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George Hurrell Hollywood Style Photos
George Hurrell worked for MGM in the 1930s and 40s and photographed pretty much every star of that time.
Joan Crawford and Humphrey Bogart & Marlene Dietrich, Veronica Lake, Robert Taylor, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, James Cagney, Hedy Lamar, Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan), amongst dozens of others.
HIs photographic style has inspired hundreds if not thousands of photographers since then.
Editing a George Hurrell Negative
People often complain about the fact that software editing is over used. Unaware that the negatives of that day and age were worked on for hours before the photos were printed. Hurrell shot with 8x10 film plate cameras. Even sometimes used an 11x14. These negatives are huge by comparison to the negatives used through the 90s - up until the advent of the digital camera. Along with the large lenses used they would let a huge amount of light in.
So, with the large negative, it was easy to see blemishes. Back in the day the studios would have a team working with the negatives for hours to get the results in print that were desired. I remember some of the books I used to peruse. There were before and after photos of, I think it was Marlene Dietrich. One, printed before the negative was cleaned up - you could see what her skin was really like. And the next print was done after the ‘editing’ of the negative. Quite a difference.
So, below, I'm channeling my George Hurrell. These photos were taken in the 1990s of a friend. One light set up. The black and white photos were shot with Ilford film, likely 400 ISO. And the colour, I have no idea. I recently scanned a bunch but failed to note the type of colour film before throwing it out. My only regret is that I didn't take more photos at the time with her. Maybe at some point I'll get to do more photos with her. I hope you enjoy:
Hurrell's and some other well known Hollywood photographers used some interesting lighting techniques. Often one can discern from the photo what direction lights are coming from and how many lights, etc. Much more difficult with many of these as you have other variables. One, being the cameras used, and the other being the extensive editing on the negatives. My advice to someone trying to emulate this type of glamour portrait, is to practice. Try different lighting set ups until you get one or three that that you really like, that communicates in a way you desire.
For something different have a look at our David Bowie inspired photoshoot.
You read more about George Hurrell and see much of his work here!
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