What If I Were, 1930s

“What If I Were…sitting with Hurrell in 1930?”

Yesterday I received Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques in the mail, and read it cover-to-cover last night.  That meant hair adventures today, so I tried out a 30s style from the book, and despite it turning out to look quite “meh” in the back, with the step-by-step instructions I was able to make my first Successful Deep Wave.

Successful Deep Wave meant pictures, which I got into tonight, with some artificial lighting and a white backdrop.  Don’t be afraid of artificial lighting!  I have two dish lights I bought at Home Depot – the kind with a metal dish and an exposed lightbulb, plus a clamp for easy placement pretty much anywhere – an an IKEA flexi-neck lamp.  Fancy equipment is not necessary.

Ironically, neither of these pictures show my Successful Deep Wave, but I did have a lot of fun taking them anyway.  If your interest is piqued by Old Hollywood style portraits, I can highly recommend Hollywood Portraits by Roger Hicks and Christopher Nisperos.  This book shows you exactly how to set up lights to reproduce the original Hollywood portraits of Joan Crawford, Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, and many other famous faces, shown in the book.

“What If I Were…Important Enough to be Photographed in 1930?”

I’m not going to do a step by step for these, because the techniques are the same as were used in the 1920s photo tutorial, which you can read here.  You *can* make these photos in Picnik.com, the free photo manipulation website.

Some tips:

  • As always, the hair and makeup is important, as is the pose.  Study 1930s portraits online, to get ideas, before doing your snaps.
  • Both natural light (from a window) and artificial lighting were used in the 30s.
  • Remember when you’re shooting for black and white to wear darker lipstick and eye makeup than you would normally.
  • “Contrast is the Meaning of Life, and Shadows are your Friends.”  1930s portraits tend to be moody, with high contrast and very deep shadows.
  • Two Must-Have Books: Hollywood Portraits and Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques
  • Be creative!


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