3 Go-To Black-and-White Film Stocks for Street Photography
Challenging the commercial grain, Taylor Pendleton embarks on a year-long journey of shooting monochrome street photos for authenticity & timelessness.
Imagine a world without color — where shadows and light are the only tools at your disposal to convey the rawness of candid street life.
This is the world of black-and-white film stocks, where monochrome mastery can make your street photography sing with a timeless quality that color just can't match.
If you’re an avid follower of my Instagram or YouTube channel, you know that I’ve recently made the decision to shoot my personal work exclusively on black-and-white film for 12 months; to see the world in a new way and create a body of work that truly reflected my personal style. Daunting? Absolutely. But one that I approached with a mix of excitement and trepidation.
While black and white film stocks are a great choice for street photography, the nuances of the medium mean that it requires a deeper understanding of light, contrast, and shape. Especially on a sunny day, where the interplay of light and shadows creates more dramatic effects that enhance the emotional impact of the image. Without the distraction of color, monochrome stocks help bring out the raw and gritty reality of street life.
When shooting in black and white, the colors of the scene become a non-issue. Initially, it feels weird to let go of the comfort of color and shift my attention to these other aspects of the image. But as I've continued to shoot exclusively in black and white for five months of my year-long challenge, I've found a sense of liberation in the freedom of monochrome. It's given me the space to experiment with texture, contrast, and mood in a way that color photography simply can't match.
Below are the stocks I used and various sample images of each.
Shooting CineStill 800T | My Thoughts & First Impressions
A low-light powerhouse. CineStill delivers a tungsten-balanced color negative film emulating that classic motion-picture vibe. Here's my initial impressions.
1. Ilford HP5
Great dynamic range in varied lighting conditions
Wide exposure latitude
HP5 PLUS Black and White Negative 35mm Film (36 Exposures)
Looking to get a 35mm B&W film that will deliver outstanding sharpness, fine grain, under all lighting conditions? Feed your film camera Ilford HP5 PLUS 35mmBuy for $8.99
2. Streetpan 400
Low to medium contrast
Great dynamic range
Excellent penetration through haze, fog, etc.
Red light sensitive (optimum film for dawn, dusk, winter, low light, and low sun)
Japan Camera Hunter
StreetPan 400 Black and White Negative 35mm Film
Are you a dedicated B&W shooter? The fast StreetPan 400 is great for all conditions with fine grain and easy scannability thanks to its gelatin back coatingBuy for $10.99
3. CineStill XX
Variable speed (ISO 200-800)
Medium grain and contrast
BwXX - Black and White Negative 35mm Film
Are you a B&W shooter? CineStill BwXX is a variable speed, classic black & white film emulsion, with an EI of 250 under daylight and 200 under tungsten lightingBuy for $13.99
If you’re interested in following my year-long project of shooting only black-and-white film….be sure to check out my channel, Graincheck. I’ll be documenting the entire journey there!