Rudolph Valentino was a star of the silver screen during the silent era. His most famous picture was The Sheik and he was often called The Latin Lover. Rudolph Valentino was a good looking fellow and he was lucky enough to work at a time when the great Hollywood Photographers were working. George Hurrell, Sinclair Bull, and many other pioneers of the Hollywood Lighting worked on the Silent Film Stars-perfecting both their techniques and the legends of stars like Rudolph Valentino.
This portrait of Rudolph Valentino is classic Hollywood Glamor. The expression is serious and much of the face is hidden in shadow. The body is turned at a sharp angle, the eyes are cut away from the camera, and he holding a cigarette-all things you don’t see too often in modern Hollywood Portraits. But there is no question that it is a strong portrait and brings out the mystery and power of Rudolph Valentine-Latin Lover.
The harsh light on the right side of Rudolph Valentino’s face leaves a reverse Rembrandt Light, in that there is a triangle of shadow instead of a triangle of light. I often use this kind of lighting myself when I am shooting single men or high school age boys. With a strong jawline and smooth skin it makes for a hansom portrait. With a slightly flabby jawline and wrinkles, it makes for a portrait with a lot of character. In my own work I try to get some light in the eyes, as a portrait without catch lights tends to look a bit sinister.
There are also a lot of Silent Era Hollywood Portraits of Rupolph Valentino in profile, though shooting profiles shots has fallen much out of favor in recent years. I think the main reason for this is that most modern portrait photographers don’t know how to shoot a good profile shot. I know that I find it a challenge most of the time when I try. But maybe if I shoot more of them, it would get easier. Using a side light and creating shadows was not easy when I first starting shooting shots this one either, but now it just one more tool I can use when the right subject walks into my studio.