Kristin Chalmers Photography » the blog of Kristin Chalmers Photography

A Study of Burlesque – My ongoing work with the burlesque community


During the “slow season” for wedding photographers – aka the winter months when people in New England don’t normally get married – I try to challenge myself and step outside the box. Basically I give myself a photography assignment. What is great about this is for me, it that it is a fabulous way to learn new tricks that I can incorporate into my weddings, portraits and other work. I can do what I want, my rules, and I don’t have to worry if I mess it up because I’m doing it for me.

Last year, I attended The Great Burlesque Exposition as a guest of my friend – and former bride – Angie Pontani. She is a fabulous woman and big time Burlesque dancer. I basically decided that I would shoot that expo as a documentary project, kind of like if some magazine gave me the assignment to capture the story of behind the scenes, etc. So THIS year, I was contacted by the Expo inviting me to participate as a photographer again. This time, I decided to shake things up and do something completely different.

I decided on fine art portraits of the performers. I would light this in a way I had never lit a portrait before. I wanted to capture the beauty of the burlesque community without doing the typical “photo booth” kind of vibe. I wanted to light it and pretend it was going to be published in Vanity Fair. So I researched some lighting techniques and armed with my trusty friend and assistant, Winnie Man, we created a mini portrait studio in the vendor lounge at the Expo. The hours I was given was challenging because everyone attending at that time slot either wasn’t in costume, or was attending a class or lecture. So out of the 4 hours I was set up – I really only had about 20 minutes of actual subjects hanging out. Winnie chased down any person that was wearing, feathers, sparkly things, or basically just standing out in the crowd. It didn’t’ even need to be performers but just people who were dressed to impress. I have to tell you, I am so thrilled with the results.

My hope is to continue to do this series with the New England Burlesque community. So if you are part of the Burlesque world and live in the Boston area, please reach out. I would love to add you to my portrait study. My longer term goal is to set this up for my friend Angie’s big time The New York Burlesque Festival this fall.


Winnie and her husband as my test models!


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