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Hurrell’s Retro Glamour

Posted Sunday 12 June 2011

When we think the Academy Awards old photos, its impossible to do not associate it with George Hurrell, one of the illuminators of the Old Hollywood glamour photography. Hurrell photographed most of the glamorous actresses of his time includingJean Harlow, Norma Sheare, Dorothy Lamour, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford and many others. Sharing a time when many of the photographers used soft lighting, Hurrell emphasis was on direct, dramatic lighting.

One of the keys for his Old Hollywood Glamour photos was his attention to lighting. To dramatically light cheekbones and create dark shadows under the eyes and nose, he invented an easily movable boom light, inspired by the movie studio’s boom microphones. His retrospective glamour photography is currently on exhibit at the Palm Springs Desert Museum.

Old Hollywood Glamour photographs require the same technical skills as any other area of portraiture: strong compositions, competent use of lighting, an awareness of how to pose your model to the best effect. Is a good balance between both the techniques and the aesthetics. At Kendall Portraits we cover everything from a complete makeover with the proper retro chick makeup and hair styling to easy-to-replicate diva poses. Our Old Hollywood Glamour Photography is guaranteed to give you that all-important creative edge to guarantee a wow effect

A Visionary with Style

Born in Covington, Kentucky, Hurrell originally studied as a painter with no particular interest in photography. He first began to use photography only as a medium for recording his paintings. After moving to Laguna Beach, California from Chicago, Illinois in 1925 he found that photography was a more reliable source of income than painting. His photography was encouraged by his friend aviatrix Pancho Barnes, who often posed for him. He eventually opened a photographic studio in Los Angeles.

In the late 1920s, Hurrell was introduced to the actor Ramon Novarro, by Pancho Barnes, and agreed to take a series of photographs of him. Novarro was impressed with the results and showed them to the actress Norma Shearer, who was attempting to mould her wholesome image into something more glamorous and sophisticated in an attempt to land the title role in the movie The Divorcee. She asked Hurrell to photograph her in poses more provocative than her fans had seen before. After she showed these photographs to her husband, MGM production chief Irving Thalberg, Thalberg was so impressed that he signed Hurrell to a contract with MGM Studios, making him head of the portrait photography department.

Over the next decade, Hurrell photographed every star contracted to MGM, and his striking black-and-white images were used extensively in the marketing of these stars. Among the performers regularly photographed by him during these years were silent screen star Dorothy Jordan, as well as Myrna Loy, Robert Montgomery, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford,Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Norma Shearer, who was said to have refused to allow herself to be photographed by anyone else. He also photographed Greta Garbo at a session to produce promotional material for the movie Romance. The session didn’t go well and she never used him again.

In the early 1940s Hurrell moved to Warner Brothers Studios photographing, among others Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Errol Flynn, Maxine Fife, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. Later in the decade he moved to Columbia Pictures where his photographs were used to help the studio build the career of Rita Hayworth.

He left Hollywood briefly to make training films for the United States Army. When he returned to Hollywood in the mid 1950s his old style of glamour had fallen from favour. Where he had worked hard to create an idealised image of his subjects, the new style of glamour was more earthy and gritty, and for the first time in his career Hurrell was not seen as an innovator. He moved to New York where he worked for fashion magazines and photographed for advertisements before returning to Hollywood in the 1960s.

An exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965 caused a revival of interest, and he continued to work sporadically. By the 1970s he was photographing such celebrities as Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett and John Travolta. He officially retired in 1976 but would still take photographs if he was particularly interested in the subject. Sharon Stone and Brooke Shields were two stars he felt conveyed the type of glamour he enjoyed photographing, and they posed for him several times during the 1980s . In 1984 when Joan Collins was asked to pose for Playboy at the age of 50 she insisted that the only photographer she would accept was Hurrell, he photographed Collins in a nude 12 page layout and the issue became a bestseller. Among his last works were production stills featuring Warren Beatty and Annette Bening for the film Bugsy and the cover artwork for the Natalie Cole album Unforgettable… with Love. In 1992, during the making of a documentary about his career, he took a series of photographs of actors Sherilyn Fenn, Sharon Stone, Julian Sands, Raquel Welch, Eric Roberts and Sean Penn. In these portraits he recreated his style of the 1930s, with these actors posing in costumes, hairstyle and makeup of the period.

Hurrell died shortly after completing the documentary from complications from his long standing problem with bladder cancer. Since his death, his works have appreciated in value and are highly sought after as fine art by collectors.

Demystifying Glamour Photography

Posted Wednesday 14 July 2010

For many portrait photographers one of the highlights of their portfolios is glamour photography. For some, glamour photography comes in the form of sharing an artistic passion for photography of the beauty. Yet many photographers (both prosumers and seasoned professionals), seem to lack either the confidence or the skills necessary to understand the nature of Glamour Photography.

Some Glamour photographers shoot their glamourous images specifically with the criteria of the beauty of the nude in mind, other photographers try to find glamour inspiration in simple details of their every day work. Either way is acceptable and often good glamour photography comes from both types of sessions. Here is a few tips to get outstanding glamour photography.

  1. Keep the final glamour photography in mind during the photo session.
  2. Look for “an image within your image”.
  3. Pay close attention to composition and color harmony.
  4. Remember that less is more when it comes to special effects.
  5. Keep in mind that glamour photography clients are very different from everyday photography clients.
  6. Make sure to choose the right makeup, hair style and wardrobe style that your clients are comfortable with.
  7. Compose within the camera.
  8. Use the right lighting to enhance the highlights and hide the no perfect side of your client.
  9. Always keep a professional attitude during the photo session.
  10. Never try to push your client to go over their limit off comfortability.

In addition to get a better customer satisfaction, the above tips will help you to be a better photographer. Glamour Photography can also provide an outlet for personal expression and creativity.



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Rockabilly Photography

Posted Wednesday 14 July 2010

Over the years a number of fashion photography styles have grown towards each other, oft times overlapping. The word rockabilly was used around the mid forties and was a blend of hillbilly and rock and roll music styles. Todays pinup photographers generally recreate the stylish fifties imagery which overlaps but is distinct from rockabilly. It is not de rigueur to have tattoos and piercings for rockabilly, although many fans certainly do.

The 1950s were an exuberant decade that saw the birth of rock’n’roll, new fashions and social mores, and a breakaway generation who were the first to become known as teenagers. At the turn of the 21st century there are some for whom the 1950s never died..

The term ‘rockabilly’ came into existence in 1956 to describe a style of music that combined rock’n’roll with country or ‘hillbilly’ music. Key rockabilly artists of the 1950s were Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins. In the early 1980s rockabilly revival groups like the Stray Cats played up the retro 1950s greaser image, while bands such as the Meteors combined rockabilly with punk to create a subgenre known as ‘psychobilly’. In the 1980s and early 1990s Sydney rockabillies frequented the Landsdowne Hotel, the now-closed Phoenician Club and the North Bondi RSL, which hosted live music and provided the necessary space for dancing. Today, venues like the Empire Hotel and Bar Broadway stage local and overseas rockabilly bands and DJs, while psychobilly bands play at the Annandale Hotel.

The term rockabilly is now used more broadly to describe people who are passionate about the 1950s and its iconic elements – from fashion and photography to cars and music. There are thriving rockabilly subcultures in the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. To those involved in the scene, rockabilly is a lifestyle, not just a style of music. Many are avid and serious collectors, their homes decked out in retro furnishings and fabrics, while weddings and parties involve vintage clothing and cars.

Key events on the rockabilly social calendar include the Fifties Fair at Rose Seidler House and Brisbane’s GreazeFest. Key fashion elements for men include Hawaiian, cowboy, bowling alley and gas station work shirts; jeans and leather motorcycle jackets; suits; and flamboyant hairstyles. For women it’s a vintage dress or skirt paired with original 1950s accessories and seamed or fishnet stockings. Tattoos are popular with both sexes.

A History of Pin-up Art

Posted Wednesday 14 July 2010

Pinup, glamour, and ‘cheesecake’ began to gain popularity in the 1930s. It was a time when the image of a pretty girl flourished. Glamour photography has changed over time as the female form, portrayed in art and photography, became more provocative.

During World War II pin-up pictures of scantily clad movie stars were extremely popular among US servicemen. Whether it was a painted calendar, advertisement, or the photo pinups that the G.I.s pinned on their locker doors,and which later adorned the noses of their bomber planes in WW2.

Famous illustrators like Petty, Rolf Armstrong, and Gil Evgren began creating some of the most memorable, technically exquisite ´Americana` ever produced! Calendars, magazine covers and matchbooks became a personal view into the life of the girl next door.

However, until the 1950s, the use of glamour photography in advertising or men’s magazines was highly controversial or sometimes even illegal. Magazines featuring glamour photography were sometimes marketed as “art magazines” or “health magazines”.

Pinup art continued to grow in popularity, and sophistication through the 1950s. Movies were made about Pinup Artists and models, and most actresses of the time were considered pinups first then actresses. Marilyn Monroe was Earl Morans’ favorite model before and after she became a movie star! Numerous celebrities posed for pinup and glamour artists.

Playboy was instrumental in changing the world of glamour photography as the first magazine that focused on nude models and was targeted at the mainstream consumer. In December 1953, Hugh Hefner published the first edition of Playboy with Marilyn Monroe on the cover and nude photos of Monroe inside.

Monroe’s star status and charming personality helped to diminish the public outcry. When asked what she had on during the photoshoot, she replied “the radio”. After Playboy broke through, many magazines followed and this was instrumental in opening the market for the introduction of glamour photography into modern society.

Author: the Author:

Irene Forde is a writer and publisher of craft books and CDS.

The Story of Burlesque

Posted Wednesday 14 July 2010

Burlesque photography are everywhere on the Internet. The early burlesque images with their typical risqué overtone designs have been reborn. Some glamour and pinup photographers has been captivated with burlesque photography. But where it comes from? Writer Debbie Mendoza has studied the burlesque over many years specializing in the history of vintage girdles.

The word burlesque probably derives from the French, which describes a piece of slightly outrageous, humorous art. In the 1840s the term burlesque originally applied to shows intended for middle or lower classes. Such shows lampooned upper class niceties and parodying upper class entertainments like opera & dance. Such music and comedy shows and plays grew in popularity on both sides of the Atlantic during the nineteenth century. In Victorian England, where even “a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking”, burlesque challenged its audience by offering rather more than a “glimpse of stocking” – the lure of young ladies appearing in tights and lingerie! Certainly demure by today’s standards these slightly suggestive interludes certainly boosted the popularity of burlesque. When, in the late 1860′s Lydia Thompson took her burlesque troupe, called the British Blondes, to New York they were an immediate hit. At first they were feted by the press, but before long strident voices, from the pulpit and the papers were complaining of loose morals and indecency. The result of all this adverse publicity was to spread the word about burlesque far and wide in America effectively having the reverse effect to that desired by burlesque’s critics – female burlesque troupes with close copies of the original British act sprung up around the country.

These shows owed a great deal of their structure to the minstrel shows of the time and generally consisted of three parts – the initial section featuring the ladies, the middle section was a mix of male comedians and specialty acts and the final part the grand finale. Copying Lydia Thompson’s lead, most of the troupes had female managers. However towards the end of the nineteenth century, as male managers took over, they switched the emphasis away from comedy to push boundaries, determined to show as much uncovered female flesh as the laws would allow.

This form of entertainment metamorphosed in the early twentieth century into a mix of music hall, satire and striptease. During the twenties the bias continued inexorably towards striptease and away from the accompanying elements. This shift doubtlessly was burlesque’s downfall; by the thirties the popularity of burlesque dropped away probably reacting against what had become slightly tawdry striptease shows. Local authorities were no longer as tolerant of this entertainment, which had lost much of its music hall variety flavor.

The New Burlesque

In the mid nineteen nineties the genre was resurrected, with troupes in the USA, and the trend has snowballed over to the UK. Now, once more on both sides of the channel, it is possible to see shows equal in glamour, bawdiness and variety to equal the art form in its heyday in clubs and theatres in major cities. Arguably the Internet has played a major part to spread the interest in the genre. There are websites, such as Ministry of Burlesque dedicated to promoting it, to teaching dance, makeup and fashion.

Burlesque lingerie

The mainstay of this style is lingerie and modern burlesque generally concentrates on the fifties and to a lesser degree the forties look. This extends not only to clothing, but hats, footwear and makeup too. There have always been fans of fifties silk and nylon stockings. The majority stocking mills closed up shop when pantyhose all but killed the stocking market. Their huge stocking machines were destroyed and along with it the expertise to manufacture fully-fashioned stockings. Now the rare machines remaining are being rebuilt and returned to service to again produce faux fifties seamed stockings. However a few companies trading online still have limited supplies of the original fifties stockings so the purists can satisfy their need to the ‘real thing’ rather than the modern copies. Sadly, once that depleting stock is exhausted, they will only be viewable in museums and private collections.

However, for burlesque photography it is the fishnet tights or pantyhose that are still really popular. Companies are making exact copies both of retro costumes and burlesque accessories, from ostrich feather fans to bullet bras. Lingerie companies, sensing an opportunity not to be missed, are enticing well-known burlesque artists to lend their names and expertise to burlesque-inspired lingerie designs.

Because burlesque photography is so empowering to women, it is very common for burlesque stylists to take everyday lingerie, adapt it by sewing on sequins to devise their own unique take on burlesque. However the common thread that runs through the new outfits, going right back to the earliest days of the art form is the element of ‘tease’, the showing of rather more lingerie and stocking tops that would normally be seen in everyday life.

What makes a photo a work of art?

Posted Saturday 25 July 2009

There are no rules to evaluate a photography and considered it as a piece of art. But everyday people will consider instantaneously a work of art those photographs that has been awarded in some important competition. Between the pros, one of the most desired awards are those that receive a merit from professional photographers associations like PPA (Professional Photographers of America) or WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International).

But the makup of the competition change every year. For the PPA Print Competition, each Judge is asked to pick grade level and then a corresponding score within a category as follow:

Exceptional: (100-95)
Superior: (94-90)
Excellet: (89-85)
Deserving of Merit: (84-80)
Above average: (79-76)
Average: (75-74)
Unacceptable: (69-0)

Those images receiving 80 and above will receive a Merit and will be included in the PPA General Collection.

What are the judges looking for in a photography?

There are 12 elements typically used to judge image quality:

Print Presentation
Center of Interest
Subject Matter
Color Balance
Technical Excellence

At Kendall Portraits, we strive to reach every element of this list in every single shoot to get the most important judgement for the health of our Photo Studio: yours.