Photographer of the Week: Simon Laroche

Pin-up photography, fashionable in the 1940s and 50s, evolved into modern glamor and erotic photography. But in recent years pin-up has come back into favor as a distinct genre, which is identifiable for being ‘retro’ in all senses except for photographic technique. The style and the way the model presents herself will have more of the 1950s about it than the 21st century: she will likely wear stockings and garter belt rather than pantyhose, full panties rather than a thong.

Many pin-up shots don’t just present the girl’s curves – they put her into a situation. Often it’s a mildly calamitous or embarrassing one, like burning the dinner or finding her skirt blowing up in the street, but it’s generally presented as part of the normal everyday life of a normal young woman. As with the use of a period look and clothing, the situations will ‘quote’ that era’s view of women’s place in the world, with a mildly humorous or ironic emphasis on domestic scenarios. And if from time to time the photographer should introduce a second figure into the photograph, particularly if it’s meant to be her boyfriend or husband, then the everyday calamity might just be something we’d like to see…

Some photographers specialize in the pin-up genre, and we’ll encounter some of them later in this series. One who doesn’t, but who recently decided to experiment with it, is Montreal-based Simon Laroche. He had seen the pin-up website suicidegirls and was thinking about the genre with modern eyes and attitudes, as a vehicle for women’s self-assertion rather than a vehicle for their subjection and objectification. He wanted to shoot a series of pin-ups showing the women in charge of the process:

‘I thought that it would be more interesting to do something tasteful where the curves of a women would be celebrated. Like it or not, pin-ups are voluptuous and with that in mind and from a man’s perspective, you can really create some powerful images. Attitude, curves, sensuality, all while remaining classy. I’m not looking for anything vulgar but instead creating a sensual, healthy ambiance.’

So he hired six models and a retro-styled loft atop a Montreal biscuit shop, and arranged a 6-hour shoot on November 17, 2013.

The first model to be photographed was Caprice deLuxe.

Simon Laroche (00) Simon Laroche (01)

She’s a burlesque performer as well as a model, and also goes by the name of André-Anne leBlanc. She arrived with her hair still in curlers…

Simon Laroche (02)

… but that was part of the setup for the first segment of the shoot, in which she played a bored housewife who hasn’t got dressed yet.

Simon Laroche (02a) Simon Laroche (02b)

What she needs is … something more interesting to read than a cookbook.

Simon Laroche (02c)

Shocking? Or intriguing?

Simon Laroche (03)

But here they hit a minor snag. Apparently Simon hadn’t planned for the shoot to go this way, because he hadn’t hired a male model to play hubby. Luckily the owner of the loft, Patrick Foisy, was present. Would he mind lending a hand?

Simon Laroche (04)

So the bored housewife gets what she wanted…

Simon Laroche (04a)

… though it looks as if she may think it’s a little more than she bargained for!

Simon Laroche (04b)

Applause, please, for Patrick Foisy and Caprice deluxe!

Simon Laroche (04bb)

If you are interested in Simon Laroche’s work, please visit his website.

Simon Laroche (04c)

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