The Secrets of Vintage Photography – Chrissy Sparks of Dollhouse

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Swann: You shouldn’t stare. James Bond: Well, you shouldn’t look like that.” – Spectre


Based in a spacious and comfortable studio in the very centre of Birmingham England, Dollhouse specialises in pin-up and vintage boudoir photography. A boutique company who offer spellbinding makeover photoshoots for ladies of all ages and sizes. From pin-up to modern lingerie, burlesque to boudoir, avant garde to Hollywood Glamour… and everything in between. Carrying on our weekly binge on pin-ups and burlesque, we got to speak to Chrissy Sparks (sounds hot doesn’t she?) the photographer of Dollhouse, of whose work has graced countless books and magazines.


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How do you manage to get such amazing location shots? Are the majority of sets in your Birmingham studio?

I very rarely shoot on location as I prefer to work in my studio where all my equipment is (some of which is not very portable) – instead, I produce highly detailed Photoshop composites to create amazing digital locations. By creating digital locations there are no restrictions for creativity and it allows me to produce dramatically different images across each client’s shoot, as well as featuring locations that are unachievable  – such as outer space!

How did you manage to accrue such an amazing wardrobe, it says over £100,000 worth on your site?

Yes, it has been the biggest and most expensive (ongoing) shopping spree of my life! The ‘Wardrobe of Dreams’ (as our clients call it) is something I have amassed over the period of 3 years that DOLLHOUSE has been in business – it’s a mixture of heavy personal investment, as well as designer’s kindly giving garments to us – usually because they want to see their pieces feature in our work for exposure and marketing reasons.


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What’s it like touring the US? Do you tie it in with any burlesque shows or events?

The US Tours always sell out very quickly and are a whirlwind every time! I do tend to catch a few shows when I am in Vegas, my favourites are Absinthe and Zumanity and I have photographed ladies from both shows.

How long does a shoot normally take, from start to finish including editing pictures?

Shoots vary dramatically, as does the production time. Sometimes I spend up to 6 hours on a single image creating Photoshop composites.


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Your team is all women, is that deliberate to put your clients at ease or just a happy coincidence when it came to hiring staff?

A happy coincidence – although we have worked with male stylists on some of our commercial model and magazine shoots.

Which Bond girl would you like to shoot for DollHouse?

I am not a huge Bond fan – my dream woman to photograph would be Dita Von Teese.


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What are your most usual requests from your clients? Do they all want a certain look, to look like a certain model or use a certain location etc?

My clients are usually heavily led by what they see in my existing work – a common request is the hourglass look to the figure in editing, as well as the other usual commercial beauty attributes such as flawless skin, a pert bust/bottom and silky hair (all of which I usually enhance in post production). Another popular request is to make ladies slimmer although I do not like to edit someone so much that they are not recognisable of course. 

In terms of location, although certain styles/looks we roll out are more popular than others, there is never a dull moment in producing the work I do as every woman (and her taste) is different. Variety is the spice of life they say!

Email Chrissy here, to book yourself or your lady friend in for a shoot today.


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