• Ian Crowson Photography

Good Day from Southsea - Hollywood Style Lighting for Portraits.

Ian Crowson Photography blog gives some ideas to emulate the glamour of 1930's and 1940's Hollywood Portraits. These portraits of the classic Hollywood film stars were created by iconic photographers such as George Hurrell.

My model

I found this beautiful model Anna on Purpleport modelling site. I love the period Hollywood look and wanted to shoot some photos in that style. Anna is an experienced model who when asked can hold a pose. A lot of models who work at glamour modelling change their pose several times a minute, jerking about whilst a group of photographers snap away.

The lighting.

I used three studio flash lights. One to light the background to separate the model from the backgound, The second a hair light to give some shine to the models hair. The third to light and profile the her face.

The model sat well away from background of dark grey patterned velvet allowing a light to be placed just to light the background .

The hair light was placed above Anna and to her left. The flash head was fitted with a reflector and barn doors. The barn doors allow the light to be shielded from the camera and directed onto her hair. A snoot (like a tunnel) would also have worked for this purpose.

The main light placed above and to the model's right. This was a flash head with a reflector and grid which gave a focussed light. A feature of the Hollywood style portraits is the strong shadows. Study Anna's nose, cheek and chin shadows, they are dark and distinct.


The Hollywood Era

Modern glamour portraits use soft full face lighting which are flattering to the model but lack the character of the Hollywood era of Black and White Movies.


I use studio flash for my Hollywood look images. Back in the day fixed and very big and hot lights were used. Focusing frensel spotlights were a feature of their studio set up. Since that shoot I have aquired a fresnel spotlight adapter for my studio flash light.


The camera and settings

I shot the photo above with a Nikon D810 (full frame) and Nikon 85mm lens. Camera settings were f13, 1/125 second and ISO100.

85mm is considered by many to be the ideal focal length for head and shoulder portraits.

Conversion to black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2. This very easy to use Photosho Plug In allows you to chose the mono look you require and add the classic film look you like.


Ginger Ninja shot with similar lighting to Anna above.



Model Denisa with Hollywood look.

Ava Gardner was often photographed in large hats.



bye from crow's-eye in Southsea.

info@mysite.com       Tel: 123-456-7890

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