A few years ago I saw images from the Sydney Police Photographs exhibition online and thought they where so very interesting that I would love to try replicate the look.
So I finally got around to trying it out with my friend Mathew Dobson. While not someone that would be a typical groomed look of that era, he did have suits on hand and was all to happy to jump in front of the camera.
The tricky thing about trying to emulate a photo from 1920's is technology has changed somewhat in regards to cameras, film and development. Back then they used large wet plate cameras. Basically the size of the rendered image was about 5 times bigger than the sensor on today's 35mm DSLR. This does a few things, but mainly the focal depth is very different than can be achieve today without actually using a large format camera.
Solution is to use a technique called The Brenizer Method. Simply you take the photos using a long lens but up close and then stitch them together like a panorama image, except it's a portrait. It gives you very similar depth of field as a large format camera and huge file sizes.
So I successfully created the images with around 9 photos each. The processed them in Photoshop to have the same colour and texture of a vintage wet plate photo. For added effect I also wrote on the images like they did back in the 1920's. Excuse the handwriting, I am much more adapt at a keyboard (most of the time).
Overall I am very happy with the first attempt at this style and hopefully can challenge a few more friends to get their 1920's mug and rap sheet out.