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Black & White Wedding Photography

Which is better? Colour Photography or Black and White?

I think this is a taste thing – but I really fall in the Black and White camp. If you’ve visited my homepage or seen my portfolio you’ve probably realised that this is the case already. I just have a strong love for black and white

Black and white is so many things. It’s elegant, classy, timeless, artistic, emotionive and it really emphasises what photography is all about – the painting with light.

Colour is removed and photography is bought back to its core art form. And everything else is in colour – everywhere – all day long.

I think it’s really nice to take an alternative path and if my photography lets your eyes rest on something different I’m so glad to provide that.

So I’m a strong fan of Black and White Wedding Photography – in fact, I have often wanted to just turn all my images Black and White and market myself as a Mono wedding photographer.

Do you really care? Do you like it?

Probably not – as digital cameras have got more vibrant and sharp and better at handling colour we’ve seen a trend towards more vibrant colourful images. I use Fuji Cameras, which arguably have the best colour science (I think with the new Fuji XT5 there’s no argument on that anymore) – but I still have a preference for black and white.

UPDATE: I wrote the last bit in 2022/23 when everything had to be colourful and zappy. We’re now in 2024 and Black and White Photography has gone back to being classy AF again. (I’ll update in 2025/26 when it goes back out of style and everything in the world has finally reached peak Barbie)

Does the colour add anything? Is it a story that needs the colour to tell it, or is the story behind the image strengthened by removing the colour? Is the light particularly beautiful (in my images the answer is usually a firm yes, because I’m looking for good light ALL THE TIME)? Are there strong shapes and composition? Is there strong emotion (again, something I’m always looking for)?

All these things add to a strong Black and White. I do sometimes have to hold myself back from making more of them.

UPDATE: Last year Joel Meyerowitz released a fascinating book called ‘A Question of Color’ where he’s shot side by side in colour and B&W over the years – you can find it here

Indeed – why aren’t there? There’s obviously a reason a lot of the classics are in Black and White (and a lot make great use of the simplicity and drama that it brings) – but here are some modern Black and White Movies you should definitely check out that may change your mind. If you don’t fancy it, find the trailers and just watch them and see if you blow your mind (disclaimer: all of them blew my mind, which probably explains why it only works at a certain level nowadays).

1. Ida – The cinematography in this is so breathtaking that I can’t actually tell you what it’s about.

2. A girl walks home alone at night – Iranian Vampire film. Totally original and again, beautifully shot

3. Eraserhead and The Elephant Man – Because David Lynch and B&W go together like crackers and cheese.

4. The Lighthouse – I realise, you’ll love it, or hate it…. you probably won’t be indifferent. It’s a Robert Eggers film, and if you know the sort of film Robert Eggers makes, you’ll know what you’re getting.

5. Roma – It’s about a maid in the 70’s. It doesn’t sound much, but every frame is crammed with story and emotion and the Black and White cinematography is to die for.

Not to mention, I’m a 90’s kid and I was bought up on grainy B&W videos from the alt-rock generation.

No – in fact they’re a totally different way of working. When people ask me for everything in colour and B&W I always feel I give them a good colour set and a lackluster B&W set (just removing the colour)

That’s because I can push and pull and cheat with a Black and White image and it doesn’t look wierd and unnatural in the way a colour photograph will. It’s already an abstract, so it’s already unnatural. You can do more with that.

  • Trent Parke – Magnum. Trent blows my mind again and again, he’s sort of a street photographer if the streets were directed by David Lynch and constant surrealist performance art. Go have a look. I doubt you’ll be back here (goodbye!) He makes me want to spend £££ on photobooks (they are gorgeous, don’t get sucked in)
  • For my money, Richard Avedon is the best portrait photographer ever. His work is ballsy, he knows how to get reactions out of people and his work is more often than not B&W
  • Jeff Ascough – The grandaddy of wedding photojournalism, lives and breathes in B&W, probably due to his obsession with early street photography and Henri Cartier Bresson (let’s just drop him in here as 3.5, yes?)
  • Greg Williams, who gets hired for every Hollywood party, awards ceremony and James Bond movie… is shooting mainly Black and White (maybe one of the reasons for the resurgence in the style over the past few years.
  • Ansel Adams. Most famous photographer ever… need I say more?

Of course you can.

At the end of the day I can’t argue it. It’s something you feel and something you gravitate towards – or you don’t.

And there’s no right or wrong answer.

If you were here looking for a wedding photographer I doubt you’d be this far in without being drawn to Black and White (I did make a concious decision to kick off with a B&W image on every page in my last redesign) (Let’s see how well that comment dates.

Contact Me

Simon Dewey Photography
4 Embankment Close
Derby
DE22 4HF