Monday, May 10, 2010


"Harlow" is derived from several photos of Jean Harlow taken by George Hurrell, a Hollywood photographer in the 1930s. I had checked out a book of his portraits from the library; I had actually never heard of him before then but instantly fell in love with his work. I sat down to mark the photos I found most inspiring and found I was putting a bookmark every two or three pages!

Perhaps the most remarkable thing I learned from that book is that Photoshop is nothing new! The means maybe, but not the result. He (or an assistant) would retouch the negatives with lead to smooth the subjects skin, fix wayward hair, and add highlights and lowlights that couldn't be achieved with lighting alone. One page featured a retouched photo of Joan Crawford beside the original, unaltered print. She had freckles, crows feet, laugh lines, and all the other "blemishes" of life! It made me see the other photos in a different light knowing that they all had received the same treatment. They may as well have been paintings.

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