', having had a cover with the American pin up magazine 'Bachelor Pad', being editor, designer and in-house photographer of 'Tease and Cake, Vintage Inspired Pin Up Magazine' and knowing that I have the first ever pictures of some quite well known pin up girls in my portfolio.

9. What benefits do you think can come from a Pin up shoot?

I have seen significant changes in some ladies that have come to me for a shoot. Some have even claimed it has changed their lives, but I wouldn't say that it has that much to do with me, more with the whole package. I had women, who had were convinced they are ugly and suddenly they looked in the mirror, after having their hair and make-up done, and nearly burst into tears. It simply gives you a very different take on the image you are used to seeing when looking at yourself. Sometimes all it takes to make you re-think your own image is somebody telling you that you look pretty amazing. It has even more of an impact if that somebody is actually a stranger and I think that's what happens during a pin up shoot, plus you will have the images to tell you the same again afterwards.

10. Whats next for you and The Hourglass?

Currently we are building an extension to our house which will be the space for my brand new studio, which I find incredibly exciting. By October my new calendar will be out and available to buy, with 12 amazing ladies and the theme this time is 'Goddesses' You can come and meet me at Kustom Kulture Blastoff at the Lincolnshire Showgrounds first weekend in September, where I will have a stall together with 'Tease and Cake' and will also be on the road with 'Tease and Cake' for the first ever 'Miss Tease&Cake' competition so you can meet me again at the finals at the London Tattoo Convention late September.

Thanks for having me Nicole xx

Nicole by Mike Crawley
The Hourglass offers a variety of different package photoshoots, where you will be made over into a luscious Pin up Girl. Working out of her studio based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Nicole will leave you feeling powerful and sexy. So if you would like a cheeky gift for your partner, some pictures to show off or even to start your own modelling portfolio, why not book in for your very own shoot. Nicole can be contacted on her Website, Facebook and Twitter

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