Fashion Photographer Showcases Timeless Beauty by Creating Self-Portraits of All Decades Since 1900

You’ll think she discovered time travel.

1930’s – The Decade of Depression

Despite the 1930’s being remembered for “The Great Depression”, it’s important to remember that a lot of good came out of this decade as well. If you can remember back to 1930, you can say you were alive when the planet Pluto (yes, there was a time when Pluto was still considered a planet) was discovered, the Empire State Building was completed, and the cheeseburger was invented. The 1930’s saw the release of the first full-length animated cartoon, “Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, and DC’s Superman first appeared in comic books. Perhaps the most significant breakthrough of the 1930’s that has carried through to today, however, was the invention of air conditioning.

Image courtesy Hope Renae Fischer, Copyright © 2015, Hope Renae Photography
Image courtesy Hope Renae Fischer, Copyright © 2015, Hope Renae Photography

Hope found that the black and white era photos from this shoot posed their own unique challenges. Within the confines of black and white, she completely lacked the element of mood as we’ve grown accustomed to in our color saturated world. By carefully studying other photos from these generations, she was able to differentiate between the black and white decades by adjusting contrast, levels, and brightness in order to closely mirror the look that the cameras from these decades would have captured. The lower level of detail and lack of color in these first few portraits came with its advantages too. For example, she didn’t have a fascinator available to her for this 1930’s picture, so the white hair piece in it is actually made out of tissue paper, something she may not have been able to get away with in a more modern photo in high resolution.

1940’s – A World at War, Again

The 1940’s, dominated by World War II, were easily among the darkest time periods in human history. Through this decade, humanity as a whole was tested. Even in the midst of the tragedy, incredible stories such as those of Anne Frank, Oscar Schindler, and others proved once again that there was still good in this world. Aside from the somberness of the war, the 1940’s had positive notes as well. The world was given the microwave oven, the first computer, the ball point pen, and a major fashion innovation some readers may be familiar with called, simply, the T-shirt.

Image courtesy Hope Renae Fischer, Copyright © 2015, Hope Renae Photography
Image courtesy Hope Renae Fischer, Copyright © 2015, Hope Renae Photography

In an interview with PopMalt, Hope spoke of the challenges she faced with this project, especially when it came to recreating looks from the past without the bias of modern day beauty standards. She wanted to move away from what society told her about beauty in an effort to not only resurrect old-fashioned beauty, but to actually take time to consider what made women from each decade beautiful. Hope also said she now has a new respect for women who had to do the finger wave hairstyle and draw on their own eyebrows on a regular basis.

1950’s – The Decade of Rock ‘n’ Roll

The 1950’s came with their fair share of diversity. In the entertainment world, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe’s careers began, Disneyland opened, LEGO bricks were invented, Charles Schulz created Charlie Brown and the “Peanuts” cartoon, and Dr. Suess released “The Cat in the Hat”. DNA was discovered, NASA was founded, color TV was invented, and color photography began to be introduced.

Image courtesy Hope Renae Fischer, Copyright © 2015, Hope Renae Photography
Image courtesy Hope Renae Fischer, Copyright © 2015, Hope Renae Photography

It may have been hard to spot if 50’s photos were all in black and white, but if there’s one thing that defines this decade, it was red lipstick in full color. For this photograph, Hope tried to mimic the vintage look of color-retouched movie posters from this decade. She also noted in her research that the 50’s were a time of big smiles and happy faces, moreso than most of the other decades. Thanks to her long distance relationship, her boyfriend got the experience of video chatting with her (and laughing at her) while she was dolled up for many of these photo shoots. Being a big 50’s guy himself, it didn’t surprise her that her 50’s photo was his favorite.

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Written by Andrew Fischer

Andrew Fischer is the Head Writer and Editor-in-Chief of PopMalt. He is an avid follower of all things pop and Internet culture, and works as Creative Director at NURV, a boutique creative multimedia and digital marketing company. He is also the founder of The Jericho Joe.