Black and White Portraits - the power of light

When you strip the color out of images, you are left with light and darkness. For so very long, photographers could only use black and white imagery to show how they viewed the world. And, as we all know, black and white portraits can be incredibly powerful. What powerful photos come to your mind? I bet that most of them are black and white. Why? One reason, there are no colors to distract you from the main subject.

 There are no distractions from his blue shirt or the green grass across the street. This is a black and white photo about the bond between brothers.

There are no distractions from his blue shirt or the green grass across the street. This is a black and white photo about the bond between brothers.

Personality Shines Through

I love using black and white images to really show off someone's personality, as seen below with my youngest son.

 A black and white environmental portrait of my boy shows the emotion on his face with the cloudy pillow behind him.

Lesson the Distraction of Color

When at a park, sometimes I try to capture the energy of all the colors: trees, outfits, toys, etc. Other times, like below, I want to show a sense of motion with my portraits. Stripping out the color of these photos shows the texture of the leaves and the motion of active kids.

 Black and white photos of children on a swing at a park in La Verne, CA

Here's another example of eliminating distractions from other colors. I love the contrast of my girl's soft, smooth skin with the rough texture of the brick wall behind her. 

 An urban black and white portrait of a girl next to a brick wall by Erica Faith Photography.

Faceless Portraits?

I don't do this often enough, but I do love faceless portraits to convey a specific mood. Like at a party, for instance.

 Black and white faceless portrait of women at a party.

Black and white photos are more than clicking a button on the computer take away color. If you make a photo with the intention of it being black and white (like the old film masters had to do), you pay attention to light, shadows, textures, etc. You then heighten that with special post-production editing. The result will hopefully tell the story that the photographer originally intended. 

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