Black and White or Colour…

25 February 2021

…….It’s all just a matter of preference.

It’s the age old question isn’t it, black and white or colour? Well it strictly isn’t black and white, there are varying levels of each of those but there are also lots of grey’s in there too, which is why it is more accurately called Monochrome. For me two things can happen depending on what I am shooting and where. I either set out with the express intention of shooting mono images or, and this more likely, it happens in the editing process after the shoot.

See, when I am sat in the office with a mug of green tea and some music on in the background going through the shots and deciding what I, or the clients, want from them, that’s usually when I make that decision, but very occasionally I will set out for a shoot knowing that it is going to end up as a mono image. There are lots of factors which bounce around my mind when making shooting and editing decisions, let me explain………

I love Gig Photography but it does bring it’s challenges, especially where light levels and colours are concerned. I am not a big lover of green and red stage light flashes across performers faces and so mono can be a great option for gig shots, it removes the colour casts and leaves the details in the image. I find it generally conveys more emotion than a colour image, but that’s just my view. Mono edits are also great for isolating one performer on the stage. It’s a well known fact that I rarely use Photoshop, I can do most of what I need in Lightroom. Take a look at the two images above of the brilliant Twister who I have had the pleasure of working with many times now. For this particular edit you can see I have been able to isolate lead singer/guitarist Stevie and throw in some negative space to the right of the image to remove the distractions and clutter, leaving an image I am really pleased with which jumps off the screen and shows Stevie in full flight.

Portrait Photography I think is just a beautiful way to tell stories about a person or people. This is David and I took his portrait as part of a project for the brilliant Mike McGrother a couple of years ago. David was a guy who was at that point nearing the end of his life and was quite ill. But he was also a very remarkable man (it would take a few pages just to list his lifetime achievements!) and also a very proud and dignified man. Despite being quite ill, when I turned up at his home to take his portrait he was fully ‘made up’ and dressed in an immaculate suit. I just think this particular shot and monochrome portraits in general tend to show so much more emotional depth and detail than full colour versions, but that’s my own opinion, and if you want shooting in full glorious technicolour then I am more than happy to oblige.

“Its one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, its another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”

-Paul Caponigro

Now, choosing between mono and colour when it comes to landscapes, well that’s a whole different ballgame altogether in my book! In the main full vibrant (but not oversaturated) colour wins every time for me. Well, nature has given us a million stunning colours and views, such as the image above left, taken across the Clyde Estuary in Scotland, so why would I want to hide them behind a monochrome edit. It would be easy to say that it has to be colour edits as standard for all landscape images wouldn’t it? I mean I have seen a thousand sunsets, every one different, and so why would you want to put that into black and white. As a rule I wouldn’t, I mean I have on occasion but really just to show the difference and contrast, but there are areas of landscape photography which I think do lend themselves to mono edits, things like structures, bridges, castles and street style photography are completely suited to mono. Using a striking mono edit on Steetley Pier on a grey day can really bring out the detail, same for Infinity Bridge, Newport Bridge, 100 year old jetties and High Street architecture can really make it pop and sing in a photograph I think.

So yes, as I said at the top, it’s all a matter of preference, how you see things and how you want to show the world what it is that you see….

Well that’s all for now folks, thanks if you made it this far, while you are inside my site please feel free to go and check out all the portfolios, there is something for everyone I promise. As always, if you like what you see tell your friends.

efaS yatS, yppaH yatS!


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