As artists, inspiration can come from any source, specially as a visual artist, that inspiration can come from pretty much anywhere; it can come from a song or from a beautiful sunset. I am always on the lookout for that one thing that will spark a myriad of ideas. For this project that spark was an old magazine I saw in the window of a local hair salon. The salon was closed but I just happened to look through the window and I saw this old black and white magazine sitting on a small table inside. At first I couldn't make out what it was because it was upside down, but it caught my eye. Finally I figured out it was this black and white picture of Jayne Mansfield on the cover (see pic below).
I remembered about all those old magazines my father used to subscribe too when I was a child and remembered being in awe with how beautiful the pictures were in the magazine. They simply oozed glamour and star power.
Most of the photographers of that era used Fresnel type lights or big spot lights with GOBO's. Using these lights required a vast knowledge of the behavior of light. Safe to say, using these types of lights was not an easy task. However, the photographers of that era were able to use them with such mastery that even with the harshest lights and sharpest shadows they made their models look amazing. Nowadays we are able to reproduce these images easier with the advancement in flashes, strobes and lighting modifiers. However, the subtle nuances of the light, expression and overall mood of these old Hollywood glamour images is not as simple. They were not just masters of light but also exceptionally adept at conveying glamour, star power and class in a simple portrait. If one was to ask you to picture an old Hollywood starlet you would undoubtedly picture one of the images I have described here.
I felt a certain nostalgia when I saw that image of Jayne on the cover, so the next day I went to the bookstore and bought a book about Hollywood Glamour photography. In this book most of the pictures that really drew my eyes were shot by the late great George Hurrell. I became a bit obsessed with finding out everything I could about Mr. Hurrell's portraits, lighting styles and methods. His work is some of the most amazing portraiture work I have seen. So, I decided to pay a homage to not only George Hurrell but also to all of the masters of photography of that Hollywood Glam era.
My first hurdle was finding a way to pay homage to them without losing my own aesthetic sense. I wanted my portraits to reflect that style without it being just a copy. I purchased a few more books and after researching for a few more days I started putting together the shoot. The first thing I would need would be the correct wardrobe. Most of the shots I admired in these books featured women wearing beautiful evening gowns. I admired how simple yet elegant the women looked and how the gowns did not to distract from their natural beauty. After I secured a few options and accessories my attention turned towards what I think to be one of the most important things in order for this shoot to look genuine...the hair! I was contacted by a hairstylist through Model Mayhem and luckily she understood exactly what I was looking for.
The day of the shoot came and once the makeup, hair and wardrobe were set we were all transported to Old Hollywood. Everyone could feel the nostalgia in the air and the results were amazing. I could not have been happier with the results.
I would like to say a special thank you to my amazingly talented creative team: Helene Marie (Hair) , Alli Ann (MUA and Model), Aeriane (Model), and Patricia (Model), you guys made my job so easy and such a pleasure to do.
Click here to see my "ODE TO HOLLYWOOD" portrait project.
I am planning a few more shoots in this style so stay tuned, more to come.