Black & White Wedding Photography

The decision to make a photo black & white depends on all sorts of factors. I’ve frequently been asked, whilst running workshops, how I decide between colour and black and white for an image. There’s no simple answer, because most of the time I ‘just know’, but there are few key factors that make an image more successful in black and white.

For years the still image was black and white and there is still a raw power and emotion about the medium. By removing colour our eyes are drawn stronger to light, form/composition and the moment. Those three are my criteria for a good black and white. Some shots I’ll know instantly as I take them will be black and white, the combination of light and contrast demands it…

Other images will work well in both. For portraits there is a third dynamic, and that is the subject. Strong features and dark colour make for a good black and white, so subjects with dark hair and/or strong features will convert into black and white more powerfully…

There is only one ‘rule’ that I would offer, and even that is not always to be adhered to. Very often a black white image will not work if the subject is back-lit. When looking at a black and white our eyes are naturally drawn to the highlights of the image, if the background is an entire highlight then you can draw the viewer’s eye away from the subject.

The final image is one from last week’s wedding, and one of my absolute favourite black and white portraits…

(Shot on a Nikon D700 with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar lens @ f.2.)

If you’re interested in seeing more of my black and white wedding work, you can visit the black and white gallery on charlwoodphotography.com.

Get in contact if you’re interested in a group or 1-1 photography workshop. I’m based near London, but happy to travel.

2 comments to Black & White Wedding Photography

Leave a Reply