For photographers, creativity is the difference between a nice photo and a NICE photo. But what happens if you’re not feeling very creative? That’s when I like to dive into what I call my “photographer’s creative kit,” a bunch of different things to try.
This might mean using accessories, taking advantage of my camera’s unique menu options, trying different exposure techniques (like shallow depth of field), or simply something I remember another photographer doing well.
If you’re like me, you love a great black and white image. See, when you remove the color from a photo, magic can happen. A person’s expression is suddenly imbued with more meaning. A cool composition becomes more bold, more dramatic. And our images gain a timelessness that allows our viewers to focus on messages that transcend the here and now.
But how do you determine which photos you should convert to black and white? Gut feeling? Scientific testing? Some secret list of requirements that are revealed only after reaching the 10th level of Photography Mastery?
When we first got started with photography we used a very professional, exceptionally rigorous system of… guess-and-check. Yeah, we’d basically try almost any shot in black and white, just to see if it would work. It got the job done, but it sure wasn’t efficient!
But now, years into our careers as photographers, having edited what must be hundreds of thousands of photos (or at least it feels that way!) we’ve discovered that some photos lend themselves to black and white better than others.
So what do those shots have in common? What qualities make a photo a great contender for Black and White of the Year? Let’s take a look!
This is often the first thing that will trigger a black and white moment for us. If we come across an image with particularly strong compositional elements, like shapes, lines or symmetry, we try it out in black and white. The reason these make for such good black and whites is that removing colour helps to simplify the frame. With the colour gone, more attention can be given to those nifty shapes.
When it comes to images of people, a strong black and white can be incredible. And for us, when there’s a great expression on the subject’s face, be it wonder, happiness, or sadness, we try out a black and white conversion. Removing color brings the focus to the subject and their emotion. There’s just something about the simplicity of black and white that heightens the connection.
Now, we’ve already mentioned that black and white can help to simplify your photo, which means that you can also use it to help minimize distractions. If there’s an object in your frame that pulls attention away from your subject due to it’s bright colour, converting to black and white can help to bring the focus back where you want it.
Check out the example below. When the image is in color, there’s a mega-distraction in the background. That person wearing red – they totally draw your eye away from our super-cute subject!
Check out the example below. When the image is in color, there’s a mega-distraction in the background. That
Convert it to black and white and…ta-da! That distraction is minimized, and our attention can more easily find its way to our ballerina.
Textures really stand out in black and white, particularly when they create a lot of contrast. So give shots with a lot of texture a try, and don’t be afraid to experiment with high contrast in your editing. The results can be pretty awesome!
Images with prominent shadows are a lot of fun in black and white. In color, the subject usually has more visual weight than the shadow. But in black and white, the visual weight becomes more evenly distributed between the two. This can lend more drama to the shot, and more symmetry too! Take a spin through your photo library and see if you have any shadow shots that you could try out in black and white!
While black and whites are a lot of fun, they can also create some problems. See, differences in color often help your subject to stand out from the background. When you take color out of the equation, it can become harder to get your subject to pop.
Here’s what to do: When you consider an image’s black and white potential, check to see whether there’s a good amount of contrast between the subject and background. If one is bright and the other is dark, chances are you have the makings of a great black and white on your hands.
Silhouette shots, like the one below, offer a ton of contrast between your subject and the background – they often look really dramatic in black and white!
We’ve talked a lot about contrast so far, and for good reason – black and white processing thrives on contrast! And that means that lighting conditions that create high contrast can make for super-interesting black and whites. Even harsh midday sun – a lighting condition we often try to avoid when we shoot in color – can produce amazing black and whites. That magical light you get at golden hour works great for black and white processing too, so give it a try!
And there you have it, a quick look at some of the qualities that make for great black and white conversions.
Take a look through your photo library for some shots to convert, or grab your camera. Better yet, practice shooting with black and whites in mind – being able to spot a scene with great black and white potential is a serious skill!
Now, the next step to creating incredible black and white images is to process them effectively. Your standard editing techniques are just not going to cut it when you take all of the color out of your shot. When your subject is the same shade of grey as much of the scene, you need to find other ways to make them stand out!
Capturing my friend Chelsea on her healing journey reminds me of the power that images can carry. The Excerpt below is from one of Chelsea's recent social media posts.
Blessed to me a small moment in time of her healing journey with image.
Spent the last two therapy sessions freely, calmly and openly communicating about my family.
Two years ago I couldn’t talk about my family for more than a few seconds, wringing my hands and avoiding eye contact.
There wasn’t a specific day that I remember and can pin point as the day I “fixed” my ability to do so.
There wasn’t anything broken about my inability to do it. I had walls up that at one point served a purpose, but now they’re unneeded.
Reprogramming takes time, patience, and the help of a licensed professional.
Nothing has to be “broken” or wrong for someone to benefit from therapy.
You can try and intellectualize about your history and what happened and what you’re struggling with now, but that will never be enough.
Trauma isn’t left brain stuff. In fact, studies show that it turns off your left side, and really lives and thrives in the right side.
So in lieu of seasonal depression szn approaching us- please just know that therapy has made me more powerful than I’ve ever been, more confident, more secure, more emotionally intelligent, has given me more clarity, more autonomy, and has brought me into this new way of being in the world that feels more “me” than I’ve ever felt.
Never be too stubborn, prideful, or afraid to reach out for help.
I support you ♥️
BY YOUPIC TEAM
As humans, we have a complex and contradictory relationship towards our bodies. Even though nudity might be considered our most fundamental state of being, there are still concerns around how the naked body can and should be portrayed, both in society in general and within different art forms such as photography. Nude photography is an interesting topic to analyse as there are many dimensions and layers to it. When discussing nude photography, we venture into topics such as power, ethics, reception and sensuality, just to name a few. In this piece, we will explore the world of nude photography from different perspectives and examine the artistic potentials of this vast, and somewhat controversial, art form.
Nude photography is an important part of the human expression, and it is a topic with many layers to it. An interesting aspect of the nude is not only the photos themselves but how they relate to and are perceived by the time and place they are presented in. The discussion about nude photography can take many different routes depending on the cultural and societal setting. While nudity could be argued to be the purest and most fundamental state of being, the controversy of nude photography is in regards to which values we are presented with when viewing the photo, and how these values coincide with or contradict our own. The ability to stir our set norms and compel us to rethink our initial judgements are one of the many things that make nude photography so fascinating.
The purpose of nude photography has changed over time, and the same goes for how it is portrayed. Nude photos have been helpful in many different fields from being references for artists and sculptors to being analysed within the medical field. The nude has also travelled through different forums, from avant-garde movements to glamour magazines. The changes in its usage and context have always advanced with the development of the surrounding world, especially when it comes to changes in social norms, media and technology.
Do you have an experience when it comes to nude photography that you would like to share with others? Perhaps you hold a view on nude photography that you think should be discussed within the photography community? We are always interested in reading stories and articles about photography and encourage you to share your thoughts with the YouPic community. There are many ways to express oneself, such as posting a photo with a detailed description, creating a post in the Home Feed or by writing a story. You can find and read some of the great texts that have been shared in the YouPic community on the page for Stories. We look forward to reading about your views and experiences of nude photography!
While the focus of the nude photo often is the subject and their form, the limits of what can surround and elevate it are almost nonexistent. By combining different genres, elements, techniques and location, one can create a complex and creative narrative. Nude photography does not only depict human bodies since it also has the possibility of portraying the lives of the subjects. Focusing on specific body parts, having the body be posed in a specific way and considering where the gaze of the subject is directed are all details that create an intricate story. This story takes us on a journey beyond the naked figure as we ask ourselves questions about humanity and what it means to exist in this world with the anatomy we are born, and eventually will die with.
Beauty and art have always been associated with one another where claims have been made which argue that the former should strive for the latter or even saying that for something to be considered art, it must be beautiful. Thoughts related to this, although not represented in their full right here, can be found in many philosophical works such as Kant’s third critique: Critique of Judgement. The topic of aesthetics and aesthetic judgements have gone through great changes since the Enlightenment, one of them being the modernist period when notions of beauty, the genius and art were questioned. This change, however, has not erased the concept of beauty, as it is still being analysed and discussed, both within aesthetics and on a societal level.
What we find beautiful changes, although some norms seem to be more unrelenting than others. What we deem to be attractive and ideal features of appearance for the human body follows closely to what is considered as high-status. Concepts such as health, money, power, opulence, virtue, are all things that affect our view of each other and seem to have something to do with beauty. Seeking the beautiful has always been one of the missions for nude photography, portraying bodies in ways within settings that exudes glamour, sophistication and sensuality. This is, however, not the whole story of what nude photography has to offer.
Another way in which nude photography relates to the concept of beauty is to portray its antithesis. Avant-garde movements have shown another way of representing human anatomy within nude photography, where different techniques are used to distort certain elements of the photo. By implementing features from surrealism, juxtaposition and distortions, we meet the nude in new and fascinating ways where we question what a body is and can be.
As we move further towards modern-day nude photography, we also see works where realism is prevalent. We are not only met with human anatomy in different settings, but we are also seeing the individual subject for who they are. By considering how bodies and actions interact with each other, we can see how different bodies appear, and how they create certain premises and limitations to how we live our lives. By portraying different bodies in nude photography, we can tell stories that are far more intimate and honest in reflecting the experience of being human. Bodies that are not necessarily considered beautiful nor glamourous are also documented to show that the features which are not considered to be high-status are made of the same flesh and blood as those we see in commercial nude photography.
Eroticism and nudity is a recurring theme in the documented history of human civilisations. From archaeological excavations and preservation, artefacts that display nudity and eroticism are still with us to this day. Examples of these artefacts being from Pompeii, the Khajuraho group of monuments and Moche ceramics, just to name a few. It is easy to view the world from a perspective of constant development, where we are moving away from restrictions towards a more liberated and sophisticated existence. When we think critically about this view, and turn our attention to other ways of life through history, we see that it is not necessarily true. When it comes to sensuality, sexuality and nudity, we see that those concepts have been incorporated into larger societies in many different ways and that the level of acceptance regarding such matters sways depending on which culture in time we analyse. With the invention of photography, however, we can follow these changes more closely and see how they derive from one another.
Sensuality is present within many different areas of photography and is not necessarily limited to nude art. What is particular to nude photography, however, is how eroticism and sexuality can be expressed on a more intimate level than other genres. The absence of clothing is not merely about the removal of materials, it is also a disengagement with certain ideals and norms. When it comes to sensuality within nude photography, we are invited to immerse ourselves into something more profound that connects us with all humans throughout history. We come close to something fundamental and objective about ourselves as a collective. With that said, we should also remember that nude photography has the potential of showing the opposite qualities of eroticism where perversion, vulgarity and carnal desires are the focus. Sensuality and eroticism can be beautiful in many ways, whilst also coming across as quite disturbing. What irrational forces are driving us forward in situations, and which we seem to have no say over? Why are we stimulated by seeing a subject in such a vulnerable state? Whichever aspect of sensuality one is interested in exploring, there are always new and interesting ways to investigate it within the genre of nude photography.
As with all other types of photography, nude photography has found its way to the internet and different online communities. What might be different for nude photography, however, is the difficulty to find a community where different kinds of nude photography are accepted. YouPic is a vast and loving photography community where photographers from all over the world share their work and interact with each other. One of the many things that we are truly proud of when it comes to our community is the diversity of what is being shared, which means that there are always new things to explore. This is also true when it comes to nude photography, where glamour, realism, surrealism and different bodies are all present. Do you have a special style of nude photography but have not found the right place to share your work? Then YouPic might be the perfect community for you! If you are not already a part of our loving community, then you can Join us, which one takes a few seconds. We are looking forward to seeing your work in our community.
...but your words are still echoing every time I listen to the silence” (d.j)
A feature from a lighting project at The Passion Project Denver
...but your words are still echoing every time I listen to the silence” (d.j)“When I shoot a photo I already know if the final image will be black and white or colour – it’s a matter of what expressive language you want for that project. Of course, some images are more suitable for black and white, especially high-contrasted images.” – Gian Marco Marano