Classic, Timeless, Raw – three words that are often used when describing monochromatic imagery.
I just love black & white photography; it’s where my original love affair with photography as an art form first began. I can remember in the late 1990s rolling my own films onto cannisters, squinting in the low red light and that akin to alchemy, near-magical process associated with developing film and prints in a darkroom.
I’d never give up digital now but film was definitely where my journey first began.
Those who know my work will know that I’m a big fan of monochromatic images. I provide many images as black & white files as part of my wedding packages – I’ll often, where it suits provide a colour and a black & white version of an image. It’s very easy to provide both by doing a conversion during the course of post production.
I always know whether an image will look good as a black and white at the time of shooting, in the same way I of course always try to get lighting and composition nailed at the taking stage. A lot of the job of a wedding photographer is pre-empting things and getting yourself into the best position to capture that perfect light or that special moment; people watching is the biggest part of the job and also by far my favourite bit.
When a photograph is about human emotion – which there is such a lot of during a typical wedding day, there is just something about black & white that tells the story that colour somehow can’t. It’s easier without the distraction of colour to focus on the subject and to really feel those emotions come through.
I love to look for unusual angles – that’s probably my art background coming in, backlight works well and a creative use of depth of field also creates interest in the composition. Photography is really just painting with light, with shadow being the canvas and light the paint. I always use natural light wherever possible as it’s more flattering and whilst sometimes using available light can create a challenge it’s far less intrusive than using flash for capturing those special moments in time.
The concept that images without colour increase the emotion that they portray certainly isn’t a new thought. Photographer Ted Grant who is widely regarded as the Father of Canadian photojournalism once said . . .
When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!
and do you know – I think he could just be right.