Pinup Pageant Guide: Online Pageants 101

The spicy lung virus brought about many weird and wonderful things in a time of uncertainty, although many events were cancelled or postponed, it was incredible to see how humans adapted, embraced and created new technologies and we learnt how to keep in touch, adjust and try new things. One thing I never thought I’d have to even consider a result of a pandemic is an online pinup pageant but here we are, in 2023 with online pageants still being a thing. As I’ve already created The Pinup Pageant Guide which is an intensive 10-part series (also available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure), I thought it was only fair to add another episode sharing tips and tricks for all things online pinup pageants.

Other Pinup Pageant Guide Episodes:
-Writing a Pinup Bio
-Sending in Pinup Pageant Applications
How to Plan a Routine
-Planning your Pageant Outfits
-Planning your Pageant Hair and Makeup
-Using Props on Stage
-Posing on Stage
-What to do on Stage
-What to Pack for Pinup Pageant Day
-Pageant Etiquette

When applying for an online pageant, it’s important to read and understand what the pageant requires of you. This includes knowing what time (and timezone) applications are due, when video submissions or photos are due and when the pageant will be held.
Don’t apply for an online pageant if you don’t think you can commit to the required submission guidelines. Most online pageants will ask you to submit either a photo or a video as your final entry and if you don’t think this is something you can do, then simply don’t apply.

Read and Follow all Requirements
This is probably the most important part of an online pageant as all information for contestants should be clear. Most pageants will send out an information sheet either before applications for all to read or just for those selected to participate in the pageant. Really take your time reading this information as you don’t want to waste the organiser’s time just asking questions you could answer by just reading the requirements.
The most important parts of the requirements list include:
-The number of rounds, what the themes are and the time you have per round
-How you are expected to film your rounds eg. one continuous shot, with music, with props etc
-How to submit and edit your files including video submission formats
-Dates for submissions and the release of pageant results

Of course some online pageants are just photo submissions but its still worth reading the submission requirements and paying particular attention to the following;
-How many photos can be submitted
-Are the photos to be submitted supposed to be individually done so or as a collage
-How do you submit photographer (if any) details
-How much editing of photos is allowed

Filming Setup
Creating your filming set up can honestly be one of the most daunting parts of an online pageant. If you can create a space in your home that’s big enough to mimic a stage. You may need to move some furniture out of the way.
Be mindful of what is in your home and cleanliness. If you are filming in your boudoir or bedroom, keep in mind to put away all intimate objects or private items.
Lighting may be the most challenging part of creating your filming set up. If you have some filming lights or can borrow some, great, use those. If you don’t have extra lighting, try to film in front of a well lit window as this may give you the extra light you need. Do not film with the window behind you as you will appear darker and silhouetted which makes seeing your details difficult for the judges.

If you don’t want to film in your home, there are other options. One option is to find a nice local park. It is important to be mindful of what’s behind you as you want to avoid other people, especially children, being present in your video.
Another option is to find a dance studio, small theatre or community space. The pinup and burlesque communities are very close so perhaps you can ask some of your burley friends if they know of a studio or dance space you can use for an hour to film your pageant rounds in.

Pageants generally allow you to be on stage with music and an online pageant shouldn’t be any different (of course, check what your pageant requirements are). Absolutely have music as you film your pageant routine but if you are allowed and know how to,

All online pageants are different but I am yet to find one where you should feel required to hire a professional film crew so don’t feel like you can’t apply or be a part of a pageant because all you have is a mobile to film on, it’s enough.
I’d definitely recommend getting a tripod if you can’t find a friend to film your routine. Although handheld is fine, if you have someone with shaky hands, it can look better if you have a tripod; most have a swivel function if you need to move the camera side to side in case you walk off frame.
Filming on your mobile is absolutely fine but I’d definitely recommend looking at your video settings and turning them up to the highest definition you can get. This also means making sure your phone has enough space to hold such a high-definition video.
If you’re worried about your phone and its filming capabilities, see if you can ask a friend to film on their phone.
If you want and are allowed, you can also just film using a DLSR camera but make sure your pageant will accept filming on such a device. I’ve had one pageant be very strict about only filming on a mobile phone so please don’t cheat and film on something big and fancy.
Film your video preferably landscape but of course, your pageant should have told you what orientation they prefer. Most I’ve seen ask for landscape as it looks better when turned into a YouTube or Facebook video. By filming landscape, it means you shouldn’t have to move your camera around much as it’ll capture a wider view.

As per pageants requirements, most ask you to submit one continuous video instead of a chopped up video. When you do a live pageant, you only get one shot onstage to do your performance, so when filming, it only makes sense to do the same. By filming one continuous video of your performance, it gives the judges, organisers and of course the audience a sense of the pageant being more realistic. Personally, I don’t like seeing online pageants where contestants have chopped and cut up their video to get the best parts possible, it kind of feels like you lose the spark of doing a pageant as it takes skill to learn to move about the stage and change poses seamlessly. Of course this is my opinion and it’s completely up to the judges with how they feel about it but if the requirements of the pageant are one continuous video, then that is what should be submitted.

My biggest tip for filming your pageant rounds is to keep the feel of a real pageant, pretend you are walking on stage and still continue to smile and wave at the ‘audience’ (my cat just looks at me funny whenever I’ve done this). Stick to your time limit and behave as you would onstage. It can be a bit awkward sometimes but it’s part of the charm of online pageants.
One last tip for filming I have is to take a few photos of yourself in your outfits for the different rounds. I normally suggest one full body from the front and back, and then maybe a cute fun one. Although your pageant may not ask for it, this can give the judges a reference of what your outfit was as well as a chance to notice little details. By taking a photo you also have something to share online come pageant day as you may not be able or allowed to share your video.

If your pageant has a Q&A round, or a segment where you are required to speak on camera, don’t freak out. Speaking on camera can be really intimidating so I’d suggest practicing your speech a few times and even writing down dot points on a piece of paper and placing it right behind your camera. Don’t read off a script if you can avoid it as it always feel disconnected. Remember to keep your eyes mainly on the camera as the audience will notice you constantly looking away to read your notes. You can film your rounds as many times as you need to so take your time filming.

Whether it be video or photo submissions, be very careful with your editing.
For video submissions that you edit on your mobile, avoid using apps such as Instagram or TikTok to edit your videos as the compression will leave you with a very compressed video that isn’t clear.
Do not put filters over your videos. Although it may be tempting to put a smoothing filter to make your skin look lustrous, avoid this as it lowers the quality of your submission and you’re not being judged on your physical beauty anyway. Its better to look human than a perfectly smooth-filtered person. It goes without saying not to put an aging filter on your video either; yes you want to look like a 50s bombshell but don’t turn your video black and white or add video crackle effects, you won’t get points for this and you make it harder to see details.
Check your requirements to know if you need to overlay your music file into the video or submit it separately. If allowed, it may be worth muting your video in editing software and then putting a clean and clear track over the top so you don’t get too many background noises. This worked well for me as I had neighbours being a cubby house on one of my filming days so all your hear was drilling, yelling and hammering in the background.
By putting your video into editing software you can also make sure to crop out any unnecessary footage such as waiting for yourself to start your performance or the camera moving as it’s turned off. Its a small edit but makes for a cleaner video.

If your pageant is photo-based and your photos were taken by a professional, it is up to them to edit your photos as they technically own the photographs (unless stated in the release form your supplied). If you took your own photos, only give them a light edit as you don’t want it to look too artificial. I normally would suggest just brightening up the image and if you’re very concerned about a blemish then a quick removal of it is enough.
Do not feel the need to edit your body shape or to edit something into the background. Keep your photo as simple as possible; remember you don’t get points for how professional your photo is, you get points for being you.

Most online pageants will ask you to submit your final pageant film or photos using either DropBox of a Google Drive folder. In the early pageant days, I did have one pageant ask to send the final files over Facebook messenger but they soon learn that messenger can’t handle large files, even when filmed on a phone. They soon changed their submission and accepted a Dropbox folder.
When submitting your video files, I’d recommend naming then with your pinup name and then the round name. For example “” for a day wear round. This helps the organisers know exactly what your video if for instead of wasting their time trying to guess when watching it along with all the other submissions.
Keep your video files on hand in case you need to change their format. I found that submitting the files as a .mov file works well but of course, some pageants have asked for .mp4 files as well. By keeping your files on hand, you can quickly change them if needed but hopefully, your pageant gave you a guide as to what types of files are needed.
If you find submitting your files a little daunting, Google is a great place to ask silly questions with no judgement, or even ask other contestants what is working for them. They should be happy to help and this way you don’t need to hound the organisers who are probably super busy already.

Pageant ‘Day’
It’s a little tricky to know exactly how your online pageant will be run as I’ve seen everything from Facebook live events, YouTube videos with pageant results at the end, the pageant results just being photos posted to social media and other variations. When you apply for the pageant, there should be information as to what kind of pageant it will be come result day.
The best thing about most online pageants is that you get to watch the results from the comfort of your own home. It may be fun, especially if the online event is live-streamed, to gather some friends and make your own event. Some pageants, depending on technology as well, may ask pageant contestants to film videos of their reactions and submit them or even join in on the live stream. If this is the case, it may be worth getting a little dressed up.
Just like any pageant, the result day is rather exciting. I sometimes like to chat with the other contestants and post comments under the live video to share encouragement and boost morale. One of the best parts of real pageants is cheering on your fellow contestants, so by sharing encouraging comments, it keeps the spirit of what makes pageants great going even online.

Extra Tips
Submit your videos/photos early just incase there’s an issue. Computers and technology fail and go wrong all the time so just incase the organisers have an issue reading your files, you have plenty of time before they’re swamped with work to aid you in fixing an issue.
As with any pageant, online or otherwise, always take time to thank the organisers, sponsors and share the results openly and proudly.
Online pageants should be held to the same standards as live pageants so remember to make sure your outfits poses and props are all up to the same standard as a stage performance.

Online pinup pageants are great fun and a good opportunity to get involved with the community in a unique way. The best part of online pageants is that you can refilm your round as many times as you need to and only submit the best take. Trust me I’ve had everything from umbrellas get stuck, hats fall off and tripping over happen to me whilst filming and it was great knowing I can just start again and this didn’t happen whilst onstage. Filming your pageant rounds shouldn’t be intimidating or stressful, get your setup done before you get into hair and makeup and only move onto another round if you feel you’ve got your best take.

It’s rather exciting adding another episode to my Pinup Pageant Guide after all this time. All this information and more can be found in the links above and on my YouTube channel.


Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.


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