Black and white photography is immediately associated with words such as “classic“, “nostalgia” or “timeless“. This happens to us when we see old images of our grandparents or great-grandparents. Did you know that photography has been with us for almost 200 years?
Black and white photography means that and much more for me. It is true that color defines my style. Light and airy images abound in my portfolio. Over 80% of the photographs that I deliver of weddings and sessions are in color, editorially describing the world of beauty and love surrounding an event or a couple. However, the remaining 20% of a gallery will consist of beautiful and epic black and white photography.
But, what makes me convert an image to black and white? It might seem almost random, but over time I have discovered my own criteria. A photograph has more meaning in black and white in the following cases:
- An image describing an epic moment, with genuine and spontaneous expressions.
- A photograph with a big emotional content, where emotions communicate on a deeper level.
- The images with movement work very well in black and white photography.
- Scenes with a complicated lighting often result in unflattering tones that are difficult to edit. Black and White Photography may be the solution!
- Some slightly out of focus images can be taken on a new life by turning them to black and white.
- An image with a bucolic flair, a “fine art” aesthetic, a poetic connotation …
- When the composition or the lighting in a photo makes the subject stand out from the background, creating a great sense of contrast.
These are the main cases that will make me convert from color to black and white photography. Here you have a selection of some of my favorites examples.
For more information about my general editing process, click here.
When B&W is the way to go
The Epic Moment
If an image describes an epic moment, with genuine and spontaneous expressions, it will be a clear candidate to turn into powerful black and white photography. In these cases, the color could detract from the action.
In a photograph with a great emotional content, feelings are so strong that they communicate on a deeper level. Hugs, cuddles, tears, cries…, result in powerful and emotional pictures. Color could be distracting in this case, so black and white is a win!
The “Fine Art” Aesthetic
An image with a bucolic flair, a “fine art” aesthetic, a poetic connotation … has all the chances of being very good black and white photography.
Movement All Around
The images with movement work very well in black and white. The incredible moments of energetic dances of the “after party”, an unexpected gust of wind or people moving in the background are great examples of that.
When the composition of a photo (creative framing) and / or an specific lighting (very dark backgrounds) make the subject stand out prominently from the scene, creating a great sense of contrast.
Problematic Lighting Scenario
There are times when the scene presents complicated lighting, such as the light generated by a fluorescent bulb. Also, lamp (warm color) and window light (cool color), each one with different color temperatures, are commonly mixed in interior scenes. These are situations that result in unflattering tones that are difficult to edit and the best solution may be to convert to beautiful black and white photography.
The Magic of Out-of-Focus Images
Some slightly out of focus images may appear to be discarded in the first selection.. However, these can be taken on a new life by turning them to black and white. It speaks “vintage” to me!