Shooting in Black and White "Monochrome Experience"

December 18, 2020  •  1 Comment

Max Stansell Photography Hey Everyone! I hope today finds you healthy and safe. This week I want to talk about black and white photography and why I like it. Way back when, when photography was shot on film, black and white photography was much more prominent than it is now.  At the beginning of photography, it was all black and white because there wasn't any color film available. But even after color film was invented, black and white was still the norm. In what I call the hay days of photography, from the 1920s to the 1960s, just about everything was on black-and-white film. I love looking at all of those old photos from my family and even in the National Archives from all of the famous people you think about when studying the art of photography, all shot in black and white. Majestic landscapes, news, sports, and portraits were all shot in black and white. Maybe I'm just nostalgic from the days gone past. But to me, things shot in black and white have that "timeless" feeling that I don't get with color photographs. There are lots of blogs and all kinds of tutorials that explain all of the techniques of shooting in black and white, but I'm more concerned about how a photograph makes you feel. I imagine that younger photographers who grew up with Goldsboro Fire HouseGoldsboro Fire House all-color all the time don't feel the same way that older photographers do about black and white. Don't get me wrong, there are some younger photographers that dabble in black and white. But most of the time it's color, vibrant color, that they go to. So when do I like to shoot black and white?

Max Stansell Photography Portraits - I love black-and-white portraits. To me, they seem to be sharper, show more detail in the face, and show more expression than color portraits. Think of all the black-and-white portraits of old movie stars or politicians that were taken in decades past. You see those photographs, and they just pop off the page. You get to the soul of the photograph without cluttering up the photo with all of that color.  I have a wall in my house where I have photos of my family members, but I made them all in black and white because I think they just look better. An old saying about portraits that I really like  is "If you take a portrait of someone in color, you're taking a photo of their clothes; when you take a portrait in black and white, you take a photo of their soul."

Landscapes - Big majestic landscapes are great in black and white! Ansel Adams, one of the most--if not the most--famous landscape photographers, shot in black and white. Even though in his later years color was available and he dabbled in it, he preferred black and white. I think that in some landscape photographs color just muddles up the photograph, makes it too busy. But if you change it to black and white, sometimes it just jumps off the page. Try to change some of your favorite landscapes from color to black and white. All of them won't work well, but some of them will be a lot better than the originals that you thought were great.

The MetroThe MetroCommuters waiting for the Metro in Washington DC. Street Photography -  Nothing says black-and-white photography like street photography. Capturing scenes and cityscapes in black and white is the norm. This style of photography is where I think black and white really shines and is probably where it is the most used in today's photography. I think, again, it's the timeless look of the photograph that it shows.

As you can see, I'm a big fan of black-and-white photography. Please experiment with black-and-white photography, and I'm sure you'll become a lover of the "monochrome experience" like I am. Until next week, please stay safe and healthy and get out and shoot.


I love this! 2021 is the year I step it up with photography. I truly love black and white; but also love an image that has a bright colored spot; maybe a red dress, or a yellow hat, or green shoes to truly make a black and white photo pop! Thoughts?
No comments posted.