Even though my dreamwork involves photographing women and helping them to see their unique beauty and gain self-confidence, every once in awhile I get a photo shoot request that allows me to grow beyond healing women with photography.
My 1950s Hollywood portrait photoshoot request came from the president of a local cigar club. He wanted a classic Hollywood look and a few photographs with cigar smoke. Photographing smoke can be challenging and I had never tried it.
I was excited.
The style of 1950s Hollywood-style portraits of men is starkly different, in particular, to my contemporary fashion photography.
We started the photo shoot by choosing an outfit and finding suspenders. He had an awesome vintage jacket. I parted and gelled his hair 1950s style.
In my photography studio, I set up a beauty dish with a grid and set it camera right. This lit his face and, torso well but let the light fall off towards his feet.
I find a lot of photography inspiration in Hollywood glamour photographer Geoge Hurrell’s dramatic style of classic movie stars.
Hurrell was famous for portraits deep with contrast. He used large light but was a master of using pencil on 3×5 negatives to soften and perfect skin.
For this photo session, I chose to start with hard light and then softened it.
I bought a large softbox camera left for fill to soften the shadows and contrast and eventually used the softbox as the key light for a variety of lighting styles.
To get the cigar photos he requested, we moved outdoors and I used the beauty dish with a grid as the only light.
Since there wasn’t much wind, I was able to capture some awesome shots. The beauty dish was perfect for illuminating the smoke when I aimed the grid towards its billowy stream.
As far as posing, he didn’t need many directions (as most men don’t) and I didn’t want to create poses that wouldn’t look natural for him.
1950’s portraits of men were shot with strong, natural poses.
My photo editing was done in Lightroom for cropping, exposure and color treatments.
In Photoshop, I darkened the backdrop with layer masks and hand painting.
He’s so tall I had to place him right against the backdrop.
With a taller backdrop and larger foot area, I could have controlled the light fall off better so I wouldn’t need to edit as much.
But it was worth the extra time.
He was pleased with the outcome and feels we captured what he was looking for.
It was a piece of cake with a handsome and easy-going client.
I’m thrilled! I hope to add more 1950s portraits of men to my portfolio soon.
I think men can also benefit from the self-confidence boost that portrait photography can offer. There’s something about a photographer being able to capture a vision of yourself that you never realized you possessed.
You can see his camera confidence building as the shots unfold and he relaxes. If only we too remember to relax into our big dreams, especially when photographing 1950s Hollywood portraits of men, and simply allow our natural self-confidence shine through.
The results are always magical.
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, Iman Woods.