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Making up for the past

Tech High project re-creates portraits of the stars

Tech High project re-creates portraits of the stars

February 22, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - It took as much as an hour to style hair and apply makeup, and another hour of posing and lighting adjustments, but about 15 Washington County Technical High School students were able to recreate the past.

Students from the school's digital communications and cosmetology classes collaborated to recreate images of well-known stars of the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s. John Jones, a digital communications teacher, said the project has lasted several weeks.

"We're using our modern technology trying to replicate what was done 60 years ago," he said.

Cosmetology students spent time studying the styles of the stars before trying to replicate the images.

Alicia Neiser, a senior cosmetology student, was having dark red lipstick applied Wednesday morning as some of her classmates perfected her 1940s hairstyle. She said she was modeling a Hedy Lamarr photo.

Keikei Tibbs, a junior, said the historical styles they researched were very different from the ones they had been trained to perfect in class.

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"There was one day of practice where we tested the different (makeup and products) to know what worked best," Alicia said.

Before the photo shoots, the students applied makeup to models, mimicking photos they had seen. They also styled the models' hair after the women in the photos.

The communications students learned a lot about lighting to complete the project, which Jones said can be a challenge.

"I had used a flash before, but we didn't really use this kind of lighting," said Aysha Smith, a senior.

After the photos were taken, the digital communications students altered them in Adobe Photoshop, creating a black-and-white effect.

Jones said, that with the effects of makeup and lighting, one single scene can be very "powerful."

When students have completed the project, he said he would like to display the original photos and the student-created replicas publicly.

"These are examples of technical and artistic skill," he said.

While the communications students were working on lighting, the cosmetology students learned that regular makeup wouldn't hold up under the bright lights.

Their teacher, Marie Bikle, said a heavier makeup was needed because the lights penetrate the first layer.

Sara Shoemaker, a student who photographed Alicia on Wednesday, said she wanted to get the right shade on Alicia's face to replicate the photo with which she was working.

Andrea Bemisderfer, a senior digital communications student, said she chose to work with Amy Cochrane, a junior cosmetology student, because she looked the most like the picture of Joan Crawford that Andrea had chosen.

Amy was photographed last week. On Wednesday, Andrea was altering the image on a computer.

"I shot a lot of pictures," Andrea said. "So, I'm going through those now to see which look like the best replicas."

Jones said the project has relevance for the students, who will be able to use all of the skills they used in the project in potential careers.

Brandon Routzahn, a senior digital communications student, said he hopes to work in the photography field after graduation. He said that not only can he use the technical skills he learned on the project, but the knowledge about fashion will also be important.

"A lot of the fashion magazines you see, they are going back to using this type of lighting," he said.

Alicia said she plans to use the photos taken of her Wednesday in a modeling portfolio.

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