Portrait photography is majorly about capturing emotions and mood. One of the best ways to create evocative and dramatic images is to work in black and white. A lot of industry professionals like Bruce Weber Photographer prefer taking portrait photos in black and white. To capture an emotive quality in their images, one needs to focus on two factors, editing and lighting. Both of them are vital to creating powerful black and white portraits.
Natural light is ideal for shooting portraits, especially black and white ones. However, one must keep in mind that the direction and strength of the sun will have a huge impact on the ultimate image. Even though overcast days are good for achieving a balanced, soft light on the subject, it does not create much drama. Strong sunlight will be preferred for more dramatic high-contrast black and white portrait photos.
Shooting in harsh light allows photographers to capture the drama of shadow play on their subject. Shadows can be helpful in creating a sense of mystery, especially if the image is in black and white. They also provide a sharp contrast to play off the expression of the model. Another effective way of capturing natural light would be to shoot indoors and illuminate the subject with light coming from the window. Having the light offset by a dimly lit room can facilitate the creation of a distinctive cinematic feel in the photograph. One may even experiment with the position of the model and the angle of the light in order to create diverse lighting effects. For example, a photographer can have half the face of the model in shadow and half illuminated. They may choose to create a total silhouette as well. Capturing silhouettes is ideal for moody portrait photography, and helps the photographers to create striking compositions.
To craft a gorgeous black and white portrait, photographers must consider using their camera settings to preview how their shot shall look like a monochrome image. At times it can be a bit difficult to imagine the scene in front in black and white, so it is better to make use of the monochrome presets available in the DSLR or mirror-less cameras for a preview. If one is planning to shoot in RAW, it can be better to take most of the images in color, to have the flexibility of getting them converted into black and white during post-processing.
Bruce Weber Photographer has clicked a number of amazing black and white portraits over the years. Many of them can be found on his website. He also exhibits his work in prominent museums around the world. His most recent solo shows include “Far From Home” at Dallas Contemporary (2016), and “Detroit: Bruce Weber” at the Detroit Institute of Arts (2012). He has also published a number of books, monographs and exhibition catalogs that features his works.