Black and white imagery is many things. It is striking. It is emotive. And it can often tell the story of a moment perfectly, without words. Jacob from Jacob Gordon Photography loves creating black and white imagery, and here’s why…
The main reason I choose to edit an image in black and white is to simplify the frame to allow the viewer to focus on what’s interesting. This is usually a moment of strong emotion. Turning the image into black and white can help to eliminate distracting elements or highlights from the frame which detract our view from that emotion or moment. Distracting elements could be overly bright highlights (very common in Australia with our sunny summers), distracting colours in the background from buildings, cars, or from certain shapes or buildings.
Image 1 by Jacob Gordon Photography
Some of my favourite moments are the raw and unplanned moments of the wedding day. The congratulatory hugs that each parent gives their son or daughter following the ceremony are always a highlight of the day for me. It’s such a strong moment as each hug resembles a thank you from the bride and groom to their parents for the years of support and guidance they’ve given them. While the parents are embracing their son or daughter in a show of how proud they are to celebrate with them on this momentous occasion.
A black and white image can help to accentuate the texture of the clouds and shapes of trees, which can be especially beneficial for epic landscape images. Image 3 and 9 work particularly well in black and white. Both images were taken close to sunset. On these particular days, the sunset wasn’t overly interesting. This is the reason I chose to edit them in black and white. You can see the texture and drama created in the clouds really enhances the look and feel of the images.
Image 3 by Jacob Gordon Photography
Image 9 by Jacob Gordon Photography
Image 2 is one of my favourite images. It was taken at a traditional Chinese Tea ceremony which is typically held on the morning of the wedding. This is a very important aspect of many Asian weddings. This image was taken in a small room that wasn’t well lit so the image was quite flat. By turning the image into Black and White I was able to selectively increase and decrease the highlights and shadows to create contrast between the background and the hands and teacup.
Image 2 by Jacob Gordon Photography
Image 4 is purely about emotion. By eliminating all colours from the image, the viewer can focus on what’s most important. That is the moment of pure joy and happiness between the couple.
Image 4 by Jacob Gordon Photography
Generally, when viewing an image the first thing we see is the brightest part of the image. This can often be a distraction and detract from the moment. In image 8 I was able to selectively reduce the highlights from behind the groom to allow the groom to be the focus of the image. His reaction as he sees his bride walking down the aisle is one of the most important moments of the day. It’s always a moment of such happiness and emotion.
Image 8 by Jacob Gordon Photography
The portrait images 5, 6, and 7 were all turned to black and white because the background showed no colours which were interesting or added to the image. By selectively increasing the exposure on the couple we can create a more focused image with higher contrast. By also turning a small percentage of the couples’ images into black and white you create visual variety to their album as a whole.
Images 6 & 7 by Jacob Gordon Photography
The only downside of black and white images is that not all couples will like them. As a general rule of thumb, of the 600-800 images I deliver, about 15% of those will be in black and white. I will generally ask in the initial meeting with each couple how they feel about black and white photos so I’m able to gauge what percentage of the photos to edit in black and white.
As wedding photographers, our role is to provide clients with images that will stand the test of time. I believe that black and white images will always be timeless allowing us to look back on them in years to come with fond memories. In my opinion, the best images that work well in black and white are the bridal portraits, details of the dress, emotional moments of the day, and portraits of the couple in an epic landscape.
Image 5 by Jacob Gordon Photography
About Jacob Gordon: I am an award-winning photographer who has a love for storytelling. I’m based in Western Australia however I’m always open to document weddings throughout Australia and around the world. I place great importance on allowing each couple to simply enjoy their day. During your wedding day, I will be capturing those real moments and telling your story through photography.