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Beauty Retouching from the Early 1900s: A Portrait of Actress Joan Crawford That’s ‘Photoshopped’



Want to see an early example of beauty retouching in photography? Here’s one. The side-by-side images above from the early 1930s show what a glamour portrait looked like before and after manual ‘Photoshopping.’

Photographer George Hurrell shot the portrait of actress Joan Crawford as a publicity shot for the 1931 film Laughing Sinners. Here’s a closer look at the original, unretouched version of the photo:


Hurrell then passed the photograph to a retoucher named James Sharp, who spent six hours smoothing skin, removing spots, and erasing wrinkles. Sharp used a retoucher machine, which backlit and vibrated the original negative, allowing Sharp to physically smooth out the film using a pencil.

Here’s the ‘Photoshopped’ portrait that resulted:


For a look at what changed between the shots, check out this animated GIF comparison created by 1SweetChuck over on Reddit:


If you’re interested in the subject of early Hollywood beauty retouching, there are two books by author Mark A. Vieira you should check out: Hurrell’s Hollywood Portraits and George Hurrell’s Hollywood. You can also find a collection of Hurrell’s glamour portraits over on his estate collection website.

(via Reddit)

Image credits: Photographs by George Hurrell