Black and white photography isn’t just about the classic desaturated look. There are so many other factors that underlie the process of shooting in black and white. In this process, the way you look at lighting, your composition, your mindset, everything, has to be different than when you shoot in color. In this video, London based street photographer Alan Schaller who specializes in shooting black and white shares seven tips to take better black and white street photos:
What you have to realize is that a black and photograph isn’t just the result of desaturation. There’s an entire process to it. You therefore need to photograph black and white images with a purpose, not just desaturate the images in post. This means keeping in mind the textures, tonality, contrast, and lighting when composing your shots.
“A lady in a red coat may look great in color; in black and white, it’s just one shade of grey.”
The absence of color in a black and white image makes the image less “distracting”. With no colors to make an individual element stand out, the viewers have a major focus on the composition, the visual story, and the tonality among other factors. This makes it quite a challenging genre for even the most experienced photographers. But, with continued practice, and developing a good eye, you can create some stunning images in black and white.
Of course, high contrast lighting will result in better black and white photos. Not everyday will be on your side, but whenever the conditions are against you, don’t let that dictate what you photograph. Accept what’s there, and try to incorporate factors like textures, patterns, or reflections to add interest to your images.
Are you a fan of black and white photography?
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*Note: We may not be able to do street photography right now, but it might be a great time to study and strategize for the future. NY street photographer James Maher is currently on lockdown and is unable to do a lot of his work, but he is offering his popular eBook, Essentials of Street Photography, at 25% off today for those who also want to study at home.
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