Swing Era Retouching – Yes, They Did It Back Then Too



Much like any fashion photograph today, Joan Crawford got the swing era equivalent of today’s digital airbrushing. Bye bye freckles, wrinkles, dark circles and brow furrows! The difference? This retouching was all done painstakingly by hand, and took around 6 hours. Click here to read more about Hollywood photographer-to-the-stars George Hurrell.

3 thoughts on “Swing Era Retouching – Yes, They Did It Back Then Too”

  1. He got rid of her neck lines as well – and one clavicle is just…missing in the second photo (that’s a little creepy).
    She didn’t have freckles in her movies, either – I wonder how they managed that. (I hope it wasn’t by hand retouching… although that certainly would have kept a lot of people employed.)

  2. The makeup they used for black and white film was thick and flat, like theatrical greasepaint (ie: more like face paint than what we call foundation today), so it covered up absolutely everything. Think about it – the film was black and white, so the colour of the foundation didn’t even need to match the actor’s skin tone. I’ve read stories about actors looking like clowns on the set, but the effect that comes out on black and white film is porcelain perfect skin. That all had to change when colour film came in of course. Max Factor was the big innovator in cosmetics for cinema. He even won an Oscar for it in the 1920s. Check out the wiki article about him for more info. Actually, he’s so interesting, maybe I’ll write a full post on him sometime soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *