Film Noir-style Engagement Photos from a 1920s-Themed Shoot


Belgian photographer Filip Bunkens recently did an engagement photo shoot with a couple named Mattias and Adinda, who proposed that it be 1920s-themed. Last Sunday morning they gathered at a local jazz bar for the session.

Bunkens worked with stylist Linda Van Waesberge and his girlfriend Sara for the outfits and props. A fog machine was brought to the location for creating a smokey environment.

Everything was shot on a Mamiya RB67 medium format SLR film camera and a 90mm lens. His film of choice was Rollei Retro 80s black and white negative film. Bunkens tells us that he tested the light using a DSLR and some black and white exposure Polaroid 672 pack film.

After 5 hours of changing the light, decor, and outfits, Bunken ended up exposing two rolls of 10 frames.









Here’s an interesting thing about some of Bunkens’ shoots (including this one): he leaves it up to the clients to decide how much they want to pay after they receive the finished photographs.

Engagement shoot 1920′s style: Mattias and Adinda [PitsLamp]

Image credits: Photographs by Filip Bunkens and used with permission

  • That Guy

    Those poor highlights… Bring them back :'(

  • val1s

    film would have made these alot more convincing

  • lidocaineus

    Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, he did use film.

  • Filip Bunkens

    @val1s they are on film. Rollei retro 80s is black and white film. They are shot on a Mamiya RB67.

  • Filip Bunkens

    They are shot on rollei retro 80s black and white film with my mamiya RB67.

  • Filip Bunkens

    On paper there are highllghs, but my scanner isn’t the greatest.

  • lidocaineus

    Agree with @27715fcf30820f4fb968a2588d6bb467:disqus – the photos seem muted. If anything, old film noir stuff was crazy high contrast with high levels of vignetting. These are a bit more flat. Also the fog machine needed to be utilized better – it just looks like a column of smoke in most of these (caveat: working with smoke/fog is difficult). The second shot irks me the most – the shadows appear way too accentuated, as if the photo was run through a digital contrast enhancing filter and separated out skin tones way too much. Or it was just odd lighting.

    Admirable effort (giant fan of film noir) but the execution, in my opinion, leaves something to be desired.

  • Filip Bunkens

    @lidocaineus: I agree, the photos do seem a bit flat on screen, but that’s mainly because of the scanner. I have the paper ones in front of me here and they have a way better contrast ratio.

    I cleaned the dust and did a bit of sharpening/levels on the scans.

  • steve

    What is the better goto: Fog machine or Dry Ice?

  • cnavey

    I feel like this is just a bad attempt to do something cool.

  • WhiskyTeats

    Despite the negativity of the comments, this looks like a fun shoot.

  • Filip Bunkens

    depends if you want to have the smoke/fog on the floor or floating around.

    on the floor use dry ice otherwise use a fog machine.

  • Filip Bunkens

    it was a fun shoot to do.

  • DamianM

    Good attempt but there is always room for improvement.

    I do have to say that to achieve a better look of film noir would be to use 35 mm film.
    Like when wanting to make an old hollywood style portrait use a 4×5.

    on the 3rd to last picture, is that clarity boost?

  • Filip Bunkens

    @DamianM thx, off course there’s room for improvement.

    I could be that there is some clarity boost, because it’s difficult to keep the film flat in the scanner which leads to softer pictures.

  • DamianM

    Clarity boost in Photoshop/Lightroom?

    Makes it look “sweaty”.

    But I understand your problem with flatness. maybe try sharpness instead of clarity.

  • light_water

    The film exposed and processed from this shoot will outlast the couple. Hard to say that about un-maintained digital files. Jolly Good Show.

  • jon

    I applaud these efforts at creating an interesting and different engagement shoot. Its really hard to do different engagement shots. Look at whats out there. Its all the same.

  • Filip Bunkens

    Thank you.

  • Koke Momo

    And this is why we, you know, READ.

    It really disrespects the artist if you can’t take the time to read information pertaining to photos if it is provided. Yes, some can argue that you should be able to take everything from a photo but when it comes to online commenting; it should be the first thing we do; so we don’t make stupid comments like the above.

  • Koke Momo

    Please research film noir.
    Often times highlights are blown in this style of film photography.

  • Cinema Photography

    The post work could be sorted out better, I love the concept, but the semi hdr effect kills it. Vintage images, specifically noir themes,have a very specific look. Source: Im a vintage photographer.

  • Seth Reddington

    As others have said, it’s nice to see a creative take on engagement photos. Well done. Were the customers pleased with the result?

  • Filip Bunkens

    They were very pleased and in the end that’s what is important

  • Filip Bunkens

    The digital photos were never the goal, so the digital post could have been beter and the semi hdr is not on purpose.
    For the clients, I’m printing the photos in my darkroom, so the dynamic range is a lot bigger so lots of the problems with the digital are gone.

  • Samuel

    Love these, brings an audrey hepburn qualirty to low key photography.
    I do however imagine these look even more spectacular on a good 8×10 wet print.

    Nice work

  • val1s

    Reading is over rated ;)

    I saw the second picture and the flesh tones looked to me like an RGB – GRY conversion, which turn out flat sometimes. Also surprised the way the seersucker suit flattened out. I see basically no evidence of film grain either. Few things together made me assume it wasn’t film.

    Its really to bad its so hard to get a whole of real film scanners these days.

  • dudung10

    not hating but these hurt my eyes