Wallace Seawall Dies
I would like to pay homage to Wallace Seawell, who passed away last week at 90 years old.
Wallace was a damned good portrait photographer whose work, for me, was the epitome of the Hollywood style of the 1950's: lively and dramatic lighting, interesting posing, perfect exposure. Always a very crisp look. Even his "cheesecake" work had class. His photography is really an excellent reference of what thebest celebrity studio portraits of the era looked like. I defer the 1940's to Hurrell, et al.
I first came into contact with Wallace while researching and writing the Hollywood Portrait book with Roger Hicks. Wallace was the only surviving photographer I was able to contact from that era, and he generously and openly shared some of his "secrets". It was truly thrilling to hear, first hand, of his photo sessions with the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jayne Mansfield or Sofia Loren. The last time I spoke with him was just a couple of months ago. His lively spirit belied his years. We joked and spoke about his "big bash" birthday party, last September, and his photo session with Debbie Reynolds whom, he told me, lamented that, "Photographers nowadays [presumably, the 1960's] don't know lighting anymore. All they know are umbrellas". Wallace certainly knew how to light, beyond the easiness of umbrellas and softboxes.
Anyway, my attempt to honor him here with words are feeble compared to the excellent body of photography he has left behind to speak of him. There we'll find something which shouts, loud and clear. I'll miss him. Even by phone I could tell that he had a glint in his eye. An what an eye it was!
Thanks for this news. I guess I need to lose the umbrellas. HA! (Actually, haven't used them in years.)
Originally Posted by Pinholemaster
No slight intended against users of umbrellas! They have there place, too! (especially in the early days of color+flash in the studio, where lower lighting ratios were necessary for commercially viable negatives). Umbrellas, softboxes, spotlights, floodlights .. all, just different arrows in a photographer's quiver!
I think that Debbie Reynold's comment might have come from the fact that, with spotlights, the lighting must be more carefully adjusted than with umbrellas.. therefore the "star" might feel less catered-to. Just my guess.
(The 'spell check' in my brain was off) Umbrellas have their place . . .