There is something timeless and forever elegant about a black and white image. And there’s a reason (or a few) why famous photographers throughout time — Cartier Bresson, Ansel Adams, Sally Man — made the creative choice to shoot in black and white, even when the limitations of technology no longer required it.
In photo classes, you’ll often find instructors who stretch their students’ skills and minds by having them shoot an entire assignment in black and white. But why?
There’s a number of reasons, which we’ll cover below, and all of them relate to the style that is created in the end result. There’s the lighting, the composition, the mood — and this is why shooting boudoir images in black and white is always a good idea and will yield beautiful, breathtaking end results.
- The Style and Mood
The beauty of black and white photographs never goes out of style. It is timeless — and unlike some other forms of creative photography, black and white imagery has never faded out. Actually, there are photographers around the world who have dedicated their entire portfolios to monochrome masterpieces.
Check out the different styles of people like Brooklyn-based photographer Boogie, who shoots almost exclusively in black and white, or Robert and Shana Parkharrison known for their surreal and wild environmental portraits.
Black and white photographs, particularly in the realm of boudoir photoshoots, transfers the mood and the character of what your viewers are looking at. Perhaps there’s a hint of mystery, or intrigue, or a feeling reminiscent of days that have since passed.
Colors can often be distracting in images, taking the focus away from your subject. In boudoir photography, the subject is everything — and conveying that with the stylistic choice of black and white photos will serve to enhance that idea.
Even with your subject in the background of a prominent black and white foreground, they will still appear pronounced — and that is part of what makes black and white images so incredible to experiment with.
- The Details and Shadows
After a quick exploration of black and white photography, you’ll find the incredible ways it creates shadows and brings the viewer into the attention of details.
Shadow creates excellent highlights and accents strong features. Regardless of skin color or tone, black and white photography provides that beautiful tonal range between the deepest black colors and the lightest white colors.
Often, in black and white photography, distracting elements of the skin (like blemishes or scars) can appear softer and less obvious to the viewer.
In addition, shadows can be used to the photographer’s advantage in black and white imagery, to leave certain parts of the model in the shadows and aid in creating a dramatic end result. For example, the curves of the model’s body or the roundness of their lips or nose can be pronounced by utilizing shadows.
- The Lighting Itself
Perhaps, you’re at first thinking that black and white photography limits your ability to capture your favorite, soft golden hour light (the kind that’s perfect for portraits). However, with black and white imagery, you’ll find that you have more freedom to experiment with direction of light and light intensity. With boudoir portraits, this can leave room for stunning end results lit with various amounts of contrast and softness.
Black and white, in fact, can prove to be more flattering than its saturated and vibrant color counterpart. Normal imperfections tend to be more noticeable in color photos than in black and white — meaning that a black and white boudoir photoshoot will provide opportunities for a flawless complexion.
- The Composition
In black and white photographs, your composition is amplified. Your negative space, for example, the parts of your image where it seems as nothing is going on — is highlighted and easier to showcase in black and white photos. This creates a direct relationship between your subject and the space (rather than creating the feeling that the subject is isolated or on its own). In boudoir photographs, this can be crucial, as it creates a point of connection, emotion, and intimacy between the viewer and the subject. It gives the feeling of romance, intrigue and passion.
In addition, other compositional aspects of the photo, like patterns and shapes, are also brought into focus. Maybe there’s a patterned wall behind your subject or the shapes and curves of furniture behind them. In color photos, this may seem distracting — in black and white images, it becomes playful and interesting.
Think carefully about the pose of your model, especially if your has no previous experience of this kind of photo shoot – she might feel shy and out of place. Try different poses to find out which one your subject is most comfortable with. Also, pay particular attention to the hand poses – the way your model holds her hands influences the mood and overall message of your photo significantly.
- The Shooting and Editing
If you want to try shooting black and white straight with your camera, there are certain camera settings you’ll have to adjust for the best results – look for some tutorials here or here. Or, you can shoot the image as you otherwise would, and turn it into a black and white beauty by way of editing. Today, there is a lot of modern software created specifically to enhance monochrome photos and give you professional looking results – check out a whole list of them. But if you just experimenting, you can also opt for a free software online like Lunapic which doesn’t offer as many controls, but still gives you a nice black and white end result.
Above all, black and white photography offers timeless images and a style that will forever be appreciated. Shooting in black and white (or converting to black and white in your post-processing phrase) is a creative choice that must be made by you and you alone –– with perhaps, some input from your subject.
If you’re feeling uncertain, experiment and be your own judge. After all, you (as the artist and photographer) know what type of style and feeling you want to convey.
For boudoir photoshoots, black and white is truly an incredible option. Between the lighting opportunities, the enhanced creative compositions, the mood and so much more — shooting your images in black and white is sure to produce amazing and lasting images, the kind that make both your subject and yourself feel confident and excited.
However you decide to shoot, we wish you the best of luck and creativity on your photography journey ahead!