The Noire City



I spent a lot of my youth watching Tv. Sometime when I was really young I must have come into contact with some noire films over the tube. I seemed to have a very strong affinity for this genre of film without knowing what they were called. These films felt different to me. There were also a fair amount television programs that fell into that category like Perry Mason and The Untouchables. Another show that I watched had moments of noire – 77 Sunset Strip.

Throughout my life I have enjoyed seeing photos and films that have a noire feel. I liked the strong, deep shadows and how the actors revealed themselves by emerging from or hiding in darkness. I never intentionally tried to mimic this in my own photography until recently. In the last two years I have been trying to see city scenes through a noire point of view. It’s not always an easy thing to do, living in a fairly new-looking city like Minneapolis. But I have managed to find some subject matter and times of day (even seasons) to make noire type images that conjure a “sleepless city” and an air of mystery and intrigue. I do my best to make the place I photograph not readily recognizable so that the mood of the moment is the more dominant.

 About These Images

There are two main types of noire type images I try to capture – so far. Street scenes and small, intimate spaces with deep shadows. (I plan to do a third type which will include actors).

The first photo is a street scene around dusk. The image is intentionally blurred for effect. It’s like the bustling background into which the protagonist enters. Noire films are normally B&W but I felt the color in this case made the image more interesting.

The second image was made when the sun was low and cast long shadows into the entrance of an historic old building. I put my shadow in the photo to add some mystery and tension. Being at the right place at the right time is key to getting these images when working without lighting equipment and a crew.

I just recently started shooting this way. It will be interesting to see what happens when I put more time and resources into these images.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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