Black and White Photography

April 20, 2016

Black and white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, and hyphenated black-and-white when used as an adjective, is any of several monochrome forms in visual arts.

In the early days of photography, photographers had no choice but to shoot in black and white, as it was the only available medium. Then, in 1936, the invention of kodachrome gave colour photography to the world. But black and white photography didn't die off, instead it flourished. Modern black and white photography at it's best is art, and many photographers regard it as the purest form of photography.

Since the late 1960s, few mainstream films have been shot in black-and-white. The reasons are frequently commercial, as it is difficult to sell a film for television broadcasting if the film is not in color.

In black-and-white still photography, many photographers choose to shoot in solely black and white since the stark contrasts enhance the subject matter.

Some formal photo portraits still use black-and-white. Many visual-art photographers use black-and-white in their work.

So why does black and white photography command such acclaim? One reason is that color is a distraction. It takes attention away from the visual building blocks of a great photo; texture, tonal contrast, shape, form and lighting. A photographer shooting in black and white has to learn how to use all these elements to create a memorable image.



All photographers need inspiration. Here are some of my favorite black and white photographers, past and present:

Perhaps the world's best known black and white landscape photographer, Ansel Adams is remembered for his beautiful photos of the American landscape. Adams was a master of black and white printing processes and pioneered the zone system, a method of analysing exposure to produce high quality black and white prints.

A Peruvian photographer based in Cusco who photographed the beautiful Andean landscapes and the indigenous people of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

An English erotic photographer who sadly comitted suicide a few years ago, Bob Carlos Clarke was recognised as a brilliant commercial and erotic photographer.

Karsh was the pre-eminent portrait photographer of his time. His subjects include Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemmingway.

Fine art photographer Nick Brandt is famous for his black and white photos of African animals and landscapes.

(Mixture of color and black and white images).

A freelance photographer from Singapore, Zhang's black and white portraits and fashion photos are simply beautiful. (