Colour vs Black & White Photography: 4 Questions to ask Before Converting to Black & White

I have absolutely no preference between colour and black & white photography but tend to use colour more than black & white. However lately I have started to convert more of my photos to black & white. Why? Because it just felt right I suppose. I think that just like any other artistic process choosing to convert your photographs to black & white is ultimately a personal choice and there are no right or wrong answers.

Even though there is no magic formula to determine if a photo should be converted to black & white or left in colour there are a few questions I always ask myself before converting my photographs to black & white in order to help me decide.

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Colour Vs Black & White Photography: 4 Questions to Ask Before Converting to Black & White

 

1. Is the colour interesting and powerful?

I love colour and as I said above most of my photographs are in colour. I believe colour can be a great compositional tool however when there is too much of the same colour, the colour seems flat and it doesn’t grab my attention I would normally convert the photograph to black and white. When the colour is not a strong point in a photograph it can act as a distraction from what I’m trying to convey.

2. Are the light and shadows more interesting than the colour?

I often choose to convert my photos to black & white when I want to accentuate light and shadows. I find that backlit subjects and dramatic shadows are brought to one’s attention quickly in black & white images.

3. Are the textures in the photograph interesting?

Texture is quite a physical concept so we would often be able to describe it as how it feels rather than what it looks like. Textures in a photograph can be very powerful because they add visual interest another dimension to the photograph.

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4. What kind of mood do I want to portray?

“… emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Colour is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn’t necessarily reach the heart.” ― Kim Hunter

Sometimes I really want the focus of my photographs to be on the emotion of my subject rather than the colours on and/or around it. Black & white lends itself perfectly to this in my opinion because it removes the pre-set emotions associated with colours adding at the same time more contrast and drama to the photograph.

Removing color from a photograph helps the view to focus on the subject’s emotional state.

I find that photos with definite blacks and whites work better in black & white. I often find monochrome photos with lots of wishy washy grays quite boring.

I hope you found this post helpful and that you are able to use some of these tips to decide when to convert your photographs from colour to black & white. Do you have any other tips?

If you enjoyed reading this post why not take a look at 7 Non-Technical Ways to Improve your Photography now!

Love, P

Twin Mummy and Daddy
You Baby Me Mummy

 

Diary of an imperfect mum
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24 comments

  1. I really need to use black and white more than I do! I love how black and white can change a photo! Beautiful pics and a great post! #PointShoot

  2. I love how changing a photo to B&W it can completely change how a photo looks and how someone feels when they see it. I love the emotion that a B&W photo can bring. Some great advice and I love your B&W photos. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

  3. Photojournalists opt for black and white photography because it’s so dramatic and powerful. There’s a reason why they do it, focuses you mind more on the subject as opposed to the composition. Love your photos, so Striking! #SharingTheBlogLove #TheListLinky

  4. This is really interesting to me. I love colour in my photos and rarely experiment with black and white, but it was one of the editing tools that came up on a course I did last year, and there were definitely some instances where an average photo became something really special in black and white. I just don’t have the eye yet to work out which ones those are, but these tips have given me a better idea to experiment with. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  5. I love this post! My hubby and I often disagree about the use of B&W. He has a tendancy to favour them over colour, but I like to pick and choose depending on what the scene or moment tells me or what I want to portray. I love your views on texture – I don’t normally take photos of the everyday stuff like bubbles, but your shot above looks amazing! Thanks for making me want to experiment! #sharingthebloglove

  6. I found this really interesting. I LOVE black and white photos and have just changed my Instagram theme to black and white. I feel I take a black and white picture better than colour. I also think because they’re not as common, they stand out a bit more. Great post. Thank you. #sharingthebloglove

  7. Great questions to ask! I prefer colour photography but it is true that some pictures just look better black and white. I like these questions and I think they are really helpful. #thelist

  8. I purposely read this post because I really want to work on my photography this year (it’s an unofficial goal!). I always use colour photos because I like colour (I always wear bright colours and I try to take photos with striking colours too) but I would like to experiment and branch out a bit. I think you’ve got some great tips here and I’m going to try and start using them. #ABloggingGoodTime

  9. Some great ideas on b/w photos I love b/w photos some of favourites are in b/w fab post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  10. This is a great post, totally agree about texture and emotion. I think the right photo in black and white conveys a much stronger feeling, and often it becomes more timeless. I’ll definitely bear these tips in mind next time I’m thinking about converting, thank you! #TheListLinky

  11. Great article and beautiful photographs. I completely agree. I find many of my most thought provoking or intimate images are much stronger without the distraction of colour, but as you say, it needs to be the right image as colour can add real context to a story.

  12. Great article and beautiful photographs. I completely agree. I find many of my most thought provoking or intimate images are much stronger without the distraction of colour, but as you say, it needs to be the right image as colour can add real context to a story.

  13. I love this post! Your photos have inspired my to try B&W this year but I didn’t know where to start. This is a great post!! It makes so much sense x

  14. These are great tips. I had never thought of too much of one colour to be a reason to try it in black and white. Will bear these in mind when I’m editing!

  15. This is so helpful – thank you so much! I love black and white photos but I tend to do most in colour. I use black and white for more emotional posts though or when the colours aren’t overly exciting. I do mean to try more black and white photos, I’m going to have a play around this weekend with the camera and see if I can do a series of black and white shots. Thank you! #thatfridaylinky

  16. Well I’ve got a brand new project for you for the new year and that is a photography book for bloggers! Such a great post with great advice. And you’re so right about wishy washy black and white. The photo in black and white has to make a statement for sure x

  17. I just got your email to read this post and was about to whenI quickly clicked on #TheList an there you were! Great post, sometimes I struggle with the choice between Black and White and Colour. I love how you discussed the texture in the photograph! Hubby and I still take some film photos too in Black and White and the grain in them is beautiful. The old film has an authenticity I adore. Really fab post! I love your pics #TheList

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