When Black And White Photography Works Better

Black and white images can impose a nostalgic caste on your shots, but they can also prove useful in more accurately capturing an event. Photographer David Hurn, who popped up on this site recently extolling the virtues of photography as a cure for shyness, argued at the same Focus on Imaging event that black and white is better for documentary-style shots:

Picture by cwalker71

Colour is a dominant thing when you look at something. Your eye instantly goes there. If I shoot in black and white, you see the content. If I shot in colour, I'd move around for balance and the picture would be a lot like the colour in the room instead. Colour tends to be better when you stage direct it. I don't want to have any effect on what I'm shooting.

If you do want to try black and white photography, consider shooting on overcast days.


    Personally speaking, black and white photography is inappropriately used now days with people using it just to appear 'arty'.

    Some great examples here of when it is used right http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/06/09/beautiful-black-and-white-photography/

    @Alex If you don't like black and white photography, that's your business.

    However, I don't think it's fair to say that it is inappropriately used these days just to look arty.

    The whole point of this post is that removing colour can help highlight the content of the photo - 'artsy' or not.

      Jason - Each to their own. If a photo is poorly composed, dropping a B&W tone or HDR isn't going to make it any better.

    I think the article makes a valid point, I however believe that the art of taking a black and white photo goes beyond simply changing a setting on the camera, which is what a lot of ma and pa shooters will do. Emotion, telling a story, drama, character are all some of the things a good b&w photo has.

    "impose a nostalgic caste" - what does this MEAN???

    I agree. I basically see black and white photography as a way to imply a sense of memory.

    I use Black and white photogrdaphy to take advantage of colour filters. I am surprised this was not mentioned before.

    It becomes very easy to extract a handsome young man from a pimple riddled teanager by using a red filter.


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