My initial idea to work with the theme of noir really excited me, meaning all my research and planning was more of an indulgence of a passion rather than a chore, in fact this evaluation was the only thing I’d been putting off. I looked briefly at more contemporary source material such as the frank
miller sin city graphic novels where the key features of noir have been caricatured and stretched to extremes with every image a set of solid block colors creating a world of shadows and flashes of blood red and films such as blade runner where the ideals of a strong anti-hero has been catapulted into the future, while keeping the media conventions of the genre such as the lights shining in through slightly open blinds casting a shadow on a man’s face and the steam filled streets as a male figure walks into the distance
As writhe with inspiration as these modern sources are I wanted to focus on the classical noir spirit, the cinematography of 40’s and 50’s became a large part of that for me.
I tried to reinforce my early ideas by looking at photographers that create large-scale almost cinematographic images be they staged or captured as they happen in the real world, o winston link and Gregory Crewdson stick out in my mind as two particular examples of this.
Crewdson’s work happens mostly behind the scenes spending hours and hours preparing a location like it was a film set, using masses of lights and models to create amazingly detailed stills that would not look out-of-place on a Hollywood movie lot.
O winston link’s work achieves a similar level of detail but his work captures split seconds in real-time, using large flash set ups and experiments with shutter speeds he managed to capture beauty unseen at the time.
[Left. an image of the lighting kits used by link, Right. a personal Favourite of his work entitled “hotshot east bound”]
I at this point had a pretty solid idea of how i wanted my work to look, so i had three big challenges to get passed, first being lighting get the right intensity of light on location with limited equipment would be difficult.
Secondly finding a location i knew i wanted to hold on to the 1940’s / 1950’s theme which living in a mainly 18th century built town with a modern town centre would never be easy,
The third and final challenge would be models creating images using real modern-day people and finding ways to recrate the fashions and feeling of a different era on a tight budget meant I would have to start begging for help as soon as possible.
Thankfully I had a little experience thanks to a past project I had done with a similar theme
after a few more experiments I was pretty confident in how I was going to light my work I just needed locations,
My first location was recommended to me by a class mate a local garage has a few older cars that would fit my work perfectly.
So I wasted no time in going to talk to the owners and thankfully they agreed to me shooting there at an agreed time with in the next few weeks, it was now that I began looking for models as well as more locations.
I had initially planed to used older looking small landmarks like lamp posts and keep the images tight using a 50mm lens meaning there would be no chance of modern details slipping in with out my notice, but then as I was on the search for new models I found the perfect location.
Wolverton station is located no more than 20 minuets from my home and was once the official train station of the royal family, now privately owned and no longer in use.
when I first visited the station i knew it was perfect it has been restored to when it was in its last in use in the 1940’s, meaning the architecture is exactly what i was looking for.
with the abundance of smaller locations with-in the station I felt I had more than enough opportunities to successfully complete my assignment so I begun searching for models, using the best tool at my disposal to address a large number of people simultaneously Facebook
Thank fully with in my personal Facebook friends and the followers on my professional page i have a few people who are heavily interested in retro fashions so finding models wasn’t too much trouble.
all my models showed up and with the exception of a portable light refusing to trigger and a lot of corn flies we had no difficulties.
The post edit stage came and went very quickly, I think as I was shooting I had Favourite images and the same ones seamed to jump out at me while I was selecting my final images.
i tried to focus on images that felt like part of a story, as though the images where a still from a film or part of a family album.
this brings me neatly to my display it was suggested to that I set my work out as though it was a section of a home, again trying to mirror that real life snapshot of time i loved so much from the work of o winston link, and keeping the now ageing noir genera almost as though this could be the living room of a now ageing fem-fatal from one of the movies that have inspired me so much.
As stated in my previous post the wolverton shoot was intended to be the sources of the demon share of my final images, having such a perfect location at my disposal seamed like to good an opportunity to waist. of course I had back up plans in case I didn’t get the material I wanted but thankfully that was not an issue, as id hoped the station was easily divided up into a series of smaller locations giving me a wealth of opportunity.
Again I shot monochrome in camera, then added a light sepia tone to the images in post edit, i will wright a post about the editing process later on.
this has been my biggest staged shoot by a wide margin using eight models and such a large location without the assistance of Chris Drewery I would have struggled, see his work here>>> https://www.facebook.com/chrisdreweryphotography
in hindsight the only thing I would have changed would be to stagger the times at which the models arrived meaning I wouldn’t have so many people waiting around in-between shots, but most of all this have inspired me I now know I can pull off large scale location shoots and am excited to organise my next.
The first shoot at brockwells garage went really well, the gentlemen that own the garage had two beautiful 1940s cars that they happily let me use. The only real obstacle we faced were the modern details in the garage and the natural lighting, after a few test shots I decided to embrace the natural light and give up using flashes.
my model is a retro fashion enthusiast and thus provided her own costume as well as doing her own hair and make-up, using costume give the images a far more authentic feel, allowing the viewer to suspend dis-belief and trust that the images are older than they appear. Looking back on the shoot I don’t think it could have gone better, the only think I would have done differently given the chance would have been taken more advantage of the interior of the cars, it was something I had intended to do, but as it is a working garage I wanted to leave as soon as possible to allow the staff to continue their work and the shot slipped my mind (in future a detailed shot list will be used).