Celeste Giuliano is a professional pin-up photographer based out of Philadelphia, PA. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, television and has just released a new book called “Keyhole Cuties – The Pin-Up Art of Celeste Giuliano” from Schiffer Publishing. (See book review here)
One glance at her photography is like falling into a candy shop. She places a massive amount of focus on detail & color, including her masterful ability to replicate the classic poses and sets of the old masters. Her mixture of photography and post work makes it really hard to tell if you are looking at a modern photo or a vintage Vargas painting.
In addition to her photography, her home studio is like a virtual pin-up museum. Be sure to check it outon her website and you’ll see what I mean.
How long have you been doing pinup and how did you get started? How did you stumble upon your unique style?
I have been photographing pin-ups for over 8 years. In college I was interested in commercial and fashion photography and wanted to head in that direction so once I graduated the next step was for me to build my portfolio.
I always loved pinups and collected everything retro and vintage and that inspired me to start photographing pinups. It was at this time that I partnered with The Preston and Steve Show of WMMR, a local radio station here in Philadelphia. They ran a contest for Philly’s Hottest. Each month the contest would be a different theme … hottest teacher, hottest secretary, hottest hairdresser etc. I would photograph the winners in pinup style for the categories they won. During this time my photos were also featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, CBS Channel 3 News and Daily Candy. My business snowballed and grew into a full time job for which I am so grateful!
Did you always shoot pinup or do you do other themes as well?
While attending the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and upon graduating I worked as a photographer and then as a Photo Editor for a local newspaper for about 10 years. During this time at the paper I started my business and photographing pin-ups and I now do that full time. The studios main focus is retro styled portraiture and we are booked about 2-3 months in advance which allows me little time to photograph any other then pin-ups.
I read in the book that your Grandfather was a fashion illustrator? That must have been an incredible influence? Did he do pinup as well?
He was a men’s fashion designer here in Philadelphia. I remember when I was young I would sit in his workshop alongside him and draw. Plastered all over the walls of his workshop would be these gorgeous calendars and magazine pages of classic pin-up girls. That has always been a fond memory and definitely an influence as to why I just love pin-ups!
I love the fact that you pay so much attention to the little details, right down to the vintage clothing and sets. You must have like, a warehouse of vintage stuff laying around somewhere? How much time does it take to plan, set up and shoot?
I am very, very detail oriented – to the point where it is beyond OCD!
Depending on the set I can spend from a few hours prepping, to several days to a week or more. Many sets, especially the recreation sets that are based off of original paintings I may have to design, construct, paint, style and shop. My props and wardrobe take up tons of space and I do have several storage spaces to accommodate everything. Since I love vintage decor many of my props also decorate my home.
What software do you use?
Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I also use a Wacom Cintiq display.
Who has been your biggest creative influence? Who is your fav artists/photographers at the moment?
My grandfather and his pinup collection was a big influence on my work but of course I have been influenced by other photographer and artists. I love the work of Richard Avedon, Irivng Penn, Matthew Rolston, Steven Meisel, Mark Seliger and George Hurrell – they were and are such amazing portrait photographers. Of course, many of the great pin-up artists such as Alberto Vargas, Gil Elvgren and George Petty, just to name a few.
What do you do when you’re not shooting pin-up? What is a day in the life for Celeste Giuliano like?
It’s all work! On average I shoot about 30 – 35 clients a month so on days when I am not shooting I am editing, doing post production on print orders as well as commercial work.
On the very rare occasion that I do have free time outside of shooting in the studio or away from my computer, then it is still business related as I am shopping for props/ wardrobe, making sets or doing events to help promote my business. I love what I do and to running a successful business takes tons of hard work and long hours so I am more then happy to do it as it helps the my business grow.
What does the future hold for you? What are you working on next?
I would like to keep growing my brand and business, publish lots more books and work on several other projects I have had up my sleeve for a while. I am currently working on shooting content for my next book.
Each year I photograph the Pinups For Pitbulls Calendar. Pinups For Pitbulls is an amazing non-profit whose mission is to educate people about the history, temperament, and plight of the pit bull-type dog. We are currently preparing to photograph the 2015 Pinups For Pitbulls Calendar but copies of the 2014 calendar can be purchased via their website – www.pinupsforpitbulls.org.