There's something that always seems so classic and timeless with a black and white portrait. When photographers convert a color photo to black and white, the question is often about when to make that switch. But the more interesting question is, why did you choose to shoot in black and white in the first place?
Most times the 'why' stems from an artistic choice. For example, Nathan is the associate conductor of the Nashville Symphony and he was looking for some updated branding images that were natural, sophisticated, and professional. During our session, I shot in color with the intention of making the images black and white before delivering them to Nathan. The black and white versions of his portraits created the right amount of mood!
Three things to think about when creating an image in black and white include:
- Color is no longer a distraction - Clothing, busy backgrounds, and differences in lightning temperature cars, are no longer taking the focus away from your subject. Another bonus when an image is going to be shown in black and white rather than color is that you are able to concentrate more on the key aspects of lighting and composition because there are no distracting colors pulling your attention elsewhere.
- Emotion is emphasized - The lack of color in an image often allows you to feel more connected to the subject. You're free to focus more on their eyes and what they are conveying in the photograph.
- Creating a timeless and classic look - People often choose to shoot in black and white today because it gives their images a timeless quality. Black and white photographs create a sense of nostalgia and remind us of the past.
The lighting for this branding session was super simple and consisted of a single flash modified with a large umbrella and diffusion fabric. This gave a soft, even, spread of light that I was able to adjust easily and go between brighter images, or by feathering the light away from Nathan, to something more moody.
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