Why Portraits in Black and White as opposed to color?
I have a soft spot for portraits in black and white. If I want to have full control of where my viewers eyes go in a photograph – black and white takes away the distraction of color. Black and white can can highlight only what you want the viewer to see through line, form, light and shadow. I don’t shoot with film anymore but I do miss the experience of creating imagery in a dark room. Seeing the image emerge in a tray of developer was nothing less than thrilling! Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to mimic a ‘film look’ by photographing the band Autolatry, a heavy metal band that I have known for a long time. They are relaunching themselves and needed some photos for their marketing. Actually, I must confess – the reason I know them is because 2 of them are my sons! They have had 2 tours of the USA and have made three records. If you like heavy music, check them out!
David and Matt are my sons, they have been playing music together since middle school. Dave plays lead guitar, writes the music and is their recording engineer and in general the visionary of the band. He lives and works in Tampa Florida as an engineer at Morris Sound , and Sean is the third member who plays bass and guitar, a really great guy from Rhode Island. We know their music quite intimately as they have played and practiced here for years! Now that they are out of the house we only hear them on their CD’s or when practicing here before their tours. Enough of me bragging about my kids…. this post is about portraits in black and white!
The Portraits in Black and White and how we did them.
The band was here last weekend and asked me to photograph them. I suggested portraits in black and white instead of color and they agreed to try it. Of course the camera can do either, but in my minds eye, my concept was in black and white. I was told that they did not want to see things clearly and well lit in these photos and did not want the usual kind of band pics – against the wall, sitting on stuff – you know what I mean. I think there is a trend back to LP recordings, film, retro stuff these days – so I was inspired to do something that actually looked more like the photography I grew up with on the older LP record covers. AND I had black and white “film grain” on my mind! Also the idea that ‘less is more’was something that inspired me. We decided that our funky, overly cluttered, dark and dirty garage would be the best place to create the photos. I think they thought I would include the junk that hadn’t made it to the dump yet, but I was more interested in the sliver of light from one single window. Here is what we created. I say “we” because I feel that photographing people is a joint venture… I have my own ideas and the other person or people have their own, too, and when it comes together the magic happens.
I made very little adjustments on these images. ISO of 2000 for a bit of grain, Nikon D700, 80-200 mm lens, a tripod and a sliver of light from a small window. No touch up except for stray hairs… and boy, Dave has tons of hair! I really love these images as their mom, too, because as younger boys, they would not take the time or have the patience to create portraits in black and white like these with me. Thanks, guys, it was really fun!
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