The vintage glamour headshot is a look I’ve recently took an interest in mastering. So after some research I decided to go for it. Now there’s a couple of key characteristics of this look. First is, this is all about hard light. Hard key light. Hard kicker or hair light. Generally the light is off axis. Aside from that you can get away with what I’ve done here (almost a short butterfly), closed loop, open loop, broad, short lighting.
As for actually doing the shot. The key light was 30º off axis from the camera and probably another 30º above the subject. The hair light was positioned as to just grab the edge of the hair. You have some leeway with the hair light, as it is no uncommon in this style to blow the highlights in the hair. I backed this down a little and though we may have some clipping most of the detail is retained. The last thing from a photographic perspective is the hard light. This would be a great opportunity for grids or snoots, unfortunately I have neither so I wrapped tin-foil around the reflectors for the strobes to improvise a snoot. I would argue that worked pretty well.
The last thing that is important, that caught me by surprise, is this style is not completely photography based. The talent needs to produce the correct expression. This almost aloof dreamy look. This was the hardest part. We fired through frame after frame waiting for “the shot.”
As for post work there’s a couple things. Black and white. I pushed the orange and red values (those that control skin brightness) to the right, brightening up the skin. (This was a common thing on film to shoot portraiture with a yellow filter, which produced the same effect.) Next lots of contrast. Really adds drama. Did my routine portrait retouch, and a dramatic dodge and burn.
The overall success of the portrait I would say is good. There are some things I would like to change. Some things I would do differently next time. A beauty dish might be an interesting deviation, as would barn doors.
A great tutorial that I based most of this off from B&H.