Black and white photography is often associated with raw emotions or feelings. Hence, street photographers process their images that way. It makes the viewer focus on the subject or composition without being distracted by colors.
However, monochrome photography is not exclusive to street photos or portraits. It can be used in different genres including architecture or landscape.
Now if you haven’t tried practicing it yet, here are five reasons why you should.
Focus on composition
Shooting black and white photos lets you focus on your composition and the angle of your shot. It removes the colors that you are used to seeing allowing you to take on a different perspective.
Try shooting a cityscape at night where the lights are out and pretty. Then try to shoot at the same place but in black in white.
Once you are in that moment, your eyes will focus on the lines, the shadows, the textures, and many more. It helps in creating a unique composition that is otherwise covered by fancy colors.
You can even apply this in landscape photography. Just setup your tripod, and focus on your composition. No need to think if your shot has too much green or too little sky. All you have to do is focus on composing your shot and mix the light.
Be more creative
Shooting in monochrome removes the colors. With that, it allows you to take a different creative approach to your photographs. It gives you the chance to exercise your creative juices on how you can convey your image.
Taking a black and white photo makes you think of ways to separate different elements in your photograph.
It is easy to differentiate an apple from an orange due to its color. But if you shoot these fruits in monochrome, you will be tested to show their color through highlights and shadows alone.
In a street setting, you may even look for the perfect match of highlights and shadows. Put up a tripod and wait for the perfect moment. Creativity is your limit this time.
See the world differently
Photography started in black and white. In this modern age, the old way of taking a photograph is slowly being forgotten. But for some, taking a black and white photo is the purest form of photography.
In essence, photography is playing with light and not color. With practice, you will then see how light affects every scene.
Convey emotion and mood
Black and white photography helps convey mood, emotions, and feelings. As mentioned earlier, it is often associated with street photography, religious photos, or even cultural shots.
There is a psychological effect on why different blacks, contrasts, and tones appeal to people.
For an instance, viewing a black and white image in an art gallery will surely make you stop and observe. The main reason is it makes the viewer curious about the elements presented in the image.
Monochrome photography adds to the “timelessness” of an image. This is one of the reasons why people shoot in black and white.
A monochrome image does not look like it was taken during modern times. It figuratively transports the viewer back in time wherein color photography does not exist.
Besides that, a black and white photo makes it harder for the viewer to determine when it was taken.
Black and white activity to train your eye
Modern cameras have the ability to shoot in JPEG and RAW at the same time. If your camera has one, set the JPEG color profile to monochrome. This allows you to practice black and white photography on the spot while saving a RAW color image.
Why is this helpful?
There are two types of monochrome shooters out there. The first one takes a black and white image straight out of the camera. The second one shoots in color and transforms it in post-processing.
However, with this activity, you can practice both techniques. You will get a monochrome image straight out of the camera. Then you can transform and play with the tones, shadows, and highlights when editing.
With all things considered, black and white photography is a great way to train your photographic eye. It makes you see the world in a different way.
Images used courtesy of Rai Silva, Abdo Tahoon, Duong Nhan, Mitchell Luo/Pexels