Black & White

Many changes have taken place in photography since Charles Jones shot ‘Peas’ in 1900 and Edward Weston shot ‘Pepper’ in 1930 and yet there is still something beguiling about their images.

They offer a perspective on food photography that is slightly abstract, a little surreal, mysterious almost.

Francesca & Serena

Past Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Finalist black & white images have worked beautifully when shooting people, especially in a reportage/person in the kitchen aspect but we wondered, how else it could be used to change people's perceptions of food photography when shooting in mono?

So today we talk to Mark Bentley, Deputy Editor, Black+White Photography to see how our entrants can utilise the power of monochrome in their 2018 submissions.

Emma Boyns 2

Mark, welcome to the blog.

Why black & white photography? What makes it so special for you?

One of the privileges of working for Black+White Photography magazine is to see the high quality of modern work across genres ranging from portraits and documentary, to street photography, wildlife and landscape. And these pictures can be taken on anything from a DSLR to a smartphone, drone, film camera or pinhole camera.

What makes it special for me? Firstly, good black & white pictures have a beauty that can take your breath away. By stripping out the colour you become much more aware of shape, form, texture, light and the subtle gradations of tone. The very best black & white pictures also have a timeless quality, whereas colour work can quickly become dated.

For me, another key characteristic of black & white is its power in telling a story. Documentary and reportage work very well in monochrome and portraits become more resonant when the distraction of colour is removed.

Gabriela Vivacqua

How would you persuade a photographer passionate about shooting in colour to go mono?

Colour can be fantastic – and for food photography it’s often the right choice. Cooked food always looks more appetising in colour. However, when it comes to portraits of cooks and food producers, black & white can reveal character more deeply than colour. Documentary pictures of workers in the field or the kitchen have more drama in black & white.

And don’t forget the kitchen itself: a still life of vegetables, a collection of cooking utensils, a well-laid table can all look fabulous in black & white.

Olga Romanshchenko

What core differences are there between shooting in black & white versus colour? 

When colour is a distraction and hinders the story you want to tell, then try it in black & white. Also, when the weather is bad and the light is very soft, it can be worth shooting in monochrome.

How could photographers successfully shoot black & white if they're so used to shooting in colour?

If you have never shot black & white before, then a good trick is to half-close your eyes, so you become more aware of how the world looks without colour. Look around you and imagine the world without colour. Be aware of how light falls into the room. Learning to see in black & white becomes an attitude of mind. Gradually you will know which subjects will work better in colour, and which ones work better in black & white.

Most cameras have a black & white mode, but we advise people to shoot in Raw and convert to black & white in post-production.

Gabriela Vivacqua 2

With these skills at hand, what do you hope to see from our entrants submitting black & white images across all categories in 2018? What opportunities do you see?

Black & white can bring out the beauty of a subject, reveal character and tell a story. I would like to see pictures that reveal beauty where we hadn’t noticed it in colour, or tell us more about the wonderful world of food and how it is produced.

Hamish Scott Brown

We'd love to hear which of our past Finalist black & white images you have enjoyed most?

Emma BoynsThere’s some fantastic work here, but my favourite is Emma Boyns’s picture of the chef with his hands in flour (seen right). It’s an image that transports you straight into the noise, energy and creativity of the kitchen.

BW-Covers-2018Thank you Mark, so much to think about there. We look forward to seeing some really inspiring black & white entries for 2018!



Black+White Photography are offering 40% off 1 year subscription when you become a Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Member, head over and find out more here!

If you're feeling inspired to shoot in black & white for the 2018 photography competition head to our categories page and start thinking how you can embrace the power of mono to give a new perspective on food in photography.

Note:- All of the above images are 2017 Finalist images, to see the full gallery click here.



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