Back to the 40s in Chester, South Carolina

Sometimes I take pictures because people pay me to capture images of their families, or their graduates, or their special days. Others need headshots or pictures of their businesses or products. I’ve even had banks pay me to take photographs of properties that they don’t care to visit. All in a day’s work.

But other times I get to take pictures just because I want to. As photographers, we refer to these shoots as “personal projects”. There can be a lot of different reasons for a personal project, but ultimately it’s something I do simply because I want to. And for some time I’ve wanted to shoot a series of images that captured a sense of 1940s street photography. Actually, that makes it sound more pretentious than I intended. Think 1940s candids. And if I could grab a nice portrait along the way, that would have been a bonus.

Fortunately, I know some people that like nothing better than to get up early, work on some very specific hair and makeup styles, and put on clothing that they (literally) finished sewing the night before. They aren’t models, or actors. They don’t wear “costumes”. They are reenactors, who wear authentic, period-correct clothing and know more about the 40s than I could ever hope to. And best of all – they don’t mind standing in front of a camera.

So after months of comparing calendars and trying to work our way around the pandemic, we finally all met on a beautiful morning in Chester, South Carolina. I chose Chester partly because it lies reasonably close to all of us and mostly because it still looks a good bit like it did in 1940-something. And I mean that in the most favorable way.

My original intention was to present the images in black and white. Most of the “candid” shots of the day are done that way. But the flash of red lipstick or the colors of the dress against the buildings sometimes called for color. In both cases, I worked for muted contrast and subtlety, trying to create photos that looked as though they were shot on the film available in the period, with a slightly aged look. I also determined to use only prime lenses for the day. No zooming. Everything you see here was shot with either a 50mm or 85mm lens.

Click on the images to enlarge them. Clicking on the small letter “i” beneath the image will allow you to see more information.

So a special thank you to my friends for a thoroughly enjoyable morning. I’ve already warned them about the next project that I would like for them to be involved in. I believe their only comment was that they need to start working on their hair now. I’ll let you know when we get it done.

Have you thought of a period portrait shoot? What time frame do you think about? How can I help you get it done? Let me know and we’ll get started before all of our calendars get full again!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I wish I could join you for something fun like this. All good photos. The monochrome image versus the color of the lady, the monochrome is more striking because of the crop. She is closer to the left side whereas I suppose the color version I would find striking if the crop was the same. Nice to see a new post from you.

    1. That’s interesting, Daniel. I actually took the second shot because I felt that I had placed her too far to the left in the first. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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