Vintage fashion photography. Have you heard of this phrase before? Whether you’re a professional photographer or a passion-hobbyist, you’ll get familiar with organic ways an image can have a vintage texture and appearance. Through light.
Vintage Fashion Photography: The Classic Hollywood Glam Shot
There’s that popular Hollywood glam shot that has made its way back into the modern age of photography— think Marilyn Monroe, with the spotlight on her facial features. That side wave of her locks from her forehead to her chin. And that shadowy backdrop to bring her to light even more.
This style of fashion photography was first used by the proprietor himself— George Hurrell. Hurrell pioneered this image-capturing style during the 1930s, when huge stars such as Clark Gable and Katharine Hepburn were themselves, shining with the brightest lights during that period of film and photography.
What made Hurrell the legend that we now know him to be was his creativity. But most notably, his courage in going beyond the norm. Older films and photos were then very balanced. The curves and lines of objects and backgrounds were very clear and vivid. Yet also, very bland. They all looked the same. Stills and films weren’t distinct from each other.
Thus, Hurrell had the idea of going in the opposite direction. He wanted texture. He wanted layers. And he wanted drama. With this, he began to experiment with shadows. Hurrell believed that not everything in a photo has to be “highlighted” the same way. If he wanted the object to be the main focus, then he needed to use darker tones for the rest of the parts of the image. Hence, Hollywood glam photos became the “It” photo of that era. And it still is today.
Fashion Photography Lighting: Basic Glam Lighting Techniques
1. Experiment with types of lights.
Hurrell was fond of utilizing what’s called “hard” light. The purpose of this was to make the subject bold and solid upon snapping that shot. Others use grids to emphasize the shadows around the corners of the image.
At the same time, using a black wrap around Vector lights is another excellent technique. It brings about shadows in a dark, more textured way. Not like it was just done by accident. But very, very purposefully.
2. Use an extra lighting device.
In fact, you might only need a minimum of two in order to achieve that glam, vintage effect. Vintage photography lighting is about being smart with lights and dimming and shadows.
You can simply use a key light as the main instrument for the object of the frame. Then, you can rely on another lighting apparatus and position it in the background. The reason why this duo is one of the most effective of their kind is that the background light is placed very specifically behind the subject as to bring about that strong shadow around the main subject itself.
Brighter-than-conventional exposure is essential in completing this vintage photography lighting technique. The brightness of a lighting device, when paired with good control of the camera’s coverage, PLUS the background lighting apparatus behind the subject— that’s the complete package right there.
So, go ahead and test these out to see how you’ll obtain images that are beautifully and classically vintage, for that fashion photography, Hollywood glam-style!