Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Glamour Shots

Note: I don't actually know any of the lucky stars of these Glamour Shots portraits, we were simply introduced through our mutual friend Google Images. If any of them are of you, well, then...I'm sorry. On so many levels.

It's always been a dream of mine to shell out fifty bucks for some underpaid mall clerk with three weeks beauty school experience to JonBenet Ramsey-ify me for photographic posterity. Call me sentimental, but I just can't think of any way I'd rather be remembered than wearing a feather boa, my wash-out perm blowing in the wind machine-generated breeze. In soft focus, of course.

In the 80s and 90s, Glamour Shots photography studio franchises were cropping up at malls across the country. Glamour Shots studios convinced us that all we needed to infuse a little glamor into our lives was a string of fake pearls, a cowboy hat, and a blurred camera lens, prompting women everywhere to whip out their faux leather checkbook wallets for a piece of the action. There was just something inexplicably irresistible about the opportunity to appear back-lit in an off the shoulder sequined gown.

The Glamour Shots experience was intended to make everyday average women feel like models at a photo shoot. For some clients this was more of a stretch than others, but our chipper mall stylists were more than up for the challenge. After a few hours in hair and makeup, anyone could look fabulous. Or at least that was the idea.

Unfortunately, this notion worked far better in theory than in practice. The studio's main clientele was made up of middle aged women, most of whom sought to take some non-racy but nevertheless boudoir-esque photos for their husbands. Glamour Shots took a distinctly one-size-fits-all approach to their model-style photo shoots, meaning their stylists were probably only trained in a single technique.

That must have been the case, as I'm not quite sure how else you could account for the sweeping uniformity of looks for Glamour Shots clients* nationwide. There were a few not-so-secret ingredients that formed the underpinnings of every Glamour Shots session throughout the decade, the most obvious of which was the enormous mall hair. It shouldn't have come as such a surprise considering the shoots did indeed take place within the confines of a mall environment, but I doubt any of these housewives went in asking for the Tiffany.

The next ingredient in our Glamour Shots recipe for alleged success was the ubiquitous presence of all things sparkly. Be it enormous earrings, a sequined jacket, or a bedazzled headpiece, each Glamour Shots studio followed the mantra of shiny equals universally flattering. It's a well known fact that not every woman is meant to wear a gold lame gown. When paired with oversized glasses and a portly figure, these dress-up implements could be more of a curse than the gift they'd claimed to be on the certificate in your Mother's Day card.

The final and most critical element of any Glamour Shot worth its weight in retouching equipment was the almighty signature pose. Aside from the usual hand-shelf-chin-support pose we saw at photography studios everywhere, we had some distinct poses that were pure GS through and through.

There were a few poses in particular that these studios were especially partial to, most often the over the shoulder smoldering gaze. Again, while this may have been a prime way to showcase the aesthetically pleasing attributes of an actual fashion model, it had a uniquely comical effect when applied to your grandmother.

The over-the-shoulder smolder

The head tilt was another popular choice, giving the subject a look somewhere between deep thought and mild confusion:

The Head Tilt

And of course, our classic "grab-part-of-your-shirt/feather boa" pose:

The Jacket Nabber

In the luckiest of client cases, you may have been subjected to all three, also known as the Triple Crown. Okay, I just made that up, but it would have been a totally apt descriptor in its time. I'm standing behind it. Actually, I'm crouching behind it in a three-quarter profile with a half head tilt, but same difference.

The holy grail of Glamour Shots posing: with our pose powers combined, who knows what we might unleash in this smirking housewife

As children, many of us begged tirelessly for our own opportunity at being shot glamorously, and many of our parents were wise enough to deny us this fleeting pleasure. The desire for these photos peaked right about at the same pubescent time as the height of adolescent awkwardness, meaning these photos would be a testament to our largest glasses and most prominent acne.

Especially in the midst of the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, it was considered less than good form to doll up your daughter in all the finery mall photography studios could muster, particularly if they involved a sparkly cowboy hat of any kind. Pageant moms may have embraced the opportunity with open arms, but these over done-up preteens were at best unsettling to the general public.

Cute kid, or future Enquirer cover? You decide.

For those parents who gave in to their teenage children's whinings for Glamour Shots, congratulations. Your scrapbook contains the ultimate blackmail tool against your child. Daughter forget your birthday? Time to take out that scanner and release these bejeweled cowboy hat-tipping beauties into the Facebook wild. There is probably nothing in the world more certain to humiliate them than an unwelcome trip down a softly focused memory lane paved with sequins and hot rollers.

To my loyal readers, I pose to you** the following challenge. If any of you (or your briefly glamorous family members) ever had Glamour Shots taken, I implore you to email them to childrenofthe90s@gmail.com. Please, sacrifice yourself on the altar of shame and allow others to join in your humorous commiseration. I promise to give them the ultimate Children of the 90s mocking treatment and to open it up to reader votes for the best Glamor Shot. I might even throw in a prize. So get to it, children of the 90s. Track down those embarrassing mall studio photographs, throw 'em on the scanner, and let the fun begin.

*Now known as "victims"
**Get it? Pose?


KatiePerk said...

I think I might have just wet my pants a little at "over the shoulder smolder"....

Anonymous said...

I always begged my mother to do Glamour shots but she would never let me. I am still a little mad about it til this day. LOL



Mr. Condescending said...

Hahaha oh CotN I laughed so hard at this! The picture where they put a couples faces in a wine glass is fun too!

Melanie's Randomness said...

As someone very guilty of the "head tilt" this looks hilarious. Ohh the hair. Love the glamour shots. hehe.

Sadako said...

Oh, man, the jacket nabber is brutal!

jenn said...

oh man - i wanted one of these SO badly, but mom always said no. thank you mom. THANK YOU.

Court said...

LOL!!!!!!!!!!! I love that you said 'if any of these are of you, I'm sorry on os many levels'


Glamour shots. Ha! My favorite pose was the large hat and the hand popping the collar- you know which one I'm talking about! lol

Katie said...

I'm sad to admit that I had Glamour Shots, twice. Once at the Glamour Shots studio in the mall (which is now a Hot Topic I believe -- oh how the times have changed) and then for charity. Yes in my tiny little hometown, organizations thought that offering glamour shots as a way to get donations was a great idea. Great post, brings back lots of memories!

brad said...

the head tilt still works on me. nothing says "lovin'" like mild confusion.

Couture Carrie said...

These pics are priceless! Love this post ~ Glamour Shots brings back fond early 90s memories!


The K Family said...

WOW! I am laughing my ass off. These are hysterical. I sooo remember these. I actually saw the studio at the mall by my house not too long ago. Hmmm...do I dare?

Linda said...

My aunts got their pictures taken together there. I think my dad has the picture in his wallet still. It's pretty funny.

Laura said...

this is hilarious! I love it!


Teach.Workout.Love said...

ahahha i hated that shit!

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

My Mom didn't let me do Glamour Shots or a perm. Thanks Mom!

Sadako said...

Also is it just me or does jacket nabber look like Chris Farley in drag? :D

courtney said...

I got glamour shots when I was about 8...looking back they kinda look like kiddie porn...or Jean Benet.

My grandparents actually have them in their house.

Anonymous said...

Man, the problem is, there are companies that STILL takes these kinds of pics.

At least they're a little more modern.

Jenny @ Practically Perfect... said...

I still remember when one of my friends did this in the 7th grade. We all thought it was so cool! She definitely had the big hair, the feather boa, waaaay too much make-up, and extra long fake nails. Yikes! I'm so glad that I never did these - thought of them showing up on Facebook is too much :-)

LWLH said...

My mom had those done..I'll have to see if she still has the pics! :)

Andhari said...

I was too small when it's popular but I think I had one or two. Not this charming, of course. The big hairs are epic!

Mr. Condescending said...

I had to revisit this post, I love it!

Unknown said...

I think every thing what we get must to be with glamour, the elegance and the style always going to give a great image to every one.
Actually i went to a hotel with my boyfriend, he usually buy viagra so his sexual development is wonderful, but i was impressive for the glamour of the place, absolutely beautiful.

Unknown said...

These photos are hilarious, though it's a shame that people think they are synonymous with the Glamour Shots of today. My family goes every year, and I love them enough to contribute to customer glamour shots reviews :)

Unknown said...

So I’m the odd woman out? Mine turned out beautifully. I was actually cruising the web to see if I could secure some copies from my original shoot in Sacramento in 1990-91. Loved it!

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