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History of The Bikini in Photographs

Updated on January 1, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs!

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

"Though the bikini shocked when it appeared on French beaches in 1947, its origins date back millennia. Depictions of bikini-like garments appear at the Chalcolithic site of Çatalhöyük, and two-piece bikini-like garments were worn by women for athletic purposes in Ancient Greece as far back as 1400 BC. Roman mosaic artwork in Sicily, dubbed "Bikini Girls" and dating back to the reign of Diocletian (286-305 AD) gained significant archeological renown, and Roman statues of Venus in a bikini were found elsewhere. In the modern era, the first functional two-piece swimsuit was designed in 1913 by Carl Jantzen. Australian swimmer-performer Annette Kellerman was arrested in 1907 for wearing a two-piece. Later it was made popular by pin-up girls like swimmer-actress Esther Williams, and actresses Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner.

The modern bikini was invented by French engineer Louis Réard in 1946. He named it after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, the site of an atomic bomb test on July 1, 1946." Wikipedia

So you think nothing much about the modern marvel of inventions or what is more often than not called a bikini, thongs in some circles.

Perhaps there is more to know and learn about this often very tiny invention, including the fact that it is not as "modern" as you may think. Maybe the following will help you get more of an appreciation for this tiny, awe inspiring, trouble causing, often very colorful and not shy at all

If after reading this you think that it is an excuse to go trotting to the beach and start snapping away at anyone wearing one, it is not, at least not yet.

Some research will lead you to visit some ancient ruins where you can see that these tiny pieces of cloth were in fact being used as early as ancient Greece and ancient Rome where women often donned then when engaging in some sports, a tradition that continues to this day, especially f you are a fan of the modern Olympic sports of beach volleyball.

The project will involve tracing through photos the evolution of the garment or rather the lack of clothing from its earliest usage and here is where visiting some museums and ruins will reveal their rather antiquity birth.

Your goal is to photographically document the complete history of the bikini from its earliest depictions to its modern contemporary creations and like any piece of clothing it has a history.

Anything that is worn today started in some form or another much earlier than we have come to believe; from shoes to purses, jewelry to gowns they all have their roots in years past and the bikini is no exception although it is very likely that it was called something else when it first made its appearance in society.

Who knew that an island where a modern weapon of destruction had its birth would be the inspiration for this trendy beach wear, and yet we associate the name with destruction and with a beautiful creation at the same time.

One thing to remember is that is would be easier to hire models or get friends and relatives to serve as your models as it is very unlikely that you will get many people at a public beach to simply pose for you regardless of how many time you explain the purpose of the photo shoot. You are more than likely to be thought off as something or someone else if you decide to try this route, especially when it comes to very small samples.

This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired
This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired | Source
Some models are more of a fashion statement CC BY 2.0
Some models are more of a fashion statement CC BY 2.0 | Source

Aim to be as representative of the fashion trend as possible and record as many images as possible. Later you can be selective about which images are the best and discard those that are not good. Be you own worst critic.

As far as obtaining samples of years past you can find some samples of most types at some specialty shops, some second hand stores, and on some, but not many, antique stores.

A better idea is for you to try to have some models made for you or to secure the assistance of some theater companies or television and movie production companies which may have them already in stock.

One good idea is to approach a college or university's art or drama department and seek the aid of the staff and students.

Most often they will volunteer since it allows them to gain knowledge and experience and the teachers look at it as a way of teaching concepts and real world applications.

Besides it gets everyone out of the classroom as well as introducing another networking opportunity for the photographer.

All it will usually take to have people help you and participate is to provide them with copies of the work and most students will gladly make their own clothing, in this case bikinis.

The same is true if you need make up and hair professionals. Most will donate time and effort in exchange for credit and future recommendations.

What to do with all of these images and your hard work after the shoot is complete depends entirelly on you and what was the motivation behind the project in the first place.

Most of these shots, if they are portrayed accuratly and are representational of the correct time frame, can be used for book publishing efforts, and in some advertising campaigns.

Motivational or "de-motivational" posters or campaigns can sometimes also use these types of images. Off course don't overlook the fact that most photographic stock houses are always on the look out for new concepts and themes..

Calendar publishers can also always use new themes or those that are popular and photographs of beautiful women in bikinis are always popular.

If the project turns out like it should then it adds another dimension on which you can base your sales pitch.

Colors and logos can be used to represent almost anything CC BY 2.0
Colors and logos can be used to represent almost anything CC BY 2.0 | Source

One more thing before I forget, if for some reasons your images do not turn out as you expect them to be, plus you believe that they are not really suitable for submission to any publisher or any of the many photography stock houses.

It could be because they are not unique enough or the angles are not right or for whatever reason they just don't seem perfect, or maybe you were not able to obtain samples of the earlier models or could not make some much less visit an ancient tourist location where early images are to be found.

If anything like this happens then don't feel bad or despair or feel that the entire project was a failure and that nothing was accomplished.

Just keep in mind all the fun that you had in the the name of the art, and after all, you look at FMH for the articles... right?

Want some more photography articles with plenty of ideas and many more tips?

Materials differ as much as styles CC By 2.0
Materials differ as much as styles CC By 2.0 | Source

© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      alancaster149: Thanks...I prefer the first one !

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Great stuff again, Luis. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, unless they're wearing the 'latest' beach styles! They had the weather for it, didn't they, and you can't get much more minimalist than image No.8! Style icon!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Silver O; Thank you

    • Silver Q profile image

      Silver Q 5 years ago

      Wow! So bikinis are really old? Very interesting! I would have never thought they had been around for so long.

    • Ugly Honest profile image

      Ugly Honest 5 years ago from Within the New York/DC Megalopolis

      Nice Tone.... Informative ....The graphics, well, they speak for themselves Thanks !!!

    • Jordanwalker39 profile image

      Jordanwalker39 5 years ago from NC

      WOW! This was a sweet read. Didn't know that there was such a history behind bikinis. I didn't know that they were around in ancient Greece, learn something new everyday.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      Well, I don't look at Playboy but this hub is really interesting. I have pictures of relatives in the 1920s who are wearing this bathing suits that cover practically their whole bodies, so I had no idea bikinis had such a long history. Up and interesting.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Ah, yes, the teeny, weeny, itsy . . . polka dot bikinis of when we were young, such fun!!! So long ago.

    • Jenna Pope profile image

      Jenna Pope 5 years ago from Southern California

      Well done, my friend. Voted up!