Issue: 01/2019
Author: Katharina Stenger, Universität Saarbrücken & Olivier Rieter

Retro modeling is an example of active nostalgia. An effect of pastness is created by the model and the photographer. The photos are ‘loaded’ with meanings, referring to visual culture from the past, like Hollywood movies, advertisements and pin up paintings. Thus a version of the past is constructed that contributes to the identities of both creators and viewers, individually and within a social group. This interdisciplinary article combines qualitative and quantitative research methods to dive into the psychological and social value of active nostalgia in retro photo shoots. Results of photograph analyses provide an overview of diverse retro styles in photo shoots where the model slips into different roles. However, empirical results show that the majority of retro photo models rather play with nostalgic elements in the „here and now“ instead of truly identifying with historical realities. Overall, active nostalgia is associated with the construction of positive emotions concerning the past.

Keywords: Nostalgia, Modelling, Retro, Pin-up, Trend, 50ies, Past and Present, Psychology

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