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Retro Pin-up Photographer Viva Van Story:

Photo by Viva Van Story
     What can we say about Viva Van Story's photos except WOW! She is among a new generation of female shutter bugs who have brought new life to the art of pin-up photography. Viva sure has a knack for making every one her models look larger-than-life and mouth-wateringly vivacious. What is her secret? Well, find out in this exclusive interview between Java and Viva Van Story.

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Java's Bachelor Pad: I've been a big fan of your photos for a while. I love the bold and brassy style you have. Your pictures are very much rooted in the  pin-up/cheesecake tradition...but they're not traditional pin-ups. What's your philosophy when it comes to taking photos?

Viva Van Story: I think for me it's about capturing the old Hollywood glamour but with vivid color, like the old Eyeful Magazine covers. I'd get bored doing the traditional pin-ups with only solid backdrops.  I need more going on in the image to capture my attention. I also love working with models and performers that are sultry but still convey some innocence with a certain glance or pose. I look for voluptuous curves, luscious thighs, and a pert bosom--women who can deliver playful expressions that get under a man's skin. Isn't that why pinup imagery is so timeless? I'd like to keep them going strong with my own little twist.

JBP: As you pointed out, you really celebrate a model's curves. You get up close and chose angles that really bring out their legs, their hips, the curves in their back, etc... It gives an real sensual feel to your pictures. I'm assuming this is something you actively do when you set up a shot. Am I right?

Viva: It's probably because we were dancing right before I hit the button to take the picture! I want my images to be very intimate for the viewer. Before I picked up a camera, I used to draw human anatomy. I studied this in school; I used to draw life-sized drawings of women, so I guess that's influenced my style now, and my interest of the human form. It's always been so beautiful to me. 

JBP: Nowadays, there's a slew of amazing women pin-ups photographers. You, Shannon Brooke, and Danielle Bedics...just to name a few. And you gals are able to get so much out of your models. There's this energy you get from them that just isn't there when they sit for male photographers. It's something I half-jokingly refer to as the Bunny Yeager effect. Do you sense it when you work with your models?

Viva: I'm really no different from the gals that walk into my studio.  We like the same music and we collect the same things. We're just having fun and playing with ideas and then, bam! I liked to depict women who are just as strong if not stronger than the women from the past.  I work with women who are raising their children alone, women who are lawyers, women who own their own businesses. I look at my images with pride knowing I've captured the subject at their most confident moment.

JBP: You have photographed some beautiful women  in your time. (Heidi Van Horne, Sabina, Angela Ryan, Dillon Thomas, etc...) What do you look for in a model? What qualities do you think makes a good pin-up model?

Viva: I look for the same thing everyone else is looking for: a beautiful woman. I like working with someone who can light up the room when she walks in, with a smile and bubbly personality that can make a grown man weak in the knees. I love models that remind me of the Hollywood starlets from my old favorite movies.

JBP: Tell me a little about how you started doing photography. Who were/are you influences?

Viva: As I mentioned before, I used to draw.  Sometimes my pieces took me years to finish, and therefore I wouldn't want to sell them, not for any price. Photography has given me the freedom to experiment with different ideas artistically and then be able to let go of the pieces when I'm finished, for others to enjoy. I came into photography from the other side of the camera, as a model. It was my mother who actually bought me my first camera. I hope someday I can repay her with a nice pink Cadillac in return for all her support over the years. I think the artists from the golden era of pin-up were all brilliant, and love all the different styles: Alberto Vargas, Earl Moran, Art Frahm, Peter Driben, Rolf Armstrong and Gil Elvgren

JBP: What's sorts of things can we expect from you in the future? Do you sense your style changing at all? What sorts of things really turn you on right now?

Viva: I'm working on perfecting my images. I almost want them to look like paintings instead of photography. I also have to credit my make-up Artist, Deigh Roxxx. She adds so much to the retro look with her fabulous skills for glamour make-up. We're a good team, with her make-up and my vintage hairstyles. My favorite things to work with right now are the old cars, switchblades and pistols.   I love the images with a pulp feel. 

JBP: You've got a website launch coming up soon, right? What can we expect at 

Viva: www.vivaspinups.com is scheduled to go live in 2006.  I'm very excited about it.  I really looked into website designers for this project. It's kind of like getting a tattoo: it has to be perfect and fit my style. It's not going to be your basic cheesecake pin-up site: it's going to represent today's pin-ups with a bit more attitude than the ones of the past. 

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