I believe that by converting an image to black and white one adds an extra element that is often lost with colour photography. With landscape photography, converting to black and white can add to the sense of scale and vastness of a scene. With documentary photography, converting to black and white can make the scene more powerful and alive. And with people photography, converting to black and white can add to and increase the captured emotion, whether that be happy or sad, lost or lonely. Photographer, Ted Grant's quote on black and white photography sums this up beautifully:
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
I rarely take a photograph thinking I will convert it into black and white, instead it happens later in the editing stage. The reason for converting to black and white normally depends on the light in which the photo was taken, but it can also be due to the atmosphere or mood of the image. Click through the slideshow below, descriptions of each shot can be found beneath:
1. For a brief moment the light under the pier in Santa Monica was amazing yet it didn't quite work in colour. Converting to black and white exaggerated the amazing light show and the addition of a photographer in the frame added to the image.
2. Taken through the window on a road trip through West Africa I captured this boy as we passed through the border between Mauritania and Mali. His eyes show a lot of emotion which the black and white conversion helps bring out.
3. Taken during the Day of the Dead Carnival in Mexico City. Here the black and white conversion adds to the atmosphere and spirit of the carnival.
4. This confrontation between a shop owner and the Police in Downtown Mexico City is brought to life by the black and whiteconversion. One can almost feel the tension.
5. I love how the black and white conversion to this rural scene captured in Cusco, Peru, gives the image a dated and atmospheric feel.
6. The genuine happiness and innocence of these children in Belen Market, Iquitos, Peru is magnified by the conversion into black and white. The beauty of the light on the water is also accentuated by this process.