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  • Writer's picturesarahhawley

Inspired By Film Noir

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV, but when I do I watch movies, especially older black and white films. I love the style of Film Noir and I thought I would try and create a photograph inspired by it. I began to develop ideas for my image, and I was thinking about creating an office scene that focuses on the desk of a Private Investigator. The props were meant to help tell a story about a man hard at work on a dangerous case. My props included an old camera, film negatives, photos, magnifying glass, a pipe, a bottle of booze, a fake knife for protection and an image of his sweetheart framed on the desk next to a desk lamp.

My first draft of the image turned out pretty well, but after looking at it for a while and getting some feedback from some of my fellow photographers, I realized that I needed to add something more to help convey the danger aspect in the image as the knife alone was not enough. There also wasn’t enough contrast between the blacks and whites as you would see in Film Noir and I needed to make sure that the viewer understood what was happening in the image.

To correct this, I made a few changes which included a closer crop into the items on the desk. I added more contrast in the image using a curve layer paired with dodge and burn techniques in my post processing, to help reveal the cast shadow of the blinds on the photo frame and the office wall. To signify the danger element in my image, I downloaded some blood splatter brushes and I added a slash of blood across the bottom half of the photo frame, some drops of blood on the film negatives and a smear of blood on the blade of the knife itself. If this doesn’t suggest danger than I don’t know what will.

After making these changes I think the story is much clearer, more engaging and it leaves the viewer asking questions like what happened? Below is a comparison of my Film Noir image before and after I have made these changes.

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