Hollywood Glamour Lighting Tutorial
If you love light as much as I do, then the classic Hollywood glamour portraits of the 1930s and 40s are probably already on your radar. This month’s article is all about re- creating that classic vintage style—with a few modern twists.
This style of lighting doesn’t shy away from shadows, but relishes sharp transitions from highlight to shadow. Rapid falloff and deep shadows are two of its hallmarks, typically created using a two- to three-point lighting pattern, a key light, an accent light and a background light. We’ll use many standard lighting guidelines—facing the key and accent light at each other, sandwiching the light, lighting in a wedge formation, the use of a background light for separation— but change how the light is shaped and controlled, as well as the quality and source of the light. Check out this month’s video and lighting diagram for more on this.
Historically, Hollywood glamour portraits in the tradition of George Hurrell—arguably the originator of this style in the 1930s—were produced using tungsten-balanced constant- light sources, typically Fresnels, in black and white. Technology has come a long way since then, and given us white balance presets, control over color temperature in post and exponentially more constant light-source options.