Black and White Portrait Photography

Originally the enclave of the professional art photographer the medium of B&W is alluring. Photography in its purest sense is photographing a passage of time from 1/10 to 1/1000 of a second. It aims to capture a moment, some say a “defining” moment that creates a photograph that does not just record an event but captures something extra special. B&W suits this defined moment for it eliminates the “distraction” of colour and enables one to concentrate on photographing an image that can be moody, jubilant, frozen or blurred. It gives two dimensional paper depth and texture and places the viewer in a situation where one looks at a photograph from an emotive rather than factual context.The use of flash is best avoided for one uses natural light to capture a moment.

B&W tends to be the most expressive of all photography. It is brilliant for portraits, landscapes, capturing movement and expression. Try your camera at a sporting event…shoot the crowd, the expressions of players, the concentration. Visit a market, Rundle Mall, The Adelaide Hills, a village such as Strathalbyn or Victoria Square catch people being people…look for “odd” views, events and people interacting. Do not be afraid to bend horizons , catch things out of focus, purposefully blur.

The beauty of digital is that you can scrap images you are not happy with. Those of us brought up in the age of film wasted many a night on developing images that were useless. Do not be afraid of shooting 100 to 200 images just to get that one brilliant shot. However do not go to your shoot without a plan of what you wish to capture and photograph. You will wind up disappointed if you hammer of innumerable frames just hoping for something to happen.
When you do review your images look at what worked and what didn’t’. Pay attention to your mistakes and look at each mistake made as a valuable learning experience not just a frame to discard.

B&W photography is I believe the pinnacle of photographic enlightenment. It takes a long time to master “light” but the progress you make in this style of photography will be an immeasurable help in all other photographic pursuits.