I think anybody who has met me personally, or attended any of my talks on photography, will know that I have a huge passion for black and white photography. Especially black and white wedding photography.
Although black and white work is intrinsic in my own wedding photography (I’d say around 60-70% of my final output is black and white), there is, of course, a place for colour too.
When I think back to the kinds of photography I was attracted to too in my early years, and when I look at the majority of photo books I have on my bookshelf, black and white certainly seems to take a precedence.
As a wedding photographer it is my responsibility to ensure that the photographs I take, are where possible, well exposed, make use of the available light and have good compositional or story telling elements. Hopefully all of those in fact. Whether I’m shooting in black and white, or colour, those parameters don’t change.
However, when shooting for black and white, I most definitely look more towards the light and the story. The emotion and the passion within an image can be felt stronger by the viewer, in my opinion, in a black and white image.
My rule of thumb, when it comes to my images is that if the image is about colour, or colour is a core feature, then it should remain in colour.
If an image is about emotion, or human interaction, the I tend to look at it from a Black and White Wedding Photography point of view.
A [mostly] Black and White Wedding Photography Photofilm
By way of explanation, I’d love you to take a look at the following Wedding Photofilm.
You’ll see that this is part one of a two day Asian wedding. Asian weddings are always a riot of colour and colour should indeed be celebrated.
What I really wanted to portray when shooting this wedding though was the separation between the colour elements and the very emotional and evocative parts of the wedding.
Hopefully you will notice the ‘islands of colour’ too. Where colour is used in this photofilm, it is used in sections and with context. I’m not flitting between single black and white and colour images as I think that can be chaotic to the eye.
Press Play, turn the music up, and even go full screen if you wish.
The wedding above of Amy and Seva was such a beautiful event and I know the bride and groom loved the day.
I really wanted to bring out the best in the day and by shooting the very colourful elements in colour, and the more subdued emotional elements, in black and white I think the whole Photofilm does the day justice.
Above and beyond technically shooting the image, there are those three core elements of any good photograph that I’m always striving to include in each and every picture I take:
- The Moment
- The Light
- The Composition
As I mentioned, this wedding was a two day wedding and the second day was the Sikh element. The mostly brightly coloured clothes of the day before were replaced with calmer garments and there is a very distinct respect given to the Sikh wedding ceremony itself.
The wedding started at 6am and you will see from the next Photofilm that the solmenity of the ceremony was even more paramount.
It all changed in the afternoon (if you watch the whole Photofilm you’ll see what I mean). The Sikh day was less of a riot of colour and because of the very emotional elements of it, I have kept it all in black and white. Take a look, and I hope you enjoy it
Let’s talk a little more about Colour
As I mentioned above, there is a place for colour; of course there is. Most weddings have colour as a feature, whether its the flowers, the dress, the bridesmaid dress or the details on the cake.
It is unlikely that there will be no colour specific images at a wedding.
As the winter months pull in, often people select more subdued, winter-reflecting themes for the wedding and this often yields itself to less of the bright, colour images and more towards black and white naturally.
To explain further, I’ve selected an image below that whilst will look good as a black and white wedding photograph, it really demands to be in colour. The splash of the colour of the dress in contrast with the walls, the movement and the overall vibrancy of the image simply shout ‘colour’.
Drag the slider to see the difference
Do you agree? I think its clear that colour wins in this situation and I would shoot this wedding photograph with colour in mind.
Do you shoot in Colour Too?
This is one of the questions I get asked by prospective clients a lot when they have seen my Black and White Wedding Photography. The answer is, of course, yes. Whilst a great deal of my work is black and white, colour should be present in almost all wedding coverage.
This article is primarily concerned with black and white wedding photography, but check out my Documentary Wedding Photography page for more examples of colour work.
Some more Black and White Wedding Photography
At the end of the day, the images have to talk to you. For me, as a photographer, I want to see raw emotion in as many of my images as possible. And for you, the bride and groom, I want you guys to look back at your wedding photographs in twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years time and be reminded of genuine moments, genuine people and events that unfolded at your wedding.
Here are a selection of some of my favourite recent black and white wedding photographs. I hope you’ll agree that the monochrome finish works well for these particular images.
I hope you have enjoyed my insight into Black and White Wedding Photography
Don’t forget, there is a lot more photographs and wedding photofilms throughout my website. Colour as well as Black and White Wedding Photography.
Please feel free to explore. You might want to start with some of my recent blog posts