Why black and white portraits?
Model: Candice MUA: Baiba Fröhlich

Why black and white portraits?

“Why are 85% of your photos black and white?” a good friend of mine recently asked. “I’m sorry it’s not 100%, but some photos I just feel works better with color” I replied, but judging from the emoji’s I received that wasn’t really the answer he expected.

Black and white portraits I find have the potential to convey more emotions and timelessness than color portraits. As my photography taste and skills have evolved over the last few years I’ve gone from at more or less random impulse to try a monochrome edit on a photo to do it by default.

Model: Julia Zu

What type of photography suits black and white?

Not only can black and white be a good choice in my view in most situations and subjects; landscape, architecture, animals, editorial, etc.
It can also often help when lighting conditions are difficult, in low light conditons or in an area where the color of the light is very varied.

Concerts are an obvious place for black and white. Can increase ISO quite a lot without it showing on a modern DSLR – This photo was shot at ISO 5000.
Band: Joe Rusi Trio
An old building like this in the snow, no point of having color here.
Upstate New York

Is black and white always the answer?

When the color plays a large part or is the most important aspect in what I want to photograph I go color. Most times these days it is very obvious what works and what doesn’t. Other times both works equally well.

Is black and white always the answer?
Here I felt both worked equally well, so I included both.
From my book “Sinba – Adventures of Sinba: Gran Canaria
Model: Sinba

Is black and white always black and white?

I must admit I know very few photographers by name that I don’t actually don’t know personally. Quite a few I recognize by name when I see it, but but on top of my head… probably not. Ask me about movies instead and I might start rambling…

Ansel Adams is one of the few I am familiar with and will eagerly talk about. He is probably best known for his legendary landscape photos, but for me, it’s his zone system that has probably mattered the most to me. I feel his system is something everyone should be familiar with. It will not only help when editing, but also it will help one learning to understand and judge light.

In photography, I feel that I’m very laid back and non-judgemental, but when it comes to black and white photography I feel a photo need to have if not the full specter from pure black to pure white then at least not just 3 shades of grey, at least try 50 shades 🙂

I prefer black and white photos that have a strong contrast. Photos that have a bit more oompf to them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not by any way saying everyone should do what I do, far from it.

Model: Candice MUA: Baiba Fröhlich

Breaking this and other photography rules with intent is of course not an issue.
A grey, foggy day doesn’t have to have black tones, it can set an awesome mood.
A high key image might break this, or have only a very little of the dark zones covered and a low key the other way around.

Hi Key photo from first time I shot with Sinba – 2015

This subject is vast. I have just barely scratched some of my own thoughts and views on black and white photography. What are yours?

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