Jennifer & Jordan: Classic Hollywood Engagement Portraits

When I met Jennifer and Jordan, they had a clear idea of what they wanted before they even hired a photographer. However, they had not yet found a wedding photographer who could do more than just environmental and available light portraits. They liked the way that I use shadows in my wedding work, but they did not know I had a strong studio foundation as well. To go off on a slight tangent, shadows are important. They define our visual selves – our faces, our eyes. The use of shadow is the same as the use of light, the very foundation of what makes photography possible. Our couple wanted a studio session instead of your typical outdoor portrait shoot, but they also wanted it in a certain style.

As fans of old Hollywood glamour and film noir, they wanted a certain classic finish to the final product. I knew I could do it. I’ve had years of experience on commercial and studio jobs. The catch though was that I’ve never been asked to shoot something like this. How many photographers actually deliver old Hollywood glamour portraits? How many fans have what it takes to pull off the look? I was excited for a challenge. These unique opportunities are what I live for.

This was also an amazing chance to put my Mamiya RZ67 to work. After Jennifer had her hair and makeup done and picked out her favorite dress and jewelry in the studio. Jordan donned a timeless tweed jacket and pants combo that complemented Jennifer’s vintage style. We put on a playlist with tunes from the 1920’s and 30’s. With a couple of rolls of Ilford HP5, getting rich shadows and grain on black and white was a perfect tool for executing Jennifer and Jordan’s vision.

Hair and makeup – mariaaspegren.com

Classic Hollywood engagement portrait - Stephen Tang Photo
Classic Hollywood engagement portrait - Stephen Tang Photo
Classic Hollywood engagement portrait - Stephen Tang Photo

Film Cameras: Olympus mju II aka Stylus Epic

Classic camera Olympus mju II
I picked up this Olympus mju II (µ II) used in 2014, way before the prices skyrocketed (don’t blame me). My battle-worn Olympus has seen plenty of miles and the finish is blemished but the motor and other functions still show no signs of failure. The paint looks like a champagne gold finish, way more fun than standard black or silver. This camera is dear to me because it is a fine travel companion. It fits into my shirt pocket, has a fill flash, works in the rain, and focuses pretty damn close to your subject.

For the most part, this is a dummy camera with auto everything. There are two key features though that give you some manual control. One is the spot meter, which helps you focus and expose for the center of the frame. The other is the flash disable. Unfortunately, you have to dial in these settings every time you turn the camera on by sliding the front door.

Classic camera Olympus mju II

There’s also a data back that imprints the date or time onto your 35mm photos. It comes out in red, which is pretty cool and reminiscent of the 90’s.

Classic camera Olympus mju II

If you want to overexpose your color negatives or underexpose and push some black and white, you’ll need to take a blade and scratch away the DX code on your film canisters prior to loading. Alternately, if you need to cover up for other codes, you can use some nail polish or tape to prevent electrical contact between the exposed metal on the canister and the sensors inside your camera.

Below are some photos from the last two years. I’m going to break tradition with my blog only covering weddings and engagements. I do a lot more than just wedding photography and I draw from all of my experiences (nine years counting) when I’m on assignment.

HP5 400 on the olympus mju ii - Stephen Tang Photo
Nephews on HP5 400
Kodak Ektar 100 on olympus mju ii - Stephen Tang Photo
Me on Ektar 100
Kodak Ektar 100 on olympus mju ii - Stephen Tang Photo
Somewhere along the Sierra on Ektar 100
Kodak Gold 400 on olympus mju ii - Stephen Tang Photo
Pacific Northwest on Kodak Gold 400
Kodak Gold 400 on olympus mju ii - Stephen Tang Photo
Pacific Northwest on Kodak Gold 400
Provia 100 on olympus mju ii - Stephen Tang Photo
Tanabata Matsuri on Provia 100
Provia 100 on olympus mju ii - Stephen Tang Photo
Odie on Provia 100