French New Wave the Mora Way

August 8, 2011

By Barbara Goldman

© Lou Mora

French New Wave fashion and lifestyle spread shot for Rue Magazine at Chateau Marmont.

Think  Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Jeanne Moreau, Henri Serre,  Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut,  Eric Rohmer and you are mired in French New Wave Cinema.   French New Wave Cinema was produced in the late 1950s up to the early 70s and was a movement that produced work about breathless love triangles, Parisian gangster anti-heroes and couples falling in love all against a backdrop of political and social upheavals for the time. The characters were groundbreaking, fascinating to look at,  had an interest in the world of the arts and lived bohemian lifestyles.

But what all of these movies had in common besides a new, youthful burst of iconoclasm and intoxicating new stars were tight budgets, short timelines to film, casting that was done among and with friends of the directors and then shot in their own homes to save on production costs.

Sound familiar? Not unlike what many photographers have to deal with today when they want to test an idea and see where it leads them.  Fashion, portrait and lifestyle photographer Lou Mora, based in Los Angeles, along with his stylist Steph Ashmore, decided to try their hand at a test shoot with the French New Wave Cinema concept in mind. They wanted to tell a story of a day in the life of a young couple falling in love, and as it happened   the timing was perfect.  Executive Editor Anne Sage of the stylish Rue Magazine was looking for an international theme for her July/ August issue.  “We were so excited when our good friends, photographer Lou Mora and stylist Steph Ashmore, approached us with their concept for this shoot. They’d been wanting to do something inspired by the 1962 film Jules et Jim for a while, and we were thrilled to work with them to produce it.

For this kind of assignment, finding the right talent was critical and always takes time. Mora and his stylist were after a very specific look. In this instance they could not go to friends but contacted talent agencies in the L.A. area.  He explained the theme and wanted  a man with a European look but who still had an edge  like in the Barney’s Co-op ads or French icon Jean-Paul Belmondo and a young woman with a short pixie-like haircut,  or a darker version of  actress Jean Seberg. Mora handled all casting and did final selections, which came from L.A. Models, one of the most well known  agencies in the business.

Mora French New wave

Executive Editor Sage and Mora both wanted  to capture the allure and sensuality of French New Wave cinema style.  Mora thought that the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood would be the ideal backdrop  for the shoot.  The Chateau Marmont  has its own legendary history and is known for its luxurious bungalows that are reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour.  “The bungalow we shot in was the very same where James Dean stayed when he lived at the Marmont, which added a definite air of très cool to the day!” adds Sage.
The shoot went very smooth for Mora. He had his regular crew on hand and had no problems during day shooting. He primarily works with natural light but did have to bring in a 500w hot light for  the kitchen and living room scenes to bring up the ambient light.  For Equipment he used  the Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EOS 1n and the  Contax G2 (film was Kodak 400NC and Ilford 3200 black and white).

Mora’s finished classic and romantic images have been published in Rue Magazine,  on Refinery29, and a selection has also been posted  on his blog. “Shooting with Lou was such a pleasure. He knows exactly what he wants and how to get it, yet at the same time he’s very chill and laid back on set; the opportunity to work with photographers like Lou–and the ability to give him a platform for his art–are the reason we started Rue in the first place!,” says Sage.

Mora has been shooting  portraits and lifestyle professionally for  four years and  in that time has developed an A-list client roster that includes: Ford,  Bank of America, Pfizer, Nike, Shure, Asics, Alere,  Intel,  Team Detroit, Hill Holiday,  Mires+ Ball and Cline Davis & Mann just to name a few.  He believes that “less is more” and that simple philosophy is certainly evident in his clean yet very lush cinematic and sophisticated imagery. You can see more of the Lou Mora style at, and drop in on his blog for other current assignments.

 Lou Mora