Some time ago I'd checked out a book on vintage Hollywood portraits from the library. In its pages were scores of photographs of Hollywood legends like James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, and a host of others.
The book also contained lighting diagrams for the pictures and the stories behind the portraits, as well as details about the equally famous photographers who made many of these iconic images: names like George Hurrell, C.S. Bull, and Robert Coburn.
There's something enchanting about those classic images--the gorgeous black & white prints, the soft focus, the mastery of light and composition. I've wanted to experiment with that style for some time. Nicole, whose senior portraits I made this fall, joined me at the studio today to see what we could do.
Since those old Hollywood portraits used continuous lights (although they were "hot" lights), I also wanted to use continuous lights for these tests. So I used the ALZO Video Pan-L-Lites that I reviewed about the other day. While I wasn't able to duplicate the quality of light exactly as it appeared in the old portraits, the Pan-L-Lites still gave me credible light. By using the grids and barn doors on the Pan-L-Lites, I was able to shape the light for several good looks, including the ones in the images posted here.
There's still a lot for me to learn about this style but this was a fun first step. Many thanks to Nicole for her patience and time today.