Colorful imagery, as beautiful as it may be, can at times be very distracting to the eye. There is something extremely personal when it comes to shooting your portrait photography in black and white. For instance, if you were to compare two versions of the same image, the original and its black and white counterpart, you would most likely be drawn closer to the ‘feeling’ of the second one.
This is because there is a certain soulfulness that is expressed in black and white. The lack of color emphasizes light and expression, allowing you to capture your subject in their purest form.
When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. When you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls.
Take Advantage of Your Light Sources
Photographs tell a story, and the form of lighting you decide to work with should ultimately depend on which type of story you are trying to convey.
Get creative. If you’re using a professional lighting system, try setting it up in ways you haven’t done before.
Low-key lighting is defined, high-contrast lighting using a range of bright to dark shadows. The light is intentionally focused to draw the attention of the audience to a specific subject. This type of lighting creates a sense of isolation and vulnerability by separating the subjects from their surroundings. (see example image above)
If you’re on a budget but still looking for a quality ‘at home’ lighting set-up, I reccomend checking out this video from photographer Peter Mckinnon “Cheap DIY Lighting Setup On A Budget”.
Keep in mind that studio lights are not the only way to achieve a unique and stunning portrait. Take advantage of the natural light around you. Windows, for example, make a great lighting source. Utilize the backlight from the window by placing the subject right in front of the source of light. The light will bleed into the silhouette, creating a soft elegant look.
Try experimenting with shadows, you have the potential to transform such simple elements into unique pieces of art. A benefit to working with shadows is their accessibility. You don’t need to go far to find light that will enhance your subjects features and give an artistic feel to your portrait photography.
Capture Emotion and Mood
Keep in mind that your portraits don’t always have to be “pretty glamour shots”. As a photographer, you also have the ability to capture raw, beautiful emotions that people can relate to. Textures and expressions will all tell a story of their own in black and white – all you have to do is capture it.
Here are some tips on ‘How to Capture Authentic Emotion in Photography’.
Print Your Portrait Photography
At ArtisanHD, we care about the quality of your images transferring to print.
Get started by uploading your portraits here.