Jada Steward’s Not So Comprehensive Photo Guide to Film Noir

Categories Applied Digital Studies

This project came a long way from its original proposal. For more details on that, check out my proposal post and my final reflection

What I have come up with is a series of noir inspired photos that showcase specific stylistic elements of film noir.

Film noir is traditionally defined as a style or genre of film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace.

The term was originally applied by a group of French New Wave artists and film critics to American thriller or detective films made in the period 1944–54 and to the work of directors such as Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder.

Traditional noir is basically always in black and white, while “neo-noir” films tend to incorporate color somehow.

Lighting is a major proponent of noir style.  Traditional photographic lightingthree-point lighting uses a key light, a fill light, and a back light for illumination. Low-key lighting often uses only one key light, optionally controlled with a fill light or a simple reflector.

This results in heavily shadowed images that make the environment the characters are in seem to loom down on them, reminding them, as well as the audience, that their fate is inescapably beyond their control.

Below are images that feature noir elements such as lighting and the grittiness of found environment. They were taken with an old Sony camcorder and edited only lightly in order to de-saturate them and up the contrast. My personal favorite is the chair lit by one side- it seems to allude to a murder mystery worthy of, and complete with, noir-esque hysteria and tropes.

Please forgive my claw in the first photo-I’m not a super model (yet).

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