Josh Burns (headshot)

Retro Hollywood Portrait

Admittedly, I’m old school when it comes to glamour.  I love the Golden Age of  Hollwood and I’m always looking for new ways to  recreate the excitement of those publicity stills shot by photographers like George Hurrell, that could catapult the career of a young actor or starlet.   Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and many others owe a great part of their star power to the photographers that transformed them into goddesses,  creating  a lasting mystique that translated into — BOX OFFICE!

These masters defined glamour in ways that still keep our eyes riveted to magazines and remain my wells of creative inspiration.  I never get tired of looking at images from this era.

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Of course, glamour didn’t stop with the women.  Clark Gable, Cary Grant, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart benefitted  just as much from the Hollywood publicity machine.

For this shoot, I wanted to create a headshot that had  a vintage Hollywood look – a publicity still; something that looks like it might have been printed on aged paper decades ago.

Josh Burns, an up and coming actor, had no trouble nailing the character I was looking for.  He bears a slight resemblance to Joaquin Phoenix, intense and provocative but with the softness of a Montgomery Clift.

I used a fairly common lighting setup among portrait photographers, namely a large softbox as a primary light source just above the subject, a silver reflector placed under the chin and two black  V-flats positioned on either side of the model, adjusted on the fly.

Hair & Makeup: Admin Rivero.  Shot at Starr Street Studios, Bushwick, Brooklyn.

bi-plane pin up

Bi-Plane Beauties

When the opportunity arose to shoot a series of pinups on a private airfield with some vintage bi-planes, I couldn’t resist.  We gathered under a big Texan sky, on a partly cloudy day that made for beautiful diffused lighting conditions.  There was a patriotic feel in the air, probably brought on by the collection of about half a dozen vintage military bi-planes, polished to a blinding high gloss, that awaited us.  These weren’t some idle museum pieces either.  These babies were fully functioning, a couple with their engines still warm from an early morning spin.

 

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As a kid, growing up in a concrete jungle, looking out the window of an 11th story project, I was captivated and thrilled by the rural, middle western world depicted in the film, The Great Waldo Pepper, starring Robert Redford and directed by George Roy Hill.  The story centered around WWI fighter pilots who flaunted their flying abilities (including wing walking) in aerial stunt shows to make a living.  Over the years I’ve watched it dozens of times.  I fell in love with bi-planes.

Bi-Plane Beauty

Lady MaCallan Bertina checking for engine trouble.

 

 

gatsby portrait

Glamour in the Jazz Age

I’m a firm believer inspiration can be found anywhere, even from required high school reading.  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels are arguably some of the most sordid of all assigned texts in high school English.  Scandalous and glamorous, the flappers of the 1920s epitomized the loose morality, decadence and overindulgence of a privileged class.

It’s always fun to shoot portraits with a theme.  For this Gatsby inspired session I wanted to create a specific atmosphere; a tawdry environment, thick with cigarette smoke, where morality is left at the door, where the desires of the imagination are no longer suppressed but rather given center stage.

Sabra w/ feathers

Sabra JohnSin

I’m not alone in my love of jazz clubs, pulp fiction, vintage clothes and burlesque showgirls.  I came across this amazing set of siblings in Austin, Texas.  Kierstin and Sabra JohnSin are two of the city’s most popular burlesque performers and models.

Sabra brings the audience to a frenzy whenever she performs  in her white feathered fans and gold high heels.

Sabra JohnSin


Big thanks to Kierstin and Sabra JohnSin for their creativity, boundless energy and irrisitible beauty.