Photographer: John Engstead. 1951 Degree of difficulty: Fairly easy (3 lights)
i coulda had class, I coulda been a contender/ mumbled the young Marlon Brando, Jr., in On the Waterfront (1954), which brought him his first Academy Award after being nominated in 1951, 1952, and 1953. Almost 20 years later, in 1972, he found himself up against himself for Academy Awards in two movies: The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris (The Godfather won). As he grew older, critical acclaim grew more mixed: everyone agreed that he had a monstrous talent, though they sometimes differed in their use of the word 'monstrous/
The 'hot' light on the nose and lip is, to coin a phrase, a 'sneer light/ Combine it with his left eye disappearing almost completely into menacing shadow, and you have the epitome of a young tough, lounging against a lamppost. For a more conventional effect, either the light would be pulled back a little, so as not to strike the nose, or Brando would have been asked to turn his face slightly more towards the camera. The T-shirt could hardly be used to advertise washing powder, but deliberately 'punk' clothing should always be treated with caution: too much grubbiness and ripping can distract attention from the subject, and artificial dirtying can look all too obvious.
The key is high and to camera left, as evidenced by the shadows of the brow, nose, and chin; the hair appears to have been flagged off. A broad, flagged backlight from camera nght lights the hair, the left arm, and. of course, the left temple, nose, and lip; this is the 'sneer light' mentioned above. There docs not appear to be any fill, but the background is separately lit.
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