No matter that photography has been around for some 200 years we are still in love with black and white photographs.
Much of the work I studied when I first started taking photography more seriously was in black and white -
Walker Evans, Andre Kertesz, Sebastien Salgado, Dorethea Lange and, of course, Ansel Adams to name a few of my favourites.
But we live in a gloriously colourful age so 'seeing' in black and white is perhaps not quite so easy. Here are a few things to try out to help you see the opportunity for a great black and white photo.
First: Shoot in black and white mode on your camera or smartphone
This is usually found in the menus Picture Style, Colour Mode, Film Simulation or Creative controls. It does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer! Shooting in the mode will help you see what images work best when the colour has been removed.
You may find that the results are a little flat looking in terms of the resulting black and white. Generally it is better to shoot in colour and then convert it afterwards in editing programmes.
Second: Take the photo in both colour and black and white and compare them
What do you like better about the black and white version if anything?
Notice what looks great in black and white. You should see that strong shapes, lines and shadows look really good in black and white. And remember that black and white is actually black, white and all the shades of grey in-between. Notice what colours are more successful in black and white without any editing.
Third: Google black and white photography and/or any of the photographers mentioned above
Pick a few photos that you personally like and identify what it is that draws you to them.
By now you should have a feel for successful black and white images. Go out and try taking some more paying attention to the elements that really work in monotone. In a future blog I will cover some editing tips for converting your colour images to black and white.