Bunny Yeager – The Queen of Pinup Q&A
You have been called “The Queen of Pinup” what is your reaction to this?
I had no idea I was given that title. I guess if people thought I
as good at what I did, I accept the complement.
You were the first to model a bikini in 1949, what was the public’s
reaction to this?
At the time I was entering a lot of beauty contests, but they didn’t
allow us to wear 2 piece suits. When I did wear the 2 piece suits I
designed back then, they weren’t as skimpy as the French suits, so
people weren’t shocked.
What made you want to be a model?
I loved going to the movies, seeing the glamorous women, and I wanted to
be like them. Also my cousin in Pittsburgh was a successful model and
I really looked up to her.
How did you begin working behind the lens? How did you learn your skills?
I went to photography school where I learned to take photos and
develop prints as well. To get modeling work you had to give away
photos, and I figured this way I could do my own.
Who’s been your favorite model to photograph?
Actually there were two, Bettie Page, a brunette, and Maria Stinger, a
What was it about the “Pin up” woman that enticed you to photograph them?
I was interested in making money and people liked my photos, so that’s
why I started to shoot. The difference between me and most pin-up
photographers, was that I always focused on bringing out the very best
in every girl, not just shooting what they looked like when they
arrived. I looked at details that a lot of men never noticed, which
made a seemingly plain girl look beautiful.
You are renowned for shooting some of the most iconic photos of Bettie Page, what was it like to work with her?
It was a joy, she let me be the boss and always posed exactly the way
I asked, always trying to please me. I know she enjoyed working with
me, because we laughed a lot, as we made history together.
Are there any other models you’ve worked with that stand out like her?
Diane Weber was another model that I loved, but I only got to shoot
her once because she lived in California.
You’ve had the privilege of shooting one of the most iconic bond girls, Honey Rider how was that?
United Artists hired me to fly to Jamaica and shoot Ursula Andress on
the set of Dr. No, which resulted in the famous image of her coming
out of the water in her bikini. I also shot the then unknown Sean
Connery on set. I even shot some of the local beauties there.
Being a female photographer shooting Pin up gives your work an entirely
different feel than your male counterparts, do you have a special approach
when shooting your models to make them feel at ease?
One thing, I never touch them, but instruct them how to pose. Don’t be
bossy, keep the atmosphere light and cheerful.
What is your opinion on the fashion industry today?
I don’t like many of the fashions of today, but things change quickly,
so I might like what’s coming. I don’t like baggy clothes, or overly
revealing outfits. I like more classic styles.
Do you find that the models and fashion industry of today has lost its feminine sexual edge, as opposed to the girls of the golden years?
Perhaps, but it’s not the model who chooses her look, but the
designers and photographers.
How do you think that the role of the “Pin up” girl today has changed from what it was back in the 50’s?
I don’t know what a pin-up is these days, they don’t stand out like
they used to. To pin up a photo it has to be worthy.
Did you ever think that the work you were doing would go on to influence modern culture?
I may have had some fleeting thought about it’s impact, but never
imagined what it has become. Fifty or sixty years later these
photographs are still getting attention.
Are there any fashion models today you would like to photograph?
I like some of the Russian models like Natalia Vodianova.
What can we expect from Bunny in 2013?
A new book, a documentary film about my career, my swimwear line from
Bruno Banani and my first gallery show in New York.