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Black and white portrait photography

Black and white portraits are a classic that will never fade away. Even as time goes by, black and white photography will remain a popular choice. With colour out of the picture, emotion is one of the main things that comes up in black and white portrait photography. This is purely because the colour is not there to distract you. In contrast, the lack of colour is to make you focus on the subject. Therefore, black and white photos make us develop a certain level of connection with the subject, as we tend to search for something.

Black and white portrait photography highlight beauty.

This can be seen with famous black and white portraits, like Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe. It’s not only because back then, they didn’t use colour in their photographs. Black and white portraits really do highlight beauty.

Today, if you look at the look book of any supermodel, you’ll notice that they’ll have several beauty shots, most being black and white portraits. With this type of photography giving you a vast amount of tones and shades to play with, skin blemishes and imperfections disappear.

Black and white portrait photography also highlights inner beauty, which we think is even more important. It is said that black and white photography reveals a whole different story in the pictures and certainly gives a new meaning to the message.

We perceive everything in colour

It is true. Being human, we react to the colours we see around us. It is widely known fact, that different colours have the ability to change and affect the way we think. For example, the colour red is said to make us more energetic, aggressive. The colour purple should calm us down.  It is true, we perceive everything in colour and it affects us very deeply.

We usually opt for colour photography, when we use nature or the seasons to emphasize our story. For example, imagine your child eating this autumn’s first apple. Obviously, to emphasise the change in seasons and passage of time, we will choose to highlight that gorgeous red colour. Choosing to focus on that deep red colour will intrigue the viewer and will ultimately make the photograph interesting.

children portrait black and white

We also use colour in interesting travel destinations to show exotic views or street food. However, black and white photography can sometimes be even more impactful than the brightness and depth of colourful photography.

At times, if you have too much colour in a photograph, it can confuse the viewer. The photographer’s intentions are to send a message across to the viewer might be completely ignored, as the viewer might get distracted by too much colour. Therefore, it’s always a good trick to convert your photograph to black and white if you’ve got something that created a distraction in the photograph and spoils the message you want to send across. You know, that’s what we love about black and white portrait photography. You can transfer the original colour to black and white if you wish.

Usually, when people think of black and white portrait photography, they only think of two colours.

The obvious ones here being black and white. However, there are so many more colours, like light grey, charcoal, bright white, dark black. It truly creates depth and sometimes extenuates various lines and shapes of the subject in the photograph. This certainly help us get our creative side of the brain working. Don’t ignore the importance of tonal values in your photographs.

Also, black and white photography can beautifully complement the deepest shadows in the picture. It draws your eyes to the darkest object. Hence, you can truly see how black and white photography has the ability to shift the audience’s attention and bring it to focus rather quickly. What the photographer usually does here, is create backlit subject. For example, a man in a dark rain coat walking in a rainy park. If you look at the photograph and the man happens to be the darkest subject in it, you will look straight to him.

Perception of time

What we love most about black and white photography is its ability to shape our perception of time. Think of the last black and white photo that you have recently seen somewhere. I bet you anything you can’t put an exact date on when it was actually taken! That’s because specific colours can make the viewer assume a certain era. If you remove the colour, the image will appear timeless. There is really something about having a monochrome image. It makes us stop and breath.

We also use it in family portrait photography to create an image with frozen time. We want to preserve the moment forever, at least at first glance.

Black and white photography inspires a lot of things. Most of all, it distances the subject of the composition from reality. When you look and a black and white images, sometimes you feel like it’s more of an abstract image rather than real. This enhances the story telling feature. While we are used to seeing everything in colour, seeing something in black and white for the first time might create an entirely new thought process. You take a moment to analyse the message conveyed in the black and white photo, and look the hidden story inside the image.

That’s why we love black and white portrait photography. It adds so much depth to the composition and subject matter overall, that you might even become emotional.

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