Balcony girl


How old do you think this girl is? I’d think late teens or early twenties, but I’m really not very good at guessing ages. She looks very composed, calm, relaxed which, to my mind, makes this studio photograph rather unusual.

As a colourist, I am struck by things that other people may not notice. For instance, sometimes the backdrop in these photos is spread out beneath the subject, this one ends on the floor just behind her. That makes things easier for me! It means there is a difference between background and floor and it creates more of a sense of reality – makes it more familiar. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a more noticeable backdrop would make it look more unreal?  But what I am trying to achieve is different from what the photographer might have wanted: a glimpse into the actual event.

Colour-wise, I wanted to make the girl stand out from the background as much as possible because of the over-solidity of the balcony prop, so I made her skirt a deep red, bordering on brown. That contrasts with the green backdrop. The ragged ribbon-bow on her long plait is a similar colour but moving toward the purple part of the spectrum – that makes it less prominent than her skirt, but still makes it stand out, otherwise her hair might not have been so noticeable.   I wonder, in fact, if the plait is a false addition to her real hair as a lot of studio photographers used to lend clothes to their clients. Many wedding photos of earlier periods were not taken with the actual dresses and suits the bride and groom would have worn, but ones the photographer supplied. The possible reason being that the photoshoot would have been some time after the actual event.

I made her blouse a cream colour to soften the image and go with her mood.

Do you have vintage family photos taken in photographic studios? What have you noticed in them?


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