Black and white Photography in Essex and Suffolk.

As an Essex family photographer, I love black and white photography. There’s no doubt that colour is wonderful and most of my family photo shoots this summer families have gone all out to have pops of colour against the blue summer skies which have been amazing. But there is something special about black and white photography. It’s more captivating and draws the viewers focus on the subject and emotion of the image. So when I returned home with a full SD card after a fabulous day at Frinton beach this summer, I was drawn to the emotion and depth I could create in a black and white photograph, producing some of my favourite images this summer. So grab a cuppa and read why I love black and white photography so much.

black and white photography

Working with summer skin tones.

As much as we’d all like to have beautifully tanned skin in the summer, the harsh reality is that we are all various shades of white, pink, red and brown in the summer. What does this do to a photograph? Well, as much as I love to capture the reality of family life, no one likes sun burnt skin in their pictures not to mention tan lines and the occasional red mosquito bite for good measure! What black and white photography allows is for this variation in skin tone and gives a wonderful consistency in skin tones as well as drawing out beautiful freckles and wonderful expressions. Emphasising lines and wrinkles can bring so much depth and emotion to an image, particularly for the older members of your family. The image below works much better in black and white. Why? The lines of the beach hut are emphasised, there is contrast, texture and various shades of black and white. Your eye is drawn to the boys and their expressions!

black and white photography




Shadows, Contrast, texture, movement and light.

Natural light can be wonderful to work with as a family photographer offering softness and subtlety or drama and contrast. During photo shoots around Essex and Suffolk I’m always looking for how I can work with natural light to bring emotion and a sense of personality to a photo. Black and white photography can emphasise this without the distraction of colour. A black and white family photograph will work with a wonderful palette through from black to white defining texture and pattern in a shot and a family photographer can draw on variations in the light such as flat light and harsh light to show creativity to an image. Here you can see the texture of the sand and the feathers with the shadows on the sand.

With movement you also get shadow which gives really great depth in black and white photography. So movement created by water can be captured much better in black and white giving a true sense of what is going on in the photograph even without seeing the full person.

Black and white photography is timeless.

There is no doubt that a black and white photograph doesn’t age at the rate of a colour photograph. If you are wanting a truly timeless family photograph then black and white can be a wonderful alternative to colour. Do all photographs work in black and white? The answer to this is no. This is when the skill of a family photographer is seen. With skill and experience I know what will work and what won’t. What I’m looking for is texture, contrast, shape and of course use of natural light.

black and white photography

Quite often if I’m happy with an image in colour but I know it’s missing that ‘something’ that I’m trying to capture, then I will work with it in black and white. This is when it gets exciting! Despite a lack of colour, the image can become strong, artistic and emotive. Creating new depths to the image and giving it a timelessness that would only be seen in black and white photography.

So why don’t I just work in black and white photography?

A good question! In Essex and Suffolk, I’m surrounded by beautiful countryside. The seasons and ever changing cloud patterns produces some colour that can take your breath away. Not only that, but a world without colour would be a very serious place and we all need a bit of colour in our lives to brighten up those dreary days. So instead of committing to either colour or black and white photography, when you’re working with your family photographer, it’s a good idea to chat about what impact you’d like your photos to have and let your photographer guide you as to what will work. Trust them, they’re the professional. Take a look at the image below. It works really well in both black and white AND colour. Both give a different feel. It’s just personal which one you prefer.

black and white photography

So some tips for black and white photography.

  • Look for texture, shape, contrast and the lines in the image.
  • Use the light to your advantage. Whether its harsh, flat or diffuse. All can work in black and white photography.
  • Draw on the emotion of the image you’re trying to achieve.
  • Don’t be put off by lots of colour! Different colours give a larger range of colour right through from black to white
  • Don’t bin an image because the colours don’t work. Try it as a black and white photograph first and see what happens. You may be amazed by how it comes to life and how it makes you feel.

So just to give you an idea of how black and white photography can give you that timeless, emotive family photograph that you’re looking for. Take a look at some of my favourites from my visit to Frinton beach!

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