More Antique Portraiture

Bear with me. There’s a number of portraiture shots coming up over the next weeks. There was just too much going on with Locks and Lashes recently *ggg*. They keep me shooting – which is great, btw.

I have always been fascinated by the Hollywood Glamour style of photography. The use of light – or rather shade! – is just so dramatic, and makes the sitters look good in any case. I came across the “inventor” of Hollywood Glamour photography when I was researching for one of my college projects. George Hurrell actually had pretensions of becoming a painter. He initially started photographing as an aide for his painting. Or rather, to document his paintings. Gradually, however, he got into photography, takeing pictures of other artists’ paintings and eventually discovering that he could actually earn money with photography. Hurrell revolutionised portrait photography and famously declared that it was not about where the light was, but where the shadows are.

He also invented possible the boom light. An obvious idea for a photographer to have – easily movable lights that can illuminate the sitter from above, drowning out lines and wrinkles, creating what we nowadays call beauty light. Not only did Hurrell perfect the lighting techniques he pioneered, according to a website I found, he was also a master of retouching. I could go on and on here with more examples of his fascinating work. The photographs are just stunning. And while I am neither a fan of Hollywood nor of beauty as such, this footnote in photographic history utterly transfixes me.

Not that I come close to his work, but it’s certainly an inspiration, and it is fun to play with light and shadow. Here is my take on it:

Locks n Lashes (33)

Light is too soft for Hurrell – and it’s a colour image, too, but I like the shadows drowning the image to the right. It pays to look at the old masters, in any case.

4 thoughts on “More Antique Portraiture

  1. Servetus

    the model has an interesting face, as well. I think that’s another feature of that particular era of photography for me — images not fixated mostly on the anodyne model face.


    1. Sonja Post author

      Interesting point, Serv. Yes, the faces were different then. Sometimes you can really tell just by the face of the subject which decade the photo comes from. (Or maybe that is because of make-up and hairstyle?)


      1. Servetus

        Didion wrote a post about this once — I can’t find it now — about the greater diversity of striking faces in early film. Her assertion was that it had to do with actors coming from live theater where large heads with very memorable features were an aid to delivery of the role, I believe.


      2. Sonja Post author

        That makes sense, I think. Maybe it nowadays also has to do with the advances of technology – the crisp-clear digital image that can capture all details, therefore a characteristic, strong face is not essential anymore. On top of that, beauty ideals change, and the strong facial features from long ago are often not desirable anymore…


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