Noir Project - daveslifestylephotography

My Noir Project Blog

A self-assignment project I’ve been working on for a while is my “Noir Project”. It was inspired by my love for old movies and my desire to learn more about controlling light in my portraiture work. While the classic look from the old “film noir”movies were my inspiration you will see I don’t play by anyone’s rules. Not all the pictures are black and white. Most people don’t show up for the sessions with vintage attire. While I love the retro black and white dramatic look, I like to work in color too. The “noir” (black) style I’m wanting is more about creating interesting shadows and highlights. A “dramatic” style not restrained by the rules.

If you’re interested in breaking a few rules and working with me on this project please message me for more information. I’m always looking for “talent” to help. There’s always a little something for those who do.

Click on the cat to check out some of my noir favorites.

If you'd like to be updated with new blog content email me. I promise I won't overwhelm you with nonsense or share your information.

Noir Selfie

noir, film noir and neo noir
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I never enjoy being in front of the camera but one winter day with no one else to photograph I did the hard thing. Figured out noir photography suited the camera guy just fine.


noir, film noir and neo noir

No doubt one of my favorite pictures I’ve added to my project has been Carl’s. It started out as a family portrait session. Kind of a gangster theme shoot. Definitely original and a lot of fun. We decided to finish up the session at the old Katy Depot in Denison. One of the best things about my noir sessions is they are perfect for night photography and off camera flash. It takes a little patience from the model, I never know the “look” I’m looking for until I get it.

I entered this picture into the 2018 Oklahoma Professional Photographers print completion. It's been my highest scoring image so far, an 85 and received a "Judge's Choice" award.


noir, film noir and neo noir

Teryn has been a great model for this project. Always ready to try something creative. I caught more than a little flak over doing a portrait with a cigarette. The period film noir came from, smoking was almost mandatory. For the record though, the smoke is all Photoshop and I’m in no way promoting smoking, just breaking some of those rules I mentioned earlier. If my pictures get a reaction, I think I’ve succeeded. I do have a mischievousness streak in me that comes out from time to time in my photography.

Always trying new things, infrared photography has been an addition I’m still learning. It adds another tool in the camera bag and a different look. I never really know how portraits are going to turn out. An easy edit is to convert IR to black and white, perfect for noir. Strange thing is IR turns black to white. Some things are brilliant like vegetation and others are bland and don’t show up hardly. Most problematic are eyes. Unless lighting is directed into the eyes people have eyes like Frankenstein’s monster or zombie eyes. Might be a cool look for Halloween but not to glamorous. Mel was kind enough to let me experiment. I made the mistake of showing a picture straight out of the camera. I could tell she wasn’t very impressed. The end product is what matters though, right?


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A couple more from my most recent session with Melanie. Experimenting with an even more harsh lighting using barn doors and grids on my flash.

The thing about this project I think I like the best is doing something different. I think everyone I’ve photographed for this has had fun. I don’t think I’ve ever had someone want to have this style done for their family, senior or individual portraits so it makes it unique. I always give free prints to my helpers. No picture looks as good on a computer or smart phone as it does in print.

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George and Amber night time in Durant


OK, so it was supposed to be a night time noir session with Amber. George wasn’t in that plan but showed up dressed right. Wouldn’t want to leave him out! Turned out to be one of my favorite sessions. This couple was perfect for the dramatic look and the alleys of Durant made for a great location.

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Tiffany has been a go to model for my Noir Project. Always willing to try new things and is patient with the setup. This style ain't easy. Always a work in progress. It really makes the picture when the model comes with a real idea of what I’m trying to do and a wardrobe that works too. For the ‘look” it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Thrift and re-sale shops are the way to go. I’ve found everyone takes a different style of lighting to pull this off. The classic portraiture soft light that works so well is not what I’m looking for. I like the harsh shadows and highlights. Doit right and everything is cool. Do it wrong and I can make someone look hideous. No one needs hideous… well maybe a guy or two I know. Tiffany pulls off the elegant classic Hollywood look every time.

Teryn boudior noir

Teryn in Studio at Dave's LifeStyle Photography

Teryn has worked with me on several sessions. Always fun and comes prepared to really rock the look for any theme we want to work on. This session included a noir-boudoir aspect. I don't usually do boudoir for my Just for Fun projects but this time it worked and the noir project style is great for a sexy but conservative style I like.


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Chelsey came by for a first time Noir Project session. I like to do a studio session first just to get to know the people I work with, a kind of ice breaker and find out a little about their personality and style. Every session is unique and I like to fit the style to the person's personality. I can usually know after the studio session if the person will be good for location shoots and follow up with something even more "noir". I think Chelsey and I will make a great team and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next.


Cyndie came to the studio for a first time session for my Noir Project. I really like creating a story with my projects with props. It always helps when my helper is into the project and patient. This time I tried using available light, a lamp, strobes, and even a mix of all three.