Photo Anatomy: why a top pro used a ’60s retro style to photograph Kate Beckinsale

Photo Anatomy: why a top pro used '60s retro style to photograph Kate Beckinsale

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, top portrait pro Jason Bell explains how he used a ’60s retro style in his elegant portrait of Hollywood actress Kate Beckinsale.

Photo Anatomy: why a top pro used '60s retro style to photograph Kate Beckinsale

Bell was asked to shoot Kate Beckinsale for the edition of Capitol File magazine that coincided with President Obama’s inauguration. He chose to photograph her as former first lady Jackie Kennedy.

Bell shot the image using a Hasselblad H2 with a Hasselblad HC 2.8/80 lens, and lit it with Profoto studio kit – four lights on the background for even lighting and one large Octalight softbox on Beckinsale.

Bell wanted the image to look like a slightly aged gelatine print from the ’60s,  so he converted the file to black and white, increased the contrast and put a touch of yellow in the highlights.

To accurately replicate the ’60s look, Beckinsale’s clothes and make-up were carefully styled. She had extensions in her hair and it was backcombed. Her hair and make-up alone took three hours to complete.

It’s a perfect shot for a double-page spread, but that wasn’t Bell’s intention. “I just turned the camera to the left when she looked to the right,” he says. “It was very instinctive.”

We Say
“Anyone can recreate this stylish look with the right make-up, some appropriate vintage clothes and a ’60s hairstyle or wig. Look at some ’60s pictures for ideas. You can see more of Jason’s work at the National Portrait Gallery website.”
Geoff Harris, Editor


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