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Black and White

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!” Ted Grant

My very first formal photographic training was in black and white.

Greyscale, dodging and burning were things I learned early on and that old-school technical training still comes in handy, even when I shoot in colour.

A few observations about black and white:

  • It often really helps to simplify the picture and highlight form and content

  • Sometimes, it can make a plain and boring colour picture, spectacular

  • You see differently when you actually shoot in black and white, instead of shooting everything in colour and converting in post

  • It can make a picture look either arty or journalistic, depending on how it’s used

  • It can save a noisy, badly lit low light colour picture

  • It creates a timelessness

  • Learn about mid-grey and the grey scale to help with exposures

I took this picture in London. This woman had been sitting outside this store for ages. There was a lot of activity around her and she kind of collapsed into herself highlighting the contrast between her and this modern world of i-everything.

The background of the shop was busy and shouting for attention in bright colours, as shop fronts are designed to do. When I first saw the picture I was disappointed with it, she was lost in the text and colour of the adverts, but in black and white, it works as she becomes the focus, as was intended.


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