I remember learning about black & white film and shooting with my film camera in college for my photography classes. I was obsessed with it – so much, that I was actually the darkroom supervisor for all 4 years while in college (and let’s just say I always smelled like darkroom chemicals…). I loved how removing the colors from a photo placed so much emphasis on the emotion, light, and overall composition of the final product.
Fast forward to me now shooting weddings (and on digital), and I love creating black and white wedding photos for my couples!
Reasons to Take Black and White Wedding Photos
Black and white wedding photos can bring an entirely different perspective to the scenario you’re documenting. While color definitely has its place throughout various moments of the wedding day, shooting with the intention to convert into B&W should also be taken into account. Here are 5 reasons you should include black and white wedding photos in your wedding galleries!
1. Showcases Emotional Moments
This is my favorite reason to make an image black and white. Whether it’s a warm embrace with your dad or happy tears as you see each other for the first time, converting these images to black and white really elevates the emotion within them.
Don’t get me wrong – I love color images! But, when it comes to showcasing emotion, color can often times distract the viewer from fully seeing all of the emotion within a shot. Stripping away the color and only focusing on the raw, natural moment in the image can make these B&W images really powerful!
2. Helps Create Timeless Images
While some trends and things of the past go out of date, black and white photos instantly have a timeless quality to them. Rather than black and white images having a negative connotation attached to them, they’re associated with having an elegant and classic feel.
Removes Non-Timeless Features
As mentioned earlier, colors can be distracting. Not only that, but they can be indicative of a certain year or time period. As an example, Living Coral is the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year. If a bride decides to have her bridesmaids wear dresses in this color, it can instantly date the photos.
While a good portion of the photos taken will be in color, make an effort to take intentional black and white photos throughout the day as well. By creating a beautiful black and white image of the bride with her bridesmaids, it doesn’t matter what color the dresses were.
3. Eliminates Distracting Elements
Colors are not the only distracting element that can appear in wedding photos. Things such as busy backgrounds, harsh textures, or cluttered spaces can be extremely distracting if they make it into the frame of your shot.
While I always recommend trying to avoid taking photos where there are distractions, sometimes the moment just happens and you don’t have much control over the exact location. When that’s the case, try editing the photo in black and white to help remove the visualness of the clutter. This should help to bring the focus back on your subjects.
4. Useful for Difficult Lighting Scenarios
Editing your photos to black and white can be a lifesaver for tough lighting situations. Here are a couple scenarios where a little black and white magic can make a mediocre photo look 10x better:
With mixed lighting, color temperatures are all over the map. You might have natural light coming from the window and tungsten light coming from the lamps in the room. While one option is to eliminate all light sources except for one main one, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to do this. Plus, the additional lighting might add to the overall mood of the scene.
Instead of trying to properly color correct this later in Lightroom, convert it to black and white. This instantly removes any distractions from mixed lights and places the focus on the emotion in the image.
Shooting in a dark church is a classic example of a lighting scenario where you typically can’t add any OCF to the scene. Along with boosting your ISO up, change a bulk of these images to black and white. In bumping up your ISO, grain is more likely to show in the photo, so when you convert these to B&W, the photo has a timeless quality that’s reminiscent of film days.
5. Makes Photos More Dramatic
Black and white pictures emphasize the contrast between your highlights and shadows, giving the image a dramatic look and feel. Whether it’s placing the bride near a window for a dramatic silhouette, or finding unique shadows on walls to position the couple near for an artistic shot, these are black and white moments that really excel.
Black and white wedding photos can be absolutely breathtaking, even if they weren’t intentionally intended to be black and white. Since we’re no longer in the darkroom days, it’s easy to play with photos in Lightroom and quickly change them from color to B&W to see which looks best!