I've always been obsessed with portraits from the Golden Age of Hollywood, especially the ones taken before World War II broke. I remember cutting out those Dietrich head shots by Don English or numerous publicity stills taken by George Hurrell from newspapers and magazines whenever there was an article on stars or films from that era. Sure, more often than not they were the results of painful sittings with subjects who were contractually obliged to have their shots taken by this or that particular photographer whether they approved of them or not and the end results were retouched to within an inch of their life (I find it funny when people go on about Photoshopping these days as if retouching was the digital age's invention) but when you look at those images today you cannot deny the fact that they are timeless. They will never age and they also seem to have a certain air of melancholy about them. I think my preoccupation with that particular style of photography can be seen in my work at times - the shadows, rich blacks, the drama, use of wide apertures, etc. It's not necessarily something I do consciously - it just happens to be the kind of aesthetic I'm drawn to. I've always wanted however to do a shoot that would directly pay homage to that era and this summer I was finally given an opportunity to do so.
I've written previously about the amazing Christine Bovill and her Piaf show at last year's Fringe Festival in Edinburgh and this July I was asked to take some publicity shots specifically to promote her Piaf performances - perfect opportunity to indulge my vintage Hollywood glamour obsession. The super-talented Caroline Stewart was in charge of hair and make up and here's a sample of what we managed to create:
At some point during the session I asked Christine to sing a song in order to get a few performance-like shots. After a few spine-tingling verses sung A capella in French, Caroline was reduced to tears. If you've not been as lucky and haven't had the chance to hear Miss Bovill live I urge you to do so immediately - she currently has a residency at Swing on Hope Street in Glasgow and you can see her perform live with The Shiverin' Sheiks every Thursday. Oh, it's free too!
I'm leaving you with a couple of images of a more dressed-down version of Christine take that same day: