Sunday, November 16, 2008


I CURSE MYSELF for an UNGRATEFUL WRETCH!!!! A few weeks before Halloween a commenter sent me a link to these wonderful pictures and I can't remember the commenter's name or the name of the photographer! Can somebody help me out here?

Anyway, the pictures were all, every last one of them, taken recently, even though they look 50-100 years old. I think the photographer is Ukrainian.

What dates these pictures besides the car and the way the model's dressed? Well, there's the color of course, and the matte finish. Maybe also something about the dignity possessed by the model, even though she's obviously striking a planned pose.

Interesting! A girl taxi driver (above) and her passenger are frozen in a moment of time, like a fly caught in amber.

I like poses that are obviously planned (above). They're unreal but they tell you something about the sitter and about the era they were taken in that you can't get any other way.

People seem to be trying to express an ideal in pictures like this. They have a notion of the way things should be and they enjoy expressing it. In addition, you get the feeling that this girl wanted to project her image into the future, the way Egyptian kings used to.

This (above) could have been a Hollywood publicity still, but I'll bet high-end portrait photographers were doing this sort of thing too. Everybody must have wanted to look like Dick Powell and Myrna Loy, but you need posed, studio photography to get that effect.

Fascinating! I can imagine this guy (above) hanging out at the mall, wearing a Billabong tee shirt and baggy jeans, and yet here he is in another era, looking like a practical businessman. Boy, men sure have changed since the 30s.

Here's (above) a photo that might have been taken in the 20s when pulps were full of stories about high-society cat burglers. Some of the stories had an eerie, supernatural feel to them.

Wow! The photographer included his reference in the upper right corner (above)! In the color version the girl is less threatened, but the picture still conveys a mood. The air around the woman feels like a creepy, green soup. She recognizes the intruder. He's someone she knows, hell-bent for murder. A less earthy girl would scream, but this girl continues to adjust her stocking. She's going to try to brave it out.

Yikes! Here's (above) that supernatural feel again. I don't think the same shot would look half as good in color. Once again, you need posed, studio photography to get effects like this. Kinda' makes you want to retire your SLR doesn't it?

Holy Mackerel! I think this (above) is the same model that was in the bikini way up top!

The same girl(above) again!!! Boy, what a difference a good model makes! That old viewer behind her looks like an alien robot. The two are collaborating now because they need each other, but when the goal is in sight they'll betray each other and a great battle will ensue.


Phantom Spitter said...

Those pictures are beautiful, Eddie! Have you ever seen "The Passion of Joan of Arc"?

Anonymous said...

Sorta looks like Peter Gowland's work, but if it's as new as you say, it wouldn't be his.

oppo said...

It's kind of interesting to know that people of past generations were not a completely diffrent species that we are.

And here's a collection of "firsts" in photography:

trevor thompson said...

Holy cow, this guy's my new hero!

- trevor.

Frank said...

if you want to take retro pictures,
proper clothing, hairstyles and cars help.
but a great touch, that most people forget,
is to shoot the picture with a "time period appropriate" camera and filmstock...

Anonymous said...

They're from Retroatelier-

The minute I saw the pictures I almost wanted to cry.... I've wanted to do that all my life. Alas, no models.

There's a guy in the states that does a similar thing:

Perhaps you oughta contact him for a session! Cartoonist Noir, anyone?


Frank said...

spooky sally is one of my new favorites....

oppo said...

btw... My above comment was in responce to the "fly in amber" thing.

Pete Emslie said...

Hey Eddie, is that gal at the top a member of your new "Love Nerds" dating service? If so, match me up with her, will ya' pal!

Anonymous said...

Those are incredible!

Anonymous said...


Hans Flagon said...

I don't think a time period appropriate camera and film stock were used as much as aspired to. I would bet a digital camera and Photoshop were involved.

Where most attempts to look retro fall flat are in the details. It could be the depth of field or overall sharpness are simply inappropriate (in either direction, as studio publicity shots were actually made on 4x5 or larger plates, and retouched on the negative. Often you will see no attempt to adjust the color balance to emulate the older stocks although that is done here.

Easy example of details failing in these much better than typical recreations, is the Gentlemans Hair in the shot of the couple... it is not greased down enough and has a touch of that 70s dry look that has been the usual for the past 30 years. And the bikini shot might have been more time appropriate in a early sixties muscle car, although plenty of vehicles of the fifties were still in use when the bikini made its first appearances.

But again, they were meant to evoke rather than slavishly fool anyone, I'm sure.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

Those really are some beautiful pictures. I think it's the lighting that really gives it that retro feel.

mike f. said...

I just bookmarked the RetroAtelier site...

Absolutely astounding; a modern artist with a genuine love and respect for the stylized beauty and simplicity of the past - without any need to turn it into a smug, superior commentary on how much better the modern world (supposedly) is. MAD MEN it ain't.

Thanks for the tip, Eddie and C.H.

The Modesto Kid said...

Dear Uncle Eddie, I just found your site yesterday while I was looking around for images of the old Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension ads. (I linked to your fine post about them from here.) It seems to be a great blog and I'm glad I did find it; look forward to reading some more. And yes, excellent pix -- do you think the photographer's Ukranian just because of the mood of the pictures and the look of the subjects?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Frank: Wow! Nice stuff!

C.H.: Ah, Retroartelier! Thanks a million for identifying them! I looked on their site for the name of the genius responsible, but the studio is a collective, and I couldn't figure out who to praise. All of them, I guess.

Thanks too for the reference to the film noir portraiture site. Good stuff!

Hans: Wouldn't you kill to have a good view camera?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Phantom: Joan is a great film! There's a good vintage book of frame grabs from that film.

Frank said...


that sounds like a great book.
i will have to look for it.

i wrote and asked them if this one photographer's work or many ?
here is thier response:

There is a team of us. We have artistic director, it's me, a photographer, a wardrobe stylist, a make-up artist and a master of photoshop.

Best, Alex Galushkoff

there you go eddie...


I don't think a time period appropriate camera was used here either.
but i have seen hotrod photographers use them with great results.
there is something cool about creating a period photograph without photoshop !

drop off a roll at the one hour photo, pick it up, open the envelope and instant retro !

though i will be the first to admit it, digital cameras and photoshop make it all easier and quicker...

Hans Flagon said...


I had a 4x5 view camera I loaned out and never saw again. I'm such a nice guy.

I may still have my Speed Graphic, but its shutter was not as nice, and you had to work with modern flash with it. Carrying around a bag full of preloaded four by five film holders will change the way you shoot though. Army Surplus stores used to be the most common source for speed graphics.

Chinese and Russian medium format knockoffs, and some chintz lens 35mm they sell, are famous for those still wanting to get a retro effect. There is a plastic camera famous for its vignetting and short depth of field. .

William Eggleston used to find rolls of 35mm color that were 20 to 30 to years old, and shoot them, for the color shift that time gave them (along with their original formula being different.

Andreas said...

Great shots. Thanks for sharing.

Speaking about retro cameras, I have used, and probably should get some film for again, a Yashika 124G Twin Lens Reflex camera. Some of the most beautiful shots I have ever done were with that camera and Illford XP2 Super chromagenic black and white. Square prints and big negatives equals awesome. I always wanted to get a 4x5 view camera.

Gretchen Geyer said...

I'm trying to find that picture with a guy and girl in separate cars stopped side by side and they're talking/leaning in for a kiss??? Do you know the picture I'm talking about & can you help? Thank you!