Photograph Like the Masters
How to take better photos?
Ok folks. Recently I was listening to one of the many podcasts that I frequent and heard something very strange. One of the hosts indicated that many people convert images to black and white as a way of fix or cover-up poor quality photos.
As a lover of black & white and fine art photographer exhibiting an assortment of B&W photos at various Art Galleries and Salons I have to say this statement took me aback.
Yes, it is true, we have all taken an image shot in low-light with a bit more grain than we would like, converted it to black & white and pumped up contrast as way to reduce the amount of perceived noise; but the truth be told…
Black & White photographs are the skeleton, the structure, the heart and soul or essence of all images or even illustrations for that matter, regardless of color or lack there of. Professionals use black & white not to hide problems but as a way to emphasize composition or more easily convey a thought or story without distraction.
Contrary to this unnamed hosts premise, color, not B&W, can more easily be used to distract or cover-up poorly composed photographs. Remember, if the skeleton of a photograph is not sound, no matter what you do to the image it will never be a great one.
Personally I see black & white as the equivalent of the under painting used by the great masters as a way to lay down the structure of a painting prior to fleshing out sometimes in color & sometimes keeping with a monochromatic palette.
TIPS for taking better photographs:
Get naked! … Ummm… That’s right! Get your photograph naked… Take your absolute favorite photo and covert it into black & white. Take some time to really look at the lines, shapes and tonality throughout the image. If you still love the photograph chances are you have a winner but if you now see deficiencies in composition, lighting, shadow, and alike you have just learned something that would be next to impossible to be taught by a text book and guess what… It was FREE!
I teach this and similar concepts to students and workshop attendees, amateurs and professionals alike and have always had incredible success!
So enough reading, it’s time to get out there and shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, convert your favorites to black & white and see which really tell the story that you’re looking to tell and hold up to the scrutiny allowed for by a monochromatic palette. Then and only then, you can either add color and flesh out your skeleton or simply leave the photograph “naked”; Black & White and out there for the world to enjoy.
Your comments and questions are always welcome. Ask about my up and coming South Florida Photographic Workshops if your ready to look at photography in a different light or shadow for that matter.