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November 30, 2022

Ava Balbuena

The Golden Age: thin high brows; bold swashes of blush; soft, brushed curls - Hollywood’s peak. We all know exactly what it looks like. The Big River Management Area lies in West Greenwich, totaling 8,600 acres of open land. The land was initially condemned for water supply purposes and was a former quarry site, but remains almost completely undeveloped. Across the tract you can find a forest, wetlands, agricultural land, and sand dunes. It is atop these sandy drifts that F@b’s 2022 Fall Photoshoot took place.

For many of the models, this was their first F@b shoot, or even their first experience modeling. Some had walked for Brown Fashion Week in the past, but hadn’t yet modeled in a shoot. One model, June Dike, compared her participation to when she modeled for the spring fashion show, explaining that the shoot was a much more “cohesive, creative, and collaborative” process. Models were more included in the creative process, and they were able to communicate their personal preferences with Hair and Makeup. Being involved in their looks made the models much more comfortable and confident– they’ve lived in their bodies their whole lives and know how they look and what flatters them better than anyone else.

Collaboration and flexibility were major themes of the day, and the divisions between different teams blurred as the shoot progressed. The Photography team acted as models for the first hour of the shoot while waiting for the actual models to arrive. Naomi Deokule, a member of the Business team, joined the shoot as a photographer. Madelyn Amoo-Otoo and Fernanda Chavez, of Industry Programming and Social Media respectively, were chosen as models after attending the F@b Model Call earlier this semester. Though the shoot only needed photographers and models, members of various teams came together to observe or contribute. Everyone wanted to, and was able to, be a part of the Fall Photoshoot. Thus, the outcome was a product that everyone could be proud of, not just one team.

The inspiration for this year’s shoot, first came from the Photography team’s choice of location. They considered an indoor location, but ultimately felt that the sandy hills would provide a more captivating backdrop, regardless of their theme. The goal was to refocus the old ideas of glamor and beauty on people of color, which led them to selecting the Golden Age of Hollywood. “The Golden Age was so white,” Christian Wu explained. “We wanted to redesign what that looked like, but with more diversity.”

The Golden Age of Hollywood began with the introduction of sound and studio systems to movies. Producers created a brand new kind of cinema with audio and novel editing techniques. By completely reinventing the film, they set the stage for a new, more profitable age in Hollywood based on the widespread use of movie theaters. Actors and actresses hoping to break into the industry flocked to Hollywood, where directors and producers quickly pumped out high quality films starring their new talent. It was the Golden Age that created the idea of a movie star, aligning with the rise of early celebrity culture, a force that shapes society today. F@B’s Fall Photoshoot was about reenvisioning what films of the Golden Age could have looked like if it had been refocused around people of color. Models draped in pearls hiked up the hill, holding their heels and fans in either hand. Reaching the peak of the sand drifts, they brushed the sand from their silk and checked they hadn't lost any of their face gems. There was a stark contrast between the models’ attire and their setting. Emma Rosenthal, a member of the Photography team, described the idea of creating discordance between theme and location: “It’s a super barren landscape, but super glam models.”

These two components, models and setting, both had a sort of intensity about them. Looking as if they’ve stepped out of a time machine, the subjects of the photos are immediately eye-catching, while their background of trees and sand seems so removed from the glamor, structure, and technology that composed the Golden Age. The dissonance between subject and setting created a juxtaposing harmony. The 2022 Fall Photoshoot opened up the season for F@B, setting the tone for a year of collaboration between teams and a more interwoven community. The Photography team brought to life an era long gone, re-imagining it as it could have, and really should have, been.

Intentionally and unintentionally, the photoshoot established a wonderful sense of inclusivity and community for the upcoming year.

Works Cited

Fagin, Steve. Traipsing through the 'Rhode Island Desert', 26 Aug. 2021,

Heckmann, Chris. “When Was the Golden Age of Hollywood - and Why Did It End?” StudioBinder, 20 Dec. 2021,

Matt. “When Was the Golden Age of Hollywood: The Complete History.” Filmmaking Lifestyle,

“Ri Water Resources Board.” BRMA Land Use Plan Guidelines - RI Water Resources Board,

W., Audrey. “The Rise and Fall of Hollywood's Golden Age.” Arcadia Publishing,

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