Black and white images have a certain appeal to me. They portray drama, emotions, and keep the focus on the subject’s expression. My photography style generally includes bright, crisp colors but sometimes images just pop in b/w or sepia tone. So how do I choose which client or personal images will be set to b/w or sepia tone?
Distractions. Often when I am shooting my toddler in all of her glory…this commonly includes printed leggings, tutus, bright-colored toys, etc., it can be very distracting. All these colors/patterns take away from the moment I am trying to capture. b/w can simply keep the focus on her.
Emotions. Even subdued backgrounds and foregrounds can take your eyes away from the focal point of the image. While I love the greenery in L&S engagement photo below, it takes away from the adorable moment they are having. The sepia tone version makes her amazing smile pop. The greenery makes for a nice textured neutral background.
Low light. If I am in a situation with low light, editing in b/w will give the portrait a smoother finish. In Rachel and Baby Cole’s photo, Rachel was soothing him in between shots…and I happened to capture this special moment of him looking up at her. Because of the angle and her shadow this image had low light and was fuzzy. Switching it to b/w saved this photo, making it a favorite of mine.
Adding drama. By the time my maternity clients and I made it to this venue, we were dealing with direct sunlight and shadows. There are pros and cons to this. Pro- I love the shadows the string lights make. Con- the brick color is somewhat over powering. The b/w image is dramatic and gives a vintage feel. ‘The Brickyard’ sign pops…which was their wedding venue…don’t you just love that? I sent the clients both images because they are both nice, but have totally different feels. Leaving it up to them which they prefer.
Documentary. This is a picture of my youngest daughter’s first hike with the family, something we enjoy. While I like the natural setting and the reflection in the river, it is rather generic. In fact, I almost discarded the picture. But with a switch to b/w and sepia combo the photo popped. Then I cropped the image to make her the focus, including enough of her dad to document this special first hike together.
I send my clients a variety of their images, mostly in color. However some images are just striking in b/w. I hope you enjoyed hearing a little about the editing process and know that a lot of thought goes into each finished image.