Clothing, busy background and colour objects can take away from the moment of the photo. The black and white images allow your brain to focus only on the main element of the photo and the emotional message is more easily conveyed as our brains become more perceptive and focused on the images core itself. Taking away distractions gives you a focused image that is often more powerful and spectacular.
You’ll See Light Differently
With outdoor lighting in particular, you will miss out on that golden afternoon glow but you will also gain a more focused shot. The shot will lead your eye to focus more on the direction, quantity and quality of light in the black and white shot. As a photographer learning how to read and play with different elements of light in this way is a fantastic skill that helps play up emotion in the shot. The relationship between the starkness of the light and dark can be more interesting to shoot than the regular colour shots. Light and the relationship with my subject (and the shadows that form) as well as other complementary elements of the individual become the focus, rather than the colour of elements in the frame.
Looking at someone’s face, or into their eyes, without the distraction of color can provide a stronger emotional connection to the subject. It’s not necessarily always the case, but if like me, you often feel more connected to a person in a black and white image over a color image, this could be the reason why. With color gone, it’s purely about the connection you have with the subject. The color of the trees and shrubs, buildings and lamp posts are all irrelevant as the focus becomes the emotional bond between the embracing family.
Its A Classic
One of the most common reasons people want to shoot in black and white today is because it lends a certain timeless quality to the images. This is because we still think of black and white as being a throwback to the photographic past. Of course, it is in terms of black and white was much more prevalent before color, but this is still a great reason to shoot black and white. Black and white never seems to fade from being fashion forward and its seen as an elegant and sophisticated choice by many of my clients.
It Amplifies Your Use of Space
Negative space – the areas of the frame that have nothing in them, are easier to showcase and highlight when shooting black and white. This relates back to minimizing distractions from not shooting in color. You tend to focus on light and dark areas of the frame – and their inter-relationship. Playing with negative space is also useful in separating your subject nicely from the background and give added depth to the image. Black and white can help to highlight a shape and form or pattern in the image that might be overlooked in a full colour image.
To Highlight Beauty and Skin Tones
It doesn’t matter what race, color or background you happen to be – black and white photography provides wonderful tonal range between the deepest blacks and the whitest whites. Garishly colorful makeup is no longer distracting. Pigments, discoloration and distracting elements of the skin can become less obvious. I particularly love this when I am emphasizing a newborns skin and wrinkles. Its that light bath or glow if you like that separates the baby from everything else and proves to shape our attention directly at the newborn.