1950s Portraits of Men

1950s portraits of men

The beauty dish is set at at the same height as his face. He’s sitting. The light is slightly in front of and to the right of the camera. This allowed light to reach him and illuminate the smoke while falling off to exclude the background. Shot at f2.0.

Every once in awhile I get a shoot request that allows me to grow beyond healing through photography. This one in particular was from a client who is the president of the local cigar club. He wanted a classic shot with smoke. This can be challenging and I had never tried to photograph smoke so I was excited. The style of 1950s portraits of men was starkly different compared to contemporary fashion photography.

1950s portraits of men

Hard light works well with men (and super models). The shadow from his arm could have been lessened by soft fill. After this shot I brought the soft box in.

We started by choosing an outfit and finding suspenders. He had an awesome vintage jacket. I parted and gelled his hair 1950s style. In the studio I set up a beauty dish with 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 inspiration in 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. I chose to start with hard light and then soften it. I brought a large soft box in camera left for fill to soften the shadows and contrast and eventually used the soft box as the key light for a variety of lighting styles.

1950s portraits of men

For this shot I used the soft box as the key light and the beauty dish was fill. Makes me think of 1950s fashion photography.

To get the cigar shots we moved outside and I used the beauty dish with grid as the only light. Since there wasn’t much wind, I got some awesome shots. The beauty dish was perfect for illuminating the smoke when I aimed the grid towards it. As far as posing, he didn’t need much direction (as most men don’t) and I didn’t want to create poses that wouldn’t look natural. 1950’s portraits of men had strong natural poses.

1950s portraits of men

I felt this shot looked very Cary Grant and applied a bronze sepia tone in Lightroom. He posed himself.

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.

1950s portraits of men

The beauty dish is set at at the same height as his face. He’s sitting. The light is slightly in front of and to the right of the camera. This allowed light to reach him and illuminate the smoke while falling off to exclude the background. Shot at f2.0.

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.

1950s portraits of men

The beauty dish is set at about half his height and is slightly in front of and to the right of the camera. This allowed light to reach him and illuminate the smoke. Shot at f2.0.



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Iman is a photographer who, through her unique process of coaching and photography, can show a woman what other people see when they look at her. She is passionate about teaching other photographers how to live and be a professional and making change in the world. She dreams of changing the way women look at their bodies and how the world defines beauty. She also thinks being an instructor on CreativeLIVE would be incredible. Iman battles Lyme disease and shares her unique view of dreaming while fighting for her health. Her post day is Wednesday. info@imanwoods.com Iman Woods If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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  • Jamie May

    dapp dapp dapp

    • ImanWoods

      Truly.

  • Those are amazing shots Iman! He’s a very dapper subject as well, Thanks for sharing!

    • ImanWoods

      Thank you Suzanne for reading and commenting! He is quite dapper. My job was easy.