Last month, I had a load of fun doing military pin up photography for my new Poconos client at the World War II Weekend event by the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum.
This was an unexpected photoshoot, I might say. I learned about the annual World War II Weekend from my good friend Ivan Rumiantsev (of a rare occupation in Russian Orthodox icon painting and restoration) who visited it in the past. Frankly, I didn’t feel the full potential there first and just thought of it as a local-sized World War II memorial show. Having grown up in the Soviet Union with a grandfather who fought that war, I’ve seen a lot of such patriotic exhibits, large and small. I assumed this would be a modest event but, man, was I wrong!
First, it offered me a complementary view from the Western front — not something I’ve seen much from the other front’s perspective. Not surprisingly, the Red Army was represented by a tiny station at the farthest end of the show, with barely anyone making their way there. With 13.7% of Soviet population casualties vs. American 0.32%, more credit could be given. Kudos for including the partisans who popped up here and there in the crowd.
Second, the open-air show is MASSIVE! The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum event is attended by about 100,000 people. It not only lets you see the WWII warplanes but also brings many other machinery, vehicles, and guns, including tanks! I’ve seen German and French, too.
But the best part is interactivity. These are not your typical museum fenced-off exhibits. You don’t wander pass them reading a description sign. You touch and hold them, climb, ride, you can even fly in many of the warbirds, including B-29 Superfortress and C-47 Skytrain! Another best part — the exhibits are manned by volunteers dressed in uniforms and knowing a thing or two. You can just approach one of many squads for a chat, watch them attending their camp chores, and take as many photos as you wish! No permits required. The realism is one-of-a-kind and you need at least one full day (the show runs for three) to sink it all in.
So first I thought of just bringing my family and join Ivan’s. Then the idea to try a military pin up photography there hit me! I’ve tried it as an engagement shoot for one couple a few years ago at another museum on Long Island, NY, Cradle of Aviation Museum:
The groom was a pilot and found had an approach to the museum’s exhibits. This time, though, it looked so much more diverse and easier to arrange! I did a shout-out in social media inviting adventurous and creative people, both individuals and couples. I would think the concept can strike many, but no… Only one person from my local FB group jumped in, making my visit to the show so much more exciting!
Here’s Christina again. We connected a little while ago via a Poconos Facebook group and she’s been looking for an opportunity to work with me. I first photographed her during my free portraits for moms event for the past Mother’s Day. A mom of four, she’s one powerful lady — for one, she does MudGirl obstacle races!
A fun and open-minded lifestyle blogger, she was all game for this military pin up photography idea! We only spent one hour shooting and barely covered the basics. I tried to take her to as many spots I had scouted as possible. My goal was to create a whimsical feeling so I put her through several scenarios. As noted above, everyone was fully cooperative. We could broadcast, go under a car’s hood, hold WW2 relic guns, get into a tent, build a sand sack guards, hop into a field shower, and more.
I gave all photos an antique touch in post-production.
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See how much fun it was?? Once done with her military pin up photography, I rejoined with my family, then briefly with Ivan’s, and we had to leave. Not enough time for all the glory! Next time.
When thinking of a title for this blog, I researched the nicknames that the American soldiers were giving to their tanks in WW2. I tried to find examples of those funky names hand-painted on the sides of airplanes and tanks, you know? One tank we used as a prop had a catchy name of “Battling B*tch II”. I aimed for a cuter and safer choice… Instead, was only finding generic nicknames for the entire line of vehicles, like “Chieftain”, “Ronsons”, and “Draftee”. With the lack of a better option, had to go with that original “BBII”, be I forgiven by Christine.
Saddened by the lack of interest during my pre-show reach-out, it relieved me to see that such cool people exist! They may not be in my circles but there were plenty walking around! I even offered a free portrait to a few of them while waiting for Christina. It is possible that there wasn’t enough of a notice for my followers and clients. Now that I experienced this adventure for myself, I’ll reach out earlier next year. What a potential for the creative self-expressing people!
No behind-the-scenes this time, but here are some of the shots I got on my phone. Thank you all!