One of the many pleasures that the award-winning AMC series Mad Men offers is a full-scale survey of retro cool. Every hairdo, advertisement, and household appliance onscreen comes bathed in seemingly effortless period authenticity. It all looks so natural and convincing that it feels rather jarring to take a peek behind the curtain and see it coming together.
Los Angeles-based photographer James Minchin III visited the set of Mad Men a number of times and documented the experience. The resulting images, taken both on and off the set (and dating back to 2010), temporarily break the show’s spell and shed some light on how much effort it must take to turn floppy-haired actor Jon Hamm into slicked-back adman Don Draper, and a soundstage into the 1960s. Although the pictures are indeed artful and illuminating, seeing the actors hovering over a MacBook is a little like seeing the smoke and mirrors behind the stage while still entranced by the illusion.