Michael Malak of MALAK Photography (OMP Member #211561) has always had a love for art ever since he started taking courses in drawing and photography in high school. Taking pictures behind-the-scenes at photo shoots for lensmen Larry Dickerson and Thomas Denlick led Michael to becoming a photographer himself.
That first assignment also led to Michael joining OneModelPlace.com. “Larry is a longtime friend who asked me to open up an account on OMP when I was doing website design and photo retouching. He thought it would be a good place for me to meet other photographers and models. Without OneModelPlace.com, I would have never met Thomas, who asked me to participate in his personal photography book project called “Contemporary Pinup Photography”. I also met the amazing model Jessamyn Rose through OMP. She is truly one of the best models that I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”
He cites several influences that helped him find his own photographic style. “I am inspired by 1940s Hollywood glamour, WWII pinup images, and film noir. My all-time biggest influence in photography is George Hurrell. Other photographers that have influenced me are Stephen Thorn and Robert Alvarado, who both have very different styles that I admire.”
The Southern California resident prides himself on his ability to look at a model and determine right away if she has the look for 1940s pinup style. When he first met Claire Sinclair, he knew she was a natural to be photographed in classic Hollywood style. And he was right — the classic beauty would go on to become the Playboy Playmate of the Year for 2011.
Michael met Claire Sinclair through her father Tom. ”He reached out to me via my personal website and told me that Claire was a fan of my work. He asked if I would be interested in shooting the now Playboy Playmate, Miss October 2010 and PMOY 2011 hopeful. He had mentioned that she loved my Hollywood glamour and WWII style pinups.”
The photographer felt it was an amazing opportunity to shoot with Claire Sinclair, along with her sister, Playboy Model Angela Riccio, and mother Irene Riccio. “I was also honored to meet Claire’s father Thomas Riccio. The family is amazing to work with, and I truly consider myself blessed to call them my friends. During our shoot, we were also being filmed for a reality TV show which should be released in the upcoming months.”
Michael is currently working on a coffee table book called “Wings of Angels, A Tribute to the Art of World War II Pinup and Aviation.” Claire Sinclair, Jessamyn Rose, and Angela Riccio will all be featured in the book, along with other top models including Kay O’Hara, Brooke Newton, Tala Marie, and Kacie Marie.
The motivation for this project was due to the loss of his grandfather in February 2011, Henry Michael Malak, a WWII veteran of the US Navy. “He fought in WWII in the Pacific Theater. I am dedicating the book to his memory and the rest of our WWII veterans who have paid the ultimate price for freedom. I am also donating a portion of the calendar and book proceeds to the WWII veterans.”
Michael would also like to thank his sponsors for helping make this project a reality. “My sponsors are Yanks Air Museum, Secrets in Lace, Jon Hul, Pinupexpo, Betty Page Clothing, The Pinup Files, The Models Closet, LTW Custom Cosmetics, My Baby Jo, and Ellie shoes.” A calendar will be released prior to the book release this year.
The Canon shooter has some advice for photographers just starting out. “Pick a style of photography that you truly love. Be the very best that you can be at it. Find out all that you can to master that style of photography. Stay the course. Never waiver. Believe in yourself. Keep your dream alive.”
He also has several suggestions for models who are interested in shooting pinup styles. “Posing for pinups can be very difficult, because it is the capturing of an exaggeration of an expression. Viewing such artists as Alberto Vargas and Gil Elvgren and emulating those historic pinup poses will help you create a foundation for posing for pinup photography. Be the best that you can be when it comes to posing — it makes for a very easy shoot, and results in photographs that you will truly love and admire.”
Michael is very grateful for the support he has received throughout his career. “I would like to thank OMP for providing an online community where the ease of navigation and support systems are clearly in place, and for the constant promotion and recognition of their online members. I would also like to thank my girlfriend Tara for the reassurance and belief in me as a photographer and artist.”
See more of Michael’s work in his OMP Portfolio
Images: Claire Sinclair (top), Tara Ferrari (bottom)