People commonly eschew monochrome photography, I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the perception that it’s more of an “artsy” photography form, or that it’s difficult to do. Black and white photography can actually be simpler and give you better images, as well as making you a better photographer. Here’s why:
With black and white photography you are removing color (duh!). What I mean to say is, you are removing the distraction of color and focusing more on the form and composition. This can really help if you’re having difficulty with things like the Rule of Thirds, contrast, framing, etc. By removing color you can focus more on other elements.
Color photography can sometimes distract from your portrait subject; particularly when you are working with bright or busy backgrounds. Black and white can help put some extra emphasis on your subject, especially if you can find surroundings that contrast with their skin.
No matter how you look at it, black and white photography does set a certain tone. Without the help of color these photos tend to be more serious, reserved even. This may not always work for child portraits, but when it does you get some amazing results!
If you’ve ever been frustrated with the harsh light and shadows caused by bright sunlight, here’s your chance. Where traditional photography tends to not work with high tonal contrast (i.e. bright whites with dark shadows), black and white photography actually works better in these scenarios.
Black and white photography does tend to create more artistic images, perhaps because by choosing black and white the photographer is choosing to be an active participant in the creation process; rather than just shooting what appears in front of the camera. If you really delve into black and white photography you can discover an amazing well of creativity!
Looking for inspiration? Here’s a great Pinterest board with lots of awesome black and white photos!
Taking black and white photos is easy; you can either set your camera to black and white mode, or convert them afterwards in your chosen editing program. Shooting in RAW is recommended as it will give you more flexibility to adjust your tones and highlights later, rather than trying to get it perfect in camera. And don’t just limit yourself to child portraits in black and white – try pets, family photography, and weddings too!
If you feel like you need some help “seeing” images in black and white, check out online classes in black and white photography, taught by professional photographers. Enjoy!