Photo Anatomy: creating golden age glamour portraits without complication

Photo Anatomy: creating golden age glamour portraits without complication

In our Photo Anatomy series on Digital Camera World we select pictures by famous photographers and explain point by point what makes them work.

In our latest instalment we speak to Russian fashion and portrait photographer Olga Lavrenkova, who explains how classic Hollywood studio lighting techniques inspired one of her most striking portraits.

Photo Anatomy: creating golden age glamour portraits without complication

Ideal model
“I chose my friend Alla as the model,” Olga says, “because 
she isn’t shy, can show any emotions and looks like a 1940s film star. She was perfect for
this particular assignment.”

Uncomplicated kit
To shoot this image, Olga 
used her main camera at the time, a Canon EOS 10D, with 
a 50mm f/1.4 lens attached. She used an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/11, ISO100.

Serendipity
The final combination of pose, expression and accessories occurred spontaneously. “It’s like a puzzle,” Olga says. “First you find one thing, then come all the others, and after many tries you say, ‘that’s it!’”

Dramatic lighting
The single light directly illuminated the model’s face and created very harsh shadows. It also picked out the curling line of white smoke coming from her cigarette.

Classic set-up
The model was lit by a Bowens 500 head, with an opened reflector covered by semi-transparent matte white paper. A simple piece of dark cloth was used as the background.

We say
“Planning is vital in this kind of portrait; you have to know what you want to achieve before the shoot. If you want to use classic ‘movie studio’ lighting, look at lots of images from Hollywood’s Golden Age (1930s-50s) and use their poses and techniques as your inspiration.”
Chris Rutter, technique editor

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