An Old Hollywood Throwback

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Today’s feature is from .

Yuliya says:

“I have always admired the style of old Hollywood. I am inspired by Audrey Hepburn and her impeccable sense of fashion and ability to accentuate every asset and hide every fault, as well as the sheer simplicity of her outfits and their endless sense of grace.

I loved Elizabeth Taylor’s purple eyes and the intense look she had when photographed. I’m also incredibly inspired by the work of the photographers at the time such as George Hurrell and Irving Penn. I adored the way light and shadow could tell a story in a shot, portraying the subject’s deepest thoughts and fears.

This old Hollywood-styled shoot is the product of hours of research, playing around with lighting setups and experimenting while shooting. I wanted to mimic the style of the classic photographers while retaining my sense of individuality in my shots, as I truly believe in making something your own and not just copying someone else’s style entirely.

This was one shoot in a line of many to come since it was incredibly enjoyable and very rewarding.”

Yuliya’s Photography Tip:

The crucial aspect in old Hollywood style shoots is the lighting. Most of the photographers of the classical Hollywood era used what was called paramount light, which entailed having one key light high above the subject that was directed down on their face. This created what is also known as the ‘butterfly’ under the subject’s nose.

I found it helpful to set up my lighting and bring the subject’s face into the light and then have her look up, as opposed to trying to set up lights wherever you already positioned the model.

Another key aspect is to have a hair light to separate your subject from the background and highlight those soft, wavy curls. Having a hair light to the right of where you are shooting will make for a more interesting photo.

The other crucial tip is to move around your subject. Try as many angles as possible, shoot from directly on but most importantly – from above. Keep moving around your subject and see how the light changes from a different perspective.

Adjust it as necessary, but don’t be afraid of the deep, dark shadows – they will only help make your photograph more interesting, mysterious, and, in a way, real.

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Yuliya used a Canon 5D Mark II (affiliate link) with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Yuliya Rae is a Seattle, WA Women’s Portrait Photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.


Yulia has clearly mastered off-camera lighting, but that’s ok if you haven’t yet – we all have to start somewhere.

And there are tons of resources (affiliate link) out there to help you get started (or learn some new tricks, if you’re a seasoned pro).

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