Vassilis Tangoulis Borrows the Mysterious Mood of Film Noir for his Landscapes

All images by Vassilis Tangoulis. Used with Creative Commons permission.

When we speak of film noir, we are instantly transported to the classic crime movies of Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Its distinct stylized imagery may have its origins in the movie world, but Greek photographer Vassilis Tangoulis thought of exploring the look it creates for moody monochrome landscapes.

Understanding what makes something fit the “Film Noir” aesthetic is one thing, as Vassilis has mentioned in his project description. “In the early 1940s, a style of movie making called ‘Film Noir,’ a French phrase literally meaning ‘black film,’ was developed. The name refers to a genre of mostly black-and-white American films with bleak subject matter, downbeat tone, and low-key lighting.” This style is so iconic that it remains one of the most commonly reproduced themes whenever vintage aesthetics are called for.

In photography, we typically see the “Film Noir” look applied to portraits, street photography, and conceptual photography. For his set simply titled Noir Frames, Vassilis wanted to apply its mysterious mood to long exposure landscape photos taken close to sunset or at night. The original plan was to do the project mostly with landscapes but he decided to include some people in the frames as well. The result is a striking, mostly minimalist collection of landscape snaps featuring both nature, man-made structures, and some people.

While the subject matter veers away from the traditional meaning of “Film Noir”, we can certainly see it as a moody take on landscape photography. It may not have bleak subject matter, but I think Vassilis succeeded in rendering his shooting locations with a touch of noir mystery. With Noir Frames being an ongoing project, I’d like to see him explore more ominous visual narratives in this style. Maybe his human subjects can take on roles, with the landscapes serving as an eerie setting.

Check out Vassilis Tangoulis’ Behance portfolio to show your appreciation for Noir Frames and see the rest of his works.