DEL MAR — The popularity of retro dramas like “Mad Men” and the upcoming “Pan Am” series has Leslie Hoffman focusing on photographers from a bygone era, including George Hurrell and Eugene R. Richee.
“I am responding to an interest in going back to a better time,” she explained. “Ever since the early days of the Leucadia Flea Market, I’ve been in love with all things vintage.”
Hoffman uses her Canon camera as a time machine, transforming modern day subjects into iconic portraits from old Hollywood.
She said the idea came about three months ago when friend and author Diane Welch, posted a black and white photo of a star from the Golden Age of Movies on her Facebook page and asked the question, “Why doesn’t anyone take photographs anymore?”
“I knew in my heart that I’d be able to capture the innocent allure or overt sensuality of classic Hollywood portraiture,” Hoffman said. “Diane became my first subject and from that point, Vintage Lens by Leslie was born. Now all around me I see the vintage/retro trend exploding in movies, TV, fashion and a return to a time that was simpler, calmer and very glamorous.”
Hoffman said the funniest response she received from a client after looking at the finished photo was, “OMG, I just fell in love with myself!”
She is especially flattered when clients, including Welch, post their vintage photographs on their websites, business cards, social media and even business media such as Linkedin.
Erica Hecht, owner of EA Vintage, recently sat for a photo session.
“I have never had the opportunity before of sitting for this caliber of photograph,” she explained. “Leslie is able to retouch a photograph to create a moment that makes you almost believe that you are living in that era.”
Hoffman is grateful to the many people who have supported her work by giving her everything from vintage hats to strings of pearls. Currently, she is looking for a long cigarette holder and the loan of a vintage automobile.
Hoffman entered the field of photography in the 1970s, learning all aspects of the field, beginning in the darkroom. She progressed from architectural photography in the Bay Area to photographing children in North County.
Unlike children’s portraiture, where a parent brings their children to the studio to begin work, Hoffman offers a complimentary consultation to explore the client’s own vision, and the period in their life they’d like to return to.
“From that point we discuss clothing they already have, or clothing in my collection they could wear,” Hoffman explained. “They try on gloves, fur stoles, etc., all of them entirely frivolous and whimsical items.”
Cost ranges from $400 to $1,200 which includes champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
Hoffman said that the two components to a great vintage photograph are the raw photograph followed by skin softening, eye brightening and line removal she does using Photoshop.
She has two mentors. Ex-husband Steven Hoffman, who owns Modern Postcards in Carlsbad, taught her photography. Friend Gene Nocon, famed photographer to the British Royal Family, passed on his mastery in the digital darkroom through using Photoshop.
Hoffman will be a part of the Vintage Voyage, scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 10 at the historic Burnham House near Balboa Park. The charity event, which supports the San Diego Symphony Foundation, will also showcase Erica Hecht, EA Vintage fashions; Diane Y. Welch, award-winning author of “Lilian J. Rice: Architect of Rancho Santa Fe, California;” and Diana Cavagnaro, designer milliner. Cougar Vineyards & Winery and Cork & Platter Catering are providing wine and hors d’oeuvres. For tickets and information visit cougarwineryvintagevoyage.eventbrite.com.
For more information about Leslie Hoffman Photography, visit lesliehoffmanphotography.com, e-mail [email protected] or call (760) 481-2633.