Comic Book Divas pulls up a chair with Joe Rivera and Earl Walker about their photography studio “Riverwalk Pinup Studios“,; they talk about pinups, cosplay, and about working with some of the hottest models in Chicago. Plus they give us a hint of what they have planned on future projects with Comic Book Divas and other projects
Q: Tell us a bit about RiverWalk Pinup Studios.
JR&EW: RiverWalk Studios is a photo studio which specializes in themed photo shoots ranging from Classic WWII Pin Up, Sci-Fi, horror, etc. We also do head shots, portraits, and group shoots or on-location shoots. We will do private shoots as well.
JR&EW: We strive in getting to know our clients, and working with their needs. We want to know what they want out of their images and we work closely with them to make sure they are getting exactly that.
Some clients are laid back and others are more specific, but we try to accommodate everyone.
Q: How did the team of Joe Rivera and Earl Walker come about?
JR&EW: The team of River (Joe Rivera) and Walk (Earl Walker) goes back over 30 years ago. Earl and I met in 1st grade. We became good friends soon after, and the friendship grew over the months, years, and decades, even distance wasn’t a problem. For a time I lived in Spain and Earl was still in IL.
We kept in touch via snail mail, email, phone, etc. Eventually, visiting each other every year, after I moved back to the states. At first, RiverWalk Studios was collaboration in a comic book series. Then it grew into film.
RiverWalk Studios has been going pretty strong for 5 years now. We’ve finally reached a landmark of over 500 fans on Facebook. And we’re looking forward to the next 500.
Q: You have done quite a few cosplay model shoots; what themes do you like to do when it comes to cosplay, and why do you think cosplay is so popular with women today?
JR&EW: As for themes, I would say WWII, Sci Fi, Fairytale princesses, Secretaries, and more. I’d love to do a steampunk or some other creative cosplay shoot.
When it comes to women, I think it empowers them. Many TV shows, Anime, and movies highlight women in a stronger role now, than 20 years ago when most of these ‘cosplaying’ ladies were children being taught that ‘one day my prince will come’.
They realized that was BS and started to notice characters like “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”, Sarah Connors from the Terminator movies, Ripley from Aliens, and so on and so on, it was around that time that Anime started coming over to the states and showing many of us that women could hold a gun, kick ass, but still fall romantically in love with someone.
Cosplay is so much more than just wearing a costume, it represents a part of us, an individual we identify with, and I’m thankful it’s here!
Q: What kind of cosplay shoots would you like to do in the future?
JR: River: Hm, that’s a tough and good question. I know that I’ve wanted to do an evil villainess cosplay, like the Evil Queen from Snow White or Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. But what I’d absolutely love to do, would be a sort of “armored” type shoot. Basically our ladies would be in a powersuit with armor, lights, jet packs, huge blasters, etc.
But the resources to do that are quite daunting so that would be a project for waaaayy in the future. Otherwise, my ideas for projects come about when I’m inspired by something I’ll see on TV, in an ad, listening to music, something.
And I’ll envision one of our girls with a specific look or costume.
EW: Walk: I’d like to do something crazy outrageous fashion in the style of “Lady Gaga”. I’d also like to do an “All American Girl” shoot which shows the beauty of women without makeup or costumes. Not really cosplay, I know, but showing the natural beauty of a woman.
I’d also like to do a Post-Apocolyptic shoot with women fighting mutants or giant robots. Women fighting ‘River-terminators’.
JR: *Groans* *SMH*
Q: RiverWalk Studios also does WWII pinup shoots; this also seems like a growing trend in photography why do you feel it’s become so popular and do you think it helps educate a younger generation of WWII?
JR&EW: That’s a great question; yes I do think it educates a younger generation, especially women. WWII Pin Up, Rosie Riveters, Suffragettes, Pan Am Stewardesses (much later time period), all were part of a woman’s movement early in the 1900’s.
My hope is that they will understand the significance regarding pin up.
As for a growing trend in photography and why it’s become so popular. I would actually consider Pin Up as “American History” Cosplay. Women of any size, shape, ethnicity, could come and dress up as a WWII pin up girl.
In American history Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, Native Americans, middle-east-Indian, etc. fought against the axis forces. So why can’t they be pin ups if they so choose? Especially in our day and age I’d like to think pin up is becoming more and more modernized. And I think many women love the classy look of the pin up girl from the 40’s that they want to look and feel that allure of glamour.
I can’t blame them; there is something gorgeous and breathtaking seeing a lady from that time period.
Q: You did a “Devil” photo shoot and a “Secretary” photo shoot what was the idea behind these ideas?
JR&EW: LOL, you have me blushing a bit. Well, both themes came from very different thought inspirations. So I’ll start with the Devil Girl theme.
Back In the 60’s and 70’s there was an artist named “Coop” and he illustrated the first “Devil Girl” Pin Ups. They were a little graphic at times, showing a lot of skin and posing in very lurid manners. But it was popular with biker gangs of the time. I have always thought the devil girl was very sexy and decided to create my own, merging the idea of “Coop” with the style of “Olivia De Berardinis” another inspiration of mine, and create a devil girl which was beautiful, sexy, and suggestive in her poses.
As for the “Secretary” theme, women in dress suits, pencil skirts, heels, stockings, blouses, etc., they have always turned my head. Seeing a woman dressed for work and owning that look of confidence, has always been a turn on for me.
This is my nod to those women, who take an hour, or longer, to get ready for work. So while it says Secretary, it could be any woman who dresses in the corporate world that is still dominated by men, but there are more and stronger women coming into that world and they look incredibly hot!
They know men are checking them out and they find power in that. I say, “You’re right!”
Q: River you are a member of the 501st and a Star Wars fan; you have done a few Star Wars Themed photoshoots, what would you like to do in a Star Wars themed shoot that you haven’t done yet?
JR&EW I’d love to get more girls in armor. That’s always hard as most of the armor we have access to are meant for guys much larger and taller than them. So we do try to have some members lend us their armor, but I don’t like asking all the time. Otherwise, I’d love to do more Alien stuff like the sexy Twi’Leks, or another Togruta. That would make for something very different.
Q: You are doing a series of photo shoots with Comic Book Divas; what made you think of working with Comic Book Divas?
JR&EW: CBD is a great comic company and everyone of their titles empower a female heroine. Unfortunately many comics that are mainstream have male leads and not much female leads.
Females are deemed emotionally unstable in many of their books, needing or looking toward a man to solve everything. CBD goes the opposite way, making the females stronger and not in need of men to always save the day. But let’s not forget the ‘cute’ factor. Artists that work for CBD create some cute illustrations of some of the heroes of CBD Comics.
Bottom line, CBD empowers women, and that’s what RiverWalk Studios wants to do as well. So we support them in that endeavor.
Q: For women that are in or thinking about getting into the modeling industry what advise can you give them from a photographer’s point of view?
JR&EW: This is a tough one. A good attitude helps immensely! It shows on the camera that you want to be there, that you’re having fun at the shoot. Network with others, whether it’s other photographers, models, event coordinators etc. is for exposure. It’s good to have that reputation that you are willing to work and a delight to work with. That reputation is gained through your exposure.
Until your career takes off, make sure you have other means of income.
Q: What can we expect to see from RiverWalk Pinup Studios in the future?
JR&EW: River: In May we opened up our 2nd studio in Hoffman Estates, IL. Now we have TWICE the shooting POWER!
JR: We’ve always wanted to do a photo shoot based on the epic story “Elfquest”. We’re planning on doing that later this year. 2013 is going to be a big year for RWS. We’re getting ready to launch our official website. We’re looking forward to attending Military History Fest. And we would like to attend Wizard World.
Q: Where can people find out more about your studio?
JR&EW: Currently we have our FaceBook Fan Page. if you end up sending a friend request to our studio page, our staff will send you a message with a link to the fan page. Make sure we can send you messages via FaceBook; if we can’t then we can’t give you the link to the fan page.
If anyone is on Model Mayhem. Look up MM number: 1065276 and check out our work there.
We are also on Twitter: @RiverWalkPinUp
And finally, if anyone would like to order a print, schedule a shoot, or just say “What’s up!” We have email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to visit the Riverwalk Pinup Studios photo gallery; especially the ones mentioned in the interview:
Comic Book Divas Photo Shoot
WWII Photo Shoot
Devil Girls Photo Shoot
Secretary Photo Shoot