Makeup can help your character models come to life

Choose great character models.
Photo by Barry Freeman.

An interesting location will make for an interesting photo

Add an interesting place to shoot.
Photo by AnneMarie Baker.

A storyline in a photo adds interest

Give a little storyline.
Photo by Joerg Lehmann.

With all the retouch tools on the market–in your camera, on your mobile phone or desktop–why not go invent a few fun photos of your own? Grab friends or family and stage your own Film Noir looks!

Top 5 Hallmark Looks of Classic Film Noir

  1. Gritty black and white–it’s a must. Well, usually! If you plan to convert to B&W consider making photos that feature clean and non-distracting textures and patterns. Blank backgrounds will simplify things, and watch out for too many tonal ranges. Add texture and moodiness with faux film grain, use a vignette border and even darken things up overall.

    Sometimes adding color can do wonders, but keep the shadow and feel

    Breaking the rules… sometimes a little color in a film noir look adds emphasis.
    Photo by AnneMarie Baker.

  2. The Shadow Knows–a lit match, an eerie stretch of shadow, car headlights at night…you’ve seen all these in old Hollywood films. The photos shown here were created with studio lighting on two different Renegade Photo Shoots, one dockside and the other in a studio, but you can create your own imitations. A flashlight hidden up the sleeve of a coat, a single lamp next to a face, a tripod and slightly longer exposure can yield solid results.

    Lighting and props are a good way to set a mood in noir photos

    The ultra bright garage light was pointed directly at Venetian blinds.

  3. Watch it, She Has a Gun! Seems there’s always a gun or a knife or a rope. If you have children on set, how about just a tried-and-true wrestler grab from behind to show a little struggle?

    Set up a scene that tells a story in your posed photograph

    A modern day “love triangle.”
    Photo by Scott Dickson.

  4. The Love Triangle. Villain, hero, heroine–the eternal triangle. You know the good guy always gets his gal. Be sure to dress characters in costumes and accessories, and have them pose to show emotion, tension and drama!

    Camera position and angle can set the mood for your subject

    Camera positioned low and pointing up

  5. Camera Angles Heighten the Mood. Angle your lens, shoot upward, photograph a scene from above. Noir directors of photography such as John Alton, Gregg Toland and Alfred Hitchcock loved to use camera angle variety.

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