He explains the reasons for this choice.
‘It is fair to say that certain subjects, the beauty of followers for example, needs colour. That considered the same flowers photographed in black and white would convey a different message entirely and the experience for the viewer would also be different. Black and white is the true foundation of photography as all you are dealing with is light and nothing else. If you have not already tried to make images in black and white then it is worth the effort as the results can often be outstanding.’
Paul continues, ‘I think it is good for all photographers to try to ‘see’ things in tones of grey. The act of ‘seeing’ is not as simple as it sounds. It is hard work at first but the rewards can be huge. Black and white is different from colour because you are forced to look for rhythms, patterns and shapes. Also, shadows become more important as they add to the overall balance and tones in a photograph. Black and white photographs often add drama, but black and white photographs that display a simple ‘high-key’ tonality can also capture the eye. I often say to students and clients, ‘Go out and play with the light’. The reason for this is that light is the only thing you need to look for and, without colour, it is something that is both challenging and fascinating to do.’
To demonstrate the power and drama of black and white photography here is a sample from Paul’s portfolio taken from his book Exploring Black & White Photography: A Masterclass. Entitled ‘Low Sun, Glen Coe‘ it demonstrates how black and white photography is astonishingly effective at portraying drama.
Paul explains, ‘I was standing at the edge of Loch Achtriochan with a storm approaching from the upper part of Glen Coe and Rannoch Mor. As the building cloud modulated the light it sent shadows down the flanks of the mountains and lit the reeds at my feet. The play of light represented in a series of dark shadows and glistening light grey give the composition depth, and the structure of the clouds convey exactly what it was like when I was stood there with my camera. For me, it is a classic black and white situation to be in and conveys far more of the mood of the moment than a colour representation. Simplicity is also a powerful tool for black and white photographers to use at will.
‘What you can see from these images is that the variation of light and conditions can all be considered as contributing factors to making strong black and white photographs. You have seen mist, hazy sunlight and storms. With all of these conditions considered, you can venture out and embrace what the elements of nature are presenting to you, and the resulting photographs can convey these elements beautifully, without a single colour present.’
If this inspires you to venture forth and explore the art of black and white photography please share your images. We would love to post the best on our site!