I have always enjoyed photographing portraits, mostly of my own children. And when creating portraits, I have always been really drawn to black and white. Black and white portraits have a timeless, artistic and classic feel to them. They are something I have been passionate about since I first picked up a camera. I’d like to share with you my tips for creating portraits that will work well in black and white.
It helps to shoot with black and white in mind when taking a photo as there are things you can do to ensure you have a strong image which will convert well. My style is more moody and low key so that is how I approach my black and white images. The most important thing that will make an image convert well to black and white is the use of light and shadow.
When an image lacks contrast between the light and the shadows, the image will be flat and lack dimension. This can apply to colour images too but is particularly important when converting to black and white as without the contrast, the image just ends up feeling a bit flat and grey. What you are aiming for is for your image to contain both true whites and true blacks which will give it the dimension that is needed to create a strong black and white.
Placing your subject in directional light and exposing them correctly will then create a beautiful fall off of light. Indoors this can be achieved by having your subject close to a window. Exposing for them will then help to throw the rest of the room into shadow which not only creates lovely dimension when converting to black and white, but will also hide any distractions in the background that you might not want to include and draw the viewers eye straight to your subject.
Outside, it helps to look for pockets of light for example, look for areas of light created by light coming through trees or foliage or through the archway of a building. Placing your subject in the area of stronger light will then create beautiful shadows and contrast.
Adding texture can also enhance black and white images. When colour is removed from an image the eye is drawn to the texture. Think of things like your subject’s clothing such as chunky knits like scarves, hats, jumpers or blankets or your child’s favorite fluffy teddy bear. Outdoors, things like foliage, leaves or brickwork can add texture and interest to your black and white image.
Black and white can also help to draw attention to details. Try taking close up shots of your subject to focus on details such as their hair, eye lashes, little fingers or toes, beautiful freckles or details such as raindrops on the window. Using black and white for these images will draw the viewer’s eye to the texture and lines in these beautiful details.
I love the emotion that black and white can bring to an image. The absence of colour really draws your eye to the facial expressions of the people in the image. Black and white can especially enhance quiet, thoughtful moments as well as those big joyful smiles. That timeless, moment in time feeling will shine through.
I hope this post helps and inspires you to go and create stunning black and white portraits of your own.
What stunning portraits Louise! Thanks for sharing your tips.