• Ian Crowson Photography

Hollywood Lighting Techniques - Glamour Portraits in the Film Noir Style

Updated: Nov 10, 2019

Good Day from crow's-eye in Southsea. You're back with Ian Crowson Photography looking at creating striking and nostalgic glamour portraits in black and white.

Large Hats Added to the Glamour

"Glamour the Special exciting and attractive quality of a person, place, or activity".

The very word Hollywood suggests glamour. The place they made the movies that lead to an escape from dull everyday life.

Ava Gardner, Hedy Lamarr, Vivien Leigh

and Rita Heyworth conjure up images of beauty and excitement.

These stars needed promotional photographic images of themselves and turned to masters like George Hurrell. Big hot focused lights casting intriguing and flattering shadows.



Smoking Was Cool
I used three studio flash light heads for these photos of models Anna and Ginger Ninja

One focused light onto the face, one onto the hair and the third on the background.

In addition to the focussed light onto Ginger's face I used a reflector to lighten the shadows.

The hair of both models were lit by a flash head with barn doors to direct the light on their hair and shield it from the camera. Although the backgrounds don't look very lit, they are. This was to create separation of dark areas , such as Ginger left shoulder or Anna's hat, from the background.


Aperture f11, shutter speed 1/100th and ISO 800

Chiaroscuro, light and dark (Italian) Recently German photographer Peter Lindbergh used it in his book Shadows on the World. The book features mature sensual women including Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren and Charlotte Rampling.

After reading the book my wife modelled for me. If HelenMirren and Charlotte Rampling would pose for glamour, Glynis would too.

Chiaroscuro technique suggests more dark than the Hollywood style, perhaps more mystery.

Again three lights are used but for this photo I used the modelling lights in the flash heads rather than flashes.

The camera was a Nikon D850 with a 85mm lens.



Aperture f8, shutter 1/100th, ISO 800

The intention of using this style of lighting in these four portraits is to create, mystery, excitement and atmosphere.

For this image of Glynis I used just one of the modelling lights. The main light slightly to her right is the only one. It's fairly close to the subject and just about lights her hair and shoulders.

Look at the catch lights in a models eyes it can show a lot about of lights used.

The lighting here is sometimes called short split lighting. The side of the face farthest from the camera is lit and the the side of the face closest to the camera is in shadow.




When taking a portrait have an idea of what you and the model are looking to achieve. None of these photos would be suitable for a business website in the financial sector. The Hollywood stars of the 30's, 40's and 50's needed images to enthral their fans and have Directors cast them in the next Big Movie.


Bye from crow's-eye,

Ian Crowson Photography of Southsea


If you would like to see more of my work see: www.iancrowsonphotography.co.uk or www.droneandcamera.co.uk or buy or use an image stock side Alamy.



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

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