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Retro Pin-up Photographer Mike Millam:

Photo by Mike Millam
     Modern pin-up photography is all about reinterpreting and re-imagining the styles and images that came before. The question most current photographers ask is how can they add something new and original to this classic genre. Mike Millam, the creative force behind Nightmare Photography, creates images that appear to come from some fevered dream filled with exaggerations on standard themes. There is always something wonderfully wicked and devilish simmering just below the surface. 

     Here now is an exclusive interview with Mike Millam of Nightmare Photography.

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Java's Bachelor Pad: Looking at your photos, it's easy to tell you have a difference approach to pin-up photography than other people we've featured. There is a lot of exaggeration in your photos. You seem to take archetypal poses and set-ups and give them a twist. Is this a fair assessment?

Mike Millam: Yes that would be a fair assessment of my images. The exaggeration is from my urge to be creative and too look at pin ups as more than just girly images but can be more creative and artistic. Pin ups now have a need to be pushed and redefined. That is what I am striving for and I keep trying to push myself more and more in new directions because pin ups have been around for almost 80 years now so it would make no sense to just copy what has already been done. I hope my images bring something new to the table of pin up photography.

JBP: How do you balance the classic pin-up aesthetic with your post-modern sensibilities? (Man, I just used a lot of big words there!)

MM: I don't really try to keep any type of balance between the two. I photograph what comes to me and use the classic pin ups as a starting off point to find inspiration. I prefer to try and do my own style of work with out trying to keep some sort of balance or rules as to how a pin up should look.  Pin ups have been around for a very long time and in order to keep them interesting I like to add my own modern twist to them.

JBP: How did you get started with pin-up photography? Who are your influences?

MM: I had been photographing for almost 4 years mostly in school and photographing for bands at their shows and I had a need to do something new. I always loved pin ups especially the WWII era ones. I came across Danielle Bedics and Ocativio's images and thought it would be a lot of fun to photograph in this style, so used my girlfriend as my guinea pig in experimenting with these types of images. My influences would be Danielle Bedics, Chad Michael Ward, Chas Ray
Krider and David Lachapelle to name a few and of course my girlfriend Rebeca has been a great influence on me and my work.

JBP: If you had a motto for your photography, what would it be?

MM: "It's like a poke in the eye" I don't make sense half of the time and neither should this.

JBP: You have used a lot of our Cheesecake Gals in your photos...Dillon, Tara, Carol (our first Cheesecake Queen!), Jeanette, and Anneliese just to name a few. Are these gals as lovely in person as they appear in photos? Is there a certain type of girl you look for?

MM: These girls are even lovelier in person and are all of fun to work with. I don't really look for any specific type of girl to shoot. I do look for girls who are interested in being more creative with their images and can bring something extra to the shoot besides just showing up and looking pretty.  I love shooting all types of women and for me keeps things more interesting.

JBP: What sort of projects are you working on now? What sorts of things would you like to explore with your photos?

MM: I am currently working on a corset series that is going to be pin up inspired but more on the fetish and macabre side. I am moving to a darker style of shooting which is something I have always wanted to do and started when I was first photographing but will now bring in my influence of pin ups with them.
     I have been interested in using my images to explore the sexuality of women and their roles within society. Today women are more and more invading a "mans" world, which is awesome; however there still seems to be this urge to going back to being treated like sex objects. Just look at a magazine stand, television and movies. More and more women are told that they must strive to look like the women on the covers of magazines and so forth. What I find odd is that most photos in magazines have been severely photo shopped and there is no way a woman can look that way.  So I hope to see my images move in the direction of exploring this. 

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