Secrets from the Pros: Everything About B&W Photography

Black & White Photography pros like @talark @emencher @gumoad @sissa.d provide tips on shooting the best black and white photos.

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I’m sure you’ve heard people say before that B&W photography is easier. It’s one of the most common misconceptions. In reality, it is a completely different skillset. We all have halfway decent photo filters, but if you want your image to convey emotion and tell a story, this style requires you to learn how to see in black and white.

These mobile photographers all have the special eye for black and white photography, and they’re some of our favorites:

Talar Kalajian

The way Talar plays with light in her photography is awe-inspiring. We asked her why she chose to shoot in monochrome and she said, “I feel these neutral tones give a more profound essence to everyday street photography. The choice of black and white appears to me as more poetic, more story-like, more pertinent to my hopes to portray a fleeting moment that existed but no longer is.” Talar, who enjoys street photography, noted that it makes her “feel like a patient explorer in pursuit of lights and tales.”

The Personification of a Wall
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Apprehension & Suspicion
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Light Excursion
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Eric Mencher

“Once, after a fair number of tequilas, I pronounced to a table of very close friends that making a special picture could be defined as a photographic orgasm,” says documentary photographer Eric Mencher. “When on the street looking for pictures, I am in a different space, an altered state of being (and one that needn't be tequila induced). It's a thrill, but a thrill for a reason. I am hoping (and sometimes praying) that a unique situation will unfold in front of me.” Eric sold his cameras and doubled down on mobile photography, and when asked about this move, Mencher said, “It liberated me visually. It's taught me to be loose and not so rigid, to be free with subject matter and composition and light. (...) Black and white is not how most of us see. In combination with photography (which totally distorts/disrupts how and what we see), black and white seems surreal or unreal. So we're drawn to it or repulsed by it, but we know it's unique. We try to find meaning in it.”

The Citizen
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Happy July 4!
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Guillaume Adam

Guillaume Adam is a mobile street photographer who lives by a Henri Cartier-Bresson quote that goes, “If there is one point, it’s humanity, it’s life, the richness of life. The thing is simply to be sensitive.” When asked about his experience in taking photographs, Adam said, “I am mistaken; I am an amateur photographer who is mistaken, who likes to be mistaken. Spontaneously, without calculation or anticipation, without premeditation, the bodies that speak are offered without a second thought. Hence arises the gift.”

Melissa David

“I build my eye on the streets.” This is the statement of French photographer Melissa David. We can’t get that line out of our heads. “When you’re involved in photography, you see pictures everywhere. For me, it depends on the mood of the day. Sometimes, I think before I take the photo, but other times, it’s just emotions [at first]… and then I try to find an image. Just go with the emotions. It’s complicated, but it’s possible.” David’s strong images are way more than just contrast and exposure. It is beyond camera settings. When asked more about her images, David said, “I think it should be like venting. I think the most important [things] are the eye and the intention: ‘Why do you take [the] picture?’ The camera is not the most important. It’s the intention.” She started with her photography only three years ago, but has since gained over 30 thousand followers on Instagram, proof that her work is beyond captivating. And David’s advice to young photographers: “Be curious. Look what you’ve done earlier and you will discover what you are. You have to be able to see behind you, and take your time.”

Marina Sersale

Some photo subjects will stay the way they are for a long time, but, with others, you have just a split-second to capture them. This is probably why Marina is so good at makes those moments extra special. Her experience in creating fragrances and documentary filmmaking leaves no question about why she has such a distinct eye for detail. “I don’t know whether black and white makes photography more distinct or special. There are many incredibly talented photographers who produce absolutely beautiful colour photography. For me, black and white works better than colour simply because I see in black and white. I have no idea why. When I try to see in colour, I find there are too many colours and I get distracted.” Marina says about her monochromatic work, “It taught me that you don’t necessarily need a traditional DSLR or a Reflex to take a good picture.”

Untitled - Tbilisi #latergram
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Untitled - Tbilisi
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Daniel Delgado

Another favorite of ours, Daniel’s work blurs the lines between B&W portraiture, street photography, and urban architectural styles. He says, “From an early age, I was drawn to the streets. Coming from an upbringing away from a city, street life was new and exciting. My very first photography class in high school was b/w film, no digital. The teacher wanted us to know the traditional way of shooting before anything else.” And that probably explains why he’s such a natural at seeing in monochrome. Check out his Momentist article for tips on learning to see in black and white. Daniel’s ultimate goal is in seeing his “photography reach a wide audience. To inspire people, no matter how small the outreach. Photography can do so much in the world and I hope to be apart of that conversation one day.”

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Vassilis Mathioudakis

Vassilis is a freelance photographer in Greece whose images are simply captivating. You don’t have to be a photography-lover to love his work. Each image not only tells a story, but it gives you that hunger to know more about it. “I believe everything is matter of perspective and how you see things. The experience of the eye forms the frame. Black and white gives an atmosphere. (...) Photography is a way of life. It is not just a profession. You must give something of your soul.”

Playing with I phone round my neighborhood
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Hossein Almasi

Based in Qom, Iran, Hossein sure has a unique eye for capturing interesting images. His work, like the others’, tells a story, but more often than not, his photos seem to be wanting to tell more than what’s in the frame. “I try to capture my words by taking pictures, challenging my thinking and vision for the audience,” says Hossein about his work. He describes black and white as “more distinct from other styles of photography. Such kind of simplicity and aesthetic, it involves meaning and concept."

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hossein.almasi Jamkaran's story .3-4-5-6 بر اساس آن‌چه محدث نوری در جنه الماوی نقل کرده است، حسن بن مثله جمکرانی می‌گوید: «شب سه شنبه، ۱۷ ماه مبارک رمضان سال ۳۹۳ه‍.ق جماعتی از مردم به در خانه من آمده و مرا از خواب بیدار کردند و گفتند: امام زمان شما را به حضور طلبیده است. آنها مرا به محلی که اکنون مسجد جمکران است آوردند، امام(عج) مرا با نام خودم صدا زد و فرمود: برو به حسن مسلم که در این زمین کشاورزی می‌کند بگو: این زمین شریفی است و حق تعالی آن را از زمین‌های دیگر برگزیده است و دیگر نباید در آن کشاورزی کند. عرض کردم: مولای من لازم است دلیل و نشانه‌ای داشته باشم و گرنه مردم حرف مرا قبول نمی‌کنند، حضرت فرمود: تو برو و آن رسالت را انجام بده، ما نشانه‌هایی برای آن قرار می‌دهیم و همچنین به سید ابوالحسن (یکی از علمای قم) بگو در این زمین مسجدی بنا نماید. بزی هم در گله جعفر کاشانی است، آنرا خریداری کن و بدین مکان آور و آن را بکش و بین بیماران انقاق کن، هر بیمار و مریضی که از گوشت آن بخورد، حق تعالی او را شفا می‌دهد. امام دستور نماز خاصی را نیز به من دادند. صبح هنگام به همان مکان شب گذشته رفتم و در آنجا زنجیرهایی را دیدیم که طبق فرموده امام حدود بنای مسجد را نشان می‌داد، سپس به قم نزد سید ابوالحسن رفتم و چون به در خانه او رسیدم، خادم او گفت: آیا تو از جمکران هستی؟ به او گفتم: بلی! خادم گفت: سید از سحر در انتظار توست. سید مرا گرامی داشت و گفت:‌ ای حسن بن مثله من در خواب بودم که شخصی به من گفت: حسن بن مثله از جمکران نزد تو می‌آید، هر چه او گوید تصدیق کن و به قول او اعتماد نما. آنگاه من ماجرای شب گذشته را برای وی تعریف کردم. با هم به سمت جمکران حرکت کردیم، گله جعفر کاشانی را دیدیم، یک بز به طرف من دوید، جعفر سوگند یاد کرد که این بز در گله من نبوده و تاکنون آنرا ندیده است، به هر حال آن بز را به محل مسجد آورده و آن را ذبح کرده و هر بیماری که از گوشت آن تناول کرد شفا یافت. پس از این ماجرا سیدابوالحسن مسجدی با سقفی از چوب در آن مکان احداث کرد.مسجد_جمکران #tiny_collective #hikaricreative #roozdaily #everydayiran #akasimagazine #featureshoot #shootermag #outofthephone #friendsinperson #icp #lenspersia #persianlikes #1415mobilephotographers #1415iran #peoplecreatives #lensculture #5aqaks96 #streetphotography #everybodystreet #streetphotographers #bnw_demand #myspc #spi
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Valeria Cammareri

"I often shoot in the street, and most of my shots are candid, but I’m not interested in reproducing or showing reality as it happens, but rather how common situations in everyday life can be perceived as ambiguous and mysterious parts of our own inner world.", says Italian street photographer Valeria who's photos evoke mystery and tell a story within each composition. Valeria has the ability to capture an image that teleports you but also makes you feel a sense of nostalgia. Each photograph makes you reminisce on a memory as if it was truly yours. "The choice of black and white adds mood and intensity to the images. I’m a vintage soul. I like the extreme elegance of black and white photography and the feel of old style that it conveys."

Tammy Danan

Part-poet, part-writer, and full-blooded human megaphone of the oppressed, Tammy is a freelance writer. She is an introverted queer who gets by with unhealthy amounts of coffee, the sound of tattoo machines and the smell of a newly cleaned typewriter. And oh, she’s curious as hell about a lot of things.

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