I absolutely adore black and white images! There’s something so personal, so emotional, so raw about them. Black and white imagery tells us a story, a story about us, it pauses life in one shot, it keeps you wanting more.
That being said, it takes a few things to make sure you nail that kind of emotion out of a black and white image. As a photographer who uses black and white all the time, there are a few things that I’m looking for when I shoot for black and white. First, I’m looking for my light. I ask myself “will the light add richness to my conversion or will it take richness away?” Light brings out so much texture and tonality to an image, so this is a must when converting.
Another thing I ask myself is, “is the mood right?” It’s perfectly okay to be honest with yourself and know sometimes the mood does not call for a black and white conversion. I’m a very moody shooter so it makes sense that a lot of my images are converted to black and white. But some of you do not shoot this way. Sometimes it’s not meant to be a black and white image and that’s okay too. But if you are shooting to convert, look for a certain moment that has emotion! It doesn’t have to be sad, it can be a happy moment, it can be mad, anything, but a memorable black and white has a lot of emotion in it.
Composition! This is one of the most amazing things that can make a moment seem more emotional and memorable! Sounds crazy but it’s true! Just a little moving around and finding different angles can really add to the mood of a photo. It can add to the feeling of wanting more, more answers….just…more. I have to say that if you haven’t already, take Composition and Creativity with Sarah Wilkerson! She is such an amazing teacher! I have never seen the world of composition more clearly! The world has never been the same since.
Lastly and importantly, your settings. Your settings play such an important role in making a black and white conversion memorable. Knowing when to under or over expose when needed is a must. Also, when knowing when to shoot wide open, when to add just the right amount of focus on those itty bitty baby toes, or when to close down when you really want that texture of the mud splashed all over your little one’s face, these are elements that can add to making a memorable black and white conversion. While learning, I constantly played with my settings so I knew what would draw me in. To find me in every photo. Black and white photography is such an emotional and amazing way to capture life as it is. Black and white photography speaks to me. I hope it speaks to you one day as well.