In today's world, black and white photography is often seen as a lost art. How many times do you see someone with a cell phone take a picture and create a beautiful black and white image helping you portray the mood of the moment?
I would venture to say that 98% of the time you'll never see it. However professionals who have started out in black and white with their home darkrooms (like myself) will always look for that opportunity to take the right image and provide it to their clients in black and white.
In this blog entry, I'll talk about some selected wedding pictures and portraits I recently did for Jackie & Jason. They had a great wedding, and although the rain caused us some issues with their portraits, it was nothing that a quick additional portrait shoot couldn't fix. In this beautiful bride and groom portrait at the NC State Arboretum, I felt that converting this to black and white really help show the dreaminess of the moment, with their beautiful love really showing through. Did I provide the couple the image in color? Of course I did, however it was my creative choice to work it also in black and white, giving them a timeless capture of that beautiful moment of true love in between our laughter and playfulness the three of us had during the shoot.
Sometimes a classic wedding image is great for black and white. In the image below, Jackie and her father pause for that moment just outside the Brides Room at the Meredith College just before that moment
when the doors are opened and the congregation gets to see the bride for the very first time (well, most of them anyway).
I chose to convert this to black and white simply as a stylistic decision, capturing this breathtaking moment when the bride is usually at her most nervous time, with her arm in her fathers, providing that steady strength and guidance (be it ceremoniously) for the last time before she becomes married to her new husband. This is a moment that every bride things about, and I know that I certainly think about it as a father with a beautiful daughter.
It's Just the Right Thing to Do
Sometimes, making the decision to convert an image to black and white is really as simple as looking at the image and color and deciding that "it's just the right thing to do". This portrait will have a much bigger impact in black and white than in color.
When doing my planning for the wedding, I found this beautiful library at the back of the chapel. It had west facing windows, a baby grand piano, large leather couches, just the perfect place for wedding day portraits with the family. However, since the rains came, and came, and then came again, and since our "bride and groom" portrait session would be delayed, I really wanted to get some quick portraits of Jackie while she had that "wedding day bride" aura. So after the ceremony, Jason, Jackie, and her brother in law came into the library and we did some quick portraits.
I personally prefer natural light to flash. I of course use flash regularly, but natural light provides a certain "mood" that flash doesn't. So as planned, I put Jackie next to this large window and used it to light her to get the effect in this picture. However, when doing post processing, it was evident that the softness of the light (remember, rain rain rain) and the lateness of the day, made the "mauve" wall behind her very dull. The image just didn't "pop".
However, converting this over to black and white made all the difference in the world.
The world may not always be black and white, but in this photographer's humble opinion, there's still a place for it! I hope you agree.