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Having a go at a burlesque-style shoot

Over the past few years, burlesque has come back into vogue. Growing in popularity at a startling rate, burlesque troupes can be found in nearly every major city, with housewives and soccer moms now familiar with the art of burlesque. Many of the classic burlesque poses are similar to pinup poses, but they tend to be slightly more dramatic and exaggerated: if pinup is silly, then burlesque is sultry.

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Think ‘stage’

Burlesque performers typically do their shows on a stage, so I always try to emulate this setting in the studio. A great way to do this is with a velvet or silk curtain—red always works. Another background option would be colourful tinsel curtains from a party supply store. When lighting the scene, be sure to make it dramatic, with lots of shadows to help give you an ‘on stage’ look.
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You can’t talk about burlesque without mentioning fans. Huge ostrich feather fans have long been a staple of burlesque performers and they make a great prop to have on hand in the studio. If a girl comes in with a burlesque outfit, toss her some huge fans and you instantly have a great photo. There are many classic burlesque poses that work with fans, but the whole idea is to slowly reveal parts of your body; it’s all about the tease. It’s important to keep the legs in a classic performer’s stance—place one knee over the other while keeping the toe pointed.
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Feather boas

Feather boas are another staple in burlesque and striptease, and are readily available in every colour under the sun. Boas naturally lend themselves to a variety of posing options, so stick one in your model’s arms and turn her loose—she won’t be able to contain herself!
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Colours and accessories

For a burlesque performer, bright colours and bold accessories are what make her the star of the show when she’s on stage. More feathers? You bet! But this time they’re in the form of hair accessories. If you’ve ever seen a burlesque show, you’ll have noticed that the performers wear a lot of layers so they can slowly undress without revealing everything. When it comes to posing, an easy way to get some great ideas is to have your model go through the same motions, while you snap away—you’ll end up with great images every time.
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Shoot Sexy is Ryan Armbrust’s guide to creating alluring pin-up-style photos, whether you’re shooting professionally, or just for fun. From working with models to props, to lighting, to post-processing, he has you covered!

Shoot Sexy, Ryan ArmbrustShoot Sexy
Ryan Armbrust

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RRP for print edition: £17.99