1940's Hollywood glamour

Once I was watching a webinar of a Connecticut based photographer Robert Harrington who was presenting his techniques how to emulate a 1940's Hollywood glamour look by using an off-camera flash. It was so inspiring that I wanted to try myself.

Unlike Robert I decided not to use a background light, which would create a halo effect behind the head, and go with completely dark background instead. One flash was used as a main light, the other one as a hair light. Below you can see the whole setup.

lighting setup

In the beginning I had no idea how incredibly difficult it could be to use flashes to create that specific look. Especially while using snooted, very directional, light sources.

Every tiny head movement or a lean of a body had dramatic influence on the result — shadows became too long or too short, spreading everywhere but the places you needed them. That could be easily avoided by using studio lights with continuous light beams which would show you where the light was falling and how to position your model. But no worries, you can still achieve the same result with flashes, it is just way more challenging as you can not see what is going on until you take a photo.

version in colour
version in black and white

At the end, the photos were converted into black&white. Do you see how dramatically the look changes just by removing the colour? How totally different is the overall impression and feeling?

To support the conversion I planned all the details ahead. For example, I chose a nice dress that would both resemble the era and work well without the colour. The red lipstick seems too distracting in the first image, however, strong red colour once converted into black&white creates a great dark contrast to a lighter skin tone.

When was the last time you got inspired? And what did you create? Share your ideas with me in the comments below.

Location: studio, Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

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