Believe it or not, the history of pin-up girls dates back to the late 1800s. It wasn’t Playboy, or Sports Illustrated that created the pin-up girl, these cultural layouts actually were more apart of the theater business than magazines.
Burlesque performers and actresses were known to handout photographic advertisements as business cards to promote their shows
Aside from Sports Illustrated use of models to sell their Swimsuit issue, pin-up models caught fire in the ‘80s and ‘90s, mostly in car magazines. You’d think that in the day of #metoo, things would change in that regard, but it hasn’t.
Sure, it could be labeled as a shameless way of promoting goods and services, or a story or a cover of a magazine, but the idea behind the pin-up model is actually very clever. The model is the hook that catches one’s attention. It’s click bait. If an advertiser, or publisher can get you to look at their pin-up model then the concept achieved success. That's the purpose behind using models, both male and female, the more eye-balls on the product, the better.
Is it old school? Chauvinistic? I don’t know if it’s that simple. Marketers continue to use models and there is just no getting away from the fact that sexy images sell. Who am I to argue.
I've photographed hundreds of models posing with cars and car products for countless national newsstand magazines, and it was always considered an essential part of the niche magazine automotive publishing business. However, about the mid-1990s, I stopped the practice.
The reason behind my sudden departure was basically this: I had strong opinions as to what readers wanted to see, and what I wanted readers to understand about the subject, not focus on the glamour of an image.
Models might be an attractive lure, but to me it was also a distraction that lowered the credibility of the content.