Zenfolio | Karl Shreeves | Reviving the Golden Age

Reviving the Golden Age

March 25, 2014  •  Leave a Comment






Model: Michelle Kummer
Make Up: Karrissa Lorrine

Sorry for such a long interval between posts. We just moved and as you may expect, that has kept me really tied up.


Some of my favorite looks are from the late 1930s to late 1950s era in Hollywood. This was the period when photographers including George Hurrell, William Walling Jr., E.R. Richee and C.S. Bull created many of the iconic movie star images that today we recognize at a glance. Photography evolved over this 20 year period, so that there are some notable differences between images created early and those created late in this span, but most images from this era share several characteristics. First, they are almost all in black and white. Second, they have very shallow focus range. Third, they used hard light -- that is, lights that create shadows with a relatively hard, distinct edge as opposed to a wide, gradual edge. Although these resulted from technical limitations, the style became so distinct that it continued longer after technology had moved on and the limitations no longer applied. George Hurrell continued to shoot using largely the same equipment and techniques until right before he passed in 1992.

For this image, we created a then-is-now look using modern equipment. I modified the lights to replicate the hard look, and in Photoshop, converted to black and white. The image had a wide focus depth, but I recreated the narrow look of the period in Photoshop as well (which takes more work than it may appear). The makeup artist imitated the period while keeping a modern feel, and a candlestick phone added a touch that takes us back (even though it is more of a 1930s thing than '40s).

I've used this look for portraits as well as fashion. Recently, I used it for a subject being recognized for bringing the movie industry to his area many times (away from Hollywood, on location), making this classic look fitting. It's a fun, rewarding imaging style for both me and the subject.






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