Personal Photography Project of Jessica Nelson
black and white, low-light
What is/was your personal project and what inspired you to start it?
In January of this year I was inspired to start a daily project of my kids for the entire month. Little did I know it would morph into a 365, but that’s another topic of discussion. I started out with the only goal of shooting them each day but as the first few days went on I realized that I was having fun shooting in the low light afternoon or evenings and converting to black and white. Since BW was something I was trying to perfect and be more consistent with, I decided to add that to my project as well. And since it was Jan, I really didn’t want to go outside. So the low-light, black and white, all indoors project was born.
Are there any challenges or ruts you faced during your project and how did you overcome them and keep a creative eye?
Working with low light or dramatic light was a challenge for me. It was something I was quite weak at and I found myself scooting the kids up to the windows often, playing with the natural sunlight streaming in or creating my own dramatic effects in the studio. When I found little natural light, using overhead lighting or flashlights helped me overcome those days so I could shoot something for the day. I also found that using my studio was really good to create dramatic lights. I would remove the reflector and turn the softbox down and away from the kids to create some nice shadows. Sometimes I even forget which I shot in the studio and which I did in front of a window. I also had to pay close attention to my backgrounds when I was purposefully shooting for black and white. I tried hard to minimize any lighter distractions and even would clone out clutter to make the background as even as possible.
What have you learned through your process with your personal project?
I learned that I am loving black and white shooting and processing. Before this project I was not great and getting dramatic black and white images. I learned how to look for dramatic light situations and shoot specifically for black and white. And while not all of the photos are dark and moody, I still tried to use what natural light I did have to create some nice black and white contrasting.
Is there anything additional about your project that readers may find interesting?
I hope that people can find the inspiration to pick up their cameras even as the long summer days are coming to an end and the darkness is upon us. There is still so much beauty and opportunities to shoot an entire month indoors only using the littlest of light. And if you can’t find the natural light, make it with doorway light or a flashlight. The beauty of this project is you don’t have to worry about colors and you can embrace the grain since you already know the end result will be black and white. So crank up that ISO and get to shooting on those cold, gloomy winter days. 🙂