Black & White Portraits Have Impact

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

BW.portrait Black and white is a wonderful medium for portraits because a lack of color simplifies the image, placing the focus on the real subject of the photograph—the person. Sometimes the nature of a subject demands the image be photographed in black and white. Arnold Newman’s famous portrait of composer Igor Stravinsky could never have been made in color with the same impact that is has as a monochrome image.

There are also trendy aspects associated with creating images in black and white. MTV, motion pictures and fashion magazines periodically “rediscover” black and white as a way to reproduce photographs that are different from what’s currently being shown. Many professional photographers tell me they’re seeing a higher than normal demand for black and white portraits and individual and family portrait purchases are driven by these same trends.

In the top image, a model/actress portraying ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown” was photographed in color even though the image itself is mostly monochromatic, except for touches of red and her skin tones. Capturing in color give you the option of changing your mind and converting it to color, using software such as Silver Efex Pro.

BW1 The second image appeared—in color—as the cover “Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography” but I always saw it as a black and white photograph. When working with such a simply composed image, monochrome cover (1) seems a perfect touch, even though there is little color in the original. And that, my friends, is why “shoot in color then decide later” if monochrome is a strong option for portraiture.


Joe is author of “Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography,” which is available from your friendly neighborhood camera store or Amazon.