Pinup Provocateur: Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom

These days we are rarely without a camera, yet how often do we hold an actual photograph? We flip through streams of jpegs, on Tumblr, Instagram and the rest, we “like,” reblog and create virtual slideshows. We get daily dispatches from friends on alpine treks, course-by-course accounts of elaborate meals, and inspect carefully curated interiors. It’s so easy to create an evocative filter that we’ve become suspicious of what we’re looking at. It was not always thus.

Bunny Yeager’s photographs are direct and bracing. They remind us of the basic power of controlling the image and the elemental act of provocation. It should be mentioned that she was a pinup girl and named “world’s prettiest photographer” of 1953. You can enjoy her handiwork in the new book Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin-Up Photography’s Golden Era, (Rizzoli).

In the 1950’s photography could rightly be a provocative act. Being photographed was an event not a default setting. You dressed (or undressed) and vamped for it. Bunny’s shots of Bettie Page will certainly be familiar to aficionados of the genre, but the shots of herself are just as engaging. She explored the power of the medium from both sides of the lens.

When Bunny appeared on the urbane television program What’s My Line in 1957, she was asked if both men and women could enjoy her services. She correctly answered yes, and the panel was stumped. She defied conventions then, and her work still focuses our attention. It’s about women in costumes with contours, and the attraction remains decades after the fact. —DAVID COGGINS

Comments on “Pinup Provocateur: Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom

    douglason August 31, 2012 @ 12:51 PM:

    After all, Cindy Sherman is following someone…

    Smithon August 31, 2012 @ 8:12 PM:

    Oh…so nice on the ladies front.
    I am inspired.

    Slim Paleyon September 1, 2012 @ 10:17 PM:

    You have just inspired me to plug in the wonderful printer that I received for Christmas, yet never use. You are so right. Time for tangible memories again!

    RKWon September 3, 2012 @ 1:56 AM:

    The first photo looks like it could have been taken yesterday. Beautiful.

    Palon September 3, 2012 @ 3:15 AM:


    Jameson September 5, 2012 @ 7:35 PM:

    First picture amazing. May I as where you found digital image? Would love to try and order print but no idea where to find or name of image

    Hughon September 6, 2012 @ 8:37 PM:

    Would also love to find a copy of that first image – any ideas yet?

    unitedstyleon September 9, 2012 @ 9:16 AM:

    I guess I really am more of a brunettes kind of guy, because when I saw the fourth photo I thought, “that desk is amazing!”

Comments are closed.