University of Sheffield Photo Soc

Classical Hollywood B&W

Portraits of Hollywood stars from the 1920s to the 1940s were shot in a distinctly glamorous, smoky black and white style, with soft focus lenses and high contrast lighting. It’s a look that still has the power to captivate viewers today, and many photographers seek to recreate this classic effect in their own portraiture.

Two master photographers of this style are George Hurrell and Clarence Sinclair Bull, who photographed some of the most glamorous women of Hollywood’s golden age, from Jane Russell to Greta Garbo.

To help you create some Hollywood magic in your own photos, here is an article describing a retro Hollywood portrait shoot, and a video tutorial on using Photoshop to replicate that seductive, soft focus look.

Category: General

2 Responses

  1. Paula Goodale says:

    Nice feature! See also Eve Arnold for some of the best ‘natural’ pics of Hollywood stars, including Marilyn Monroe. There’s a really nice interview/video here:

    And for something different, the brilliant surrealism of Angus McBean, including one of the most iconic pics of Audrey Hepburn:,,1809695,00.html

    … he also did the Beatles, including some of their album covers.

  2. Miki says:

    Thanks for the links Paula! I love Audrey Hepburn :) the Angus McBean photo is from her early career as a model (in an advert for soap, I think?) – it’s beautiful. Some of my favourite pictures of her are the ones by Cecil Beaton, though.

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